KidZui, today’s Deal Radar company, was founded by Cliff Boro, Vidar Vignisson, and Tom Broadhead with the aim of keeping kids safe on the Internet, empowering them to benefit from the best aspects of the Internet, and allowing parents to use KidZui as a means of engaging with their kids and their interests.
Vidar Vignisson, father of three boys under 12, realized that he and his wife only allowed their kids to visit three to five websites that they knew about. He felt that kids should be able to safely and independently explore the Internet like adults. The three founders of KidZui joined forces as an executive team in 2001 when Infogate — which was founded by Cliff Boro — purchased Entrypoint/Pointcast. When they sold Infogate to AOL Time Warner in 2003, they formed CVT Ventures with a strong desire to preserve the team. Before conceiving their own project, KidZui, they helped start a number of software companies as the principals behind CVT Ventures.
Instead of building a better filter to keep out bad content, the company focused on building a platform that allowed kids to discover and enjoy kid-appropriate content on the Internet. Designed for kids between the ages of 3-12, the San Diego-based company began offering children access to parent- and teacher-approved content from March 19, 2008. The company’s user base, since its launch, has grown over 20% on average month over month. Further, the company claims to have doubled its audience in the first four months of 2009, with virtually zero marketing expenditure. The company says that on average, each KidZui kid uses the service for 3.8 weekly sessions, with an average duration of 37 minutes per session.
KidZui claims that its user interface has been designed after testing with 8,000 families to allow kids, even those who are non-readers, to search, browse, and share content. Its content library is reviewed and age-categorized by over 200 paid parent/teacher reviewers, under the direction of Deanne Kells, the former Editor in Chief at Leapfrog. The company sends detailed weekly email reports to the parents and gives them secure access to an online parental website that details their children’s activities on KidZui. The company claims that not only do the weekly reports keep parents informed about what their children do online, but also serve as a gateway to their children’s new interests and passions. Further, the company allows parents to customize the content and features through the KidZui parent website. Parents, through their accounts, can change the channels of content available, add and take out specific Web sites, see what their children are viewing online and approve all friend requests.
KidZui was initially released as a paid subscription model, which was met with criticism. The company launched a free model and today works on a “freemium” business model. Though the safety and discovery is free, Kidzui has an optional membership at $7.95 per month, or $39.95 annually, which provides children and parents with additional features and value. ‘Member’ kids enjoy access to virtual goods, and additional ways to express and personalize KidZui while ‘member’ parents receive upgraded parental emails and controls. Further, the membership includes a ‘Homework Helper service which maps out the most commonly taught subjects from pre-school through eighth grade, with the best websites, videos and pictures as learning boosters.
Though KidZui does not include banner advertising, it recently partnered with Dreamworks to help promote the release of ‘Monsters v. Aliens’. Under this partnership, the kids had access to over 18 exclusive clips from the movie before its release, and KidZui had incorporated the characters from the movie to its social network. The company is open to working with additional sponsors to assist in movie launches and other brand-appropriate new product launches. The company also mentioned that they will be launching a major partnership with a well-known broadband provider this summer. They did not provide details of the partnership.
The company has raised $10 million so far: $500,000 in seed funding from CVT; a $3 million Series A from Emergence Capital and First Round Capital in September 2006; and a $6.5 million Series B from Emergence Capital and First Round Capital and Maveron and Scholastic Corporation in July 2007.
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009