Last year, we had the pleasure of meeting Zak Ringelstein and the Zigazoo team, and I’m proud to say that we closed our seed investment in the company earlier this year. We participated in the round alongside a fantastic line-up of investors, including MaC Venture Partners; Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures; Wheelhouse Entertainment, as well as angels such as Jimmy Kimmel and Pocket.Watch founder Chris Williams.
Zigazoo – described by TechCrunch as the ‘TikTok for kids’ – has created the first social streaming platform for kids, where social entertainment is also a learning experience that kids enjoy – and crucially, that parents trust. Launched in 2020, Zigazoo allows kids to make creative video responses to challenges made by some of the world’s biggest brands, artists, celebrities and children’s’ idols and share them with friends. Despite only having launched recently, Zigazoo has gained significant traction already with over 100,000 subscribers and 20m video views.
Zigazoo plays in the edutainment space: an area that we’ve spent a fair bit of time researching (you can read our research on the broader edtech space here!). Edutainment, as the name suggests, combines the entertainment of gaming and video with educational content. These days, kids are consuming more video content than ever, but parents aren’t necessarily happy about this: while children aged 4 to 15 are now spending an average of 80 minutes a day on TikTok, 84% of parents are concerned about their children’s use of the app. Zigazoo has bridged this misalignment of interest by building a platform for kids that mimics social media in a safe way, and provides engaging, educational content that is parent and teacher approved (the platform has also gained stellar reviews from child safety groups like Common Sense Media, Protect Young Eyes, and is a member of the kidSAFE Seal Program). The opportunity for companies in the edutainment space is massive: there’s 41m households with children aged 3-7 in the US alone, making up a $35bn total addressable market.
As a16z stated, the best version of every consumer product is the one that’s intrinsically social. By building an integrated social experience for kids, Zigazoo not only drives better engagement – because ultimately, kids want to use it to play and chat with their friends – but also drives better growth loops, better retention and better defensibility. Alternative social platforms like Zigazoo are among a new generation of companies leading the rebirth of the consumer social ecosystem (you can read my colleague Cecilia’s take on the rise of virtual communities here). The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge driver in the rise of these platforms, which don’t only help to meet people’s social needs but actually form a critical component of our social lives where people can be their most genuine selves. Kids today are the first digitally-native generation, coming to use social media much earlier and therefore blurring the lines between their online and offline lives at a much younger age. It only makes sense, then, that there’s a platform which meets the social demand of kids and the safety approval of parents, while also being an educational experience where kids can find new interests.
The appeal of Zigazoo isn’t limited to parents and kids: Zigazoo offers next-level engagement for its brand partners. Traditionally, kids interact with brands and characters in a uni-directional way through Netflix or YouTube, but using Zigazoo, they interact with characters for the first time in a bi-directional way, strengthening the rapport between kids and parents, and brands. Zigazoo has already accrued an impressive roster of content from the likes of Peanuts, Netflix, Apple TV+, Nickelodeon’s Canticos, the Philadelphia Zoo and music icon Laurie Berkner.
Zak and Leah Ringelstein, the company’s founders, have a fantastic track record in this space. Previously both teachers – and having sold their previous edtech company Uclass to Renaissance Learning – their experience and deep understanding of the space from both a consumer and business perspective is second to none. Zak and Leah have built an incredible team of operators and advisors around them to execute on Zigazoo’s mission who previously worked for the likes of Nickelodeon, ComCast, Masterclass, Warner Bros and Facebook.
We’re seeing the emergence of a new generation of alternative social platforms which are interactive, engaging, social and educational, and Zigazoo has all the ingredients to be the winner in this space for kids. With prior experience as teachers and founders, Zak, Leah and their team are the epitome of founder-market fit, validated by the significant traction they’ve already achieved from a partner and subscriber perspective. We’re really looking forward to supporting Zigazoo as they continue to scale.