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Member Spotlight: Zoobean Launches Personal Recommendation and Digital Guide Service

This week, 1776 member Zoobean is launching a new subscription option that will exclusively offer web-based, personalized recommendations and reading guides. This marks another milestone for a company whose founders originally just wanted to provide their son with a curriculum that fit him socially and educationally.

Zoobean is a website dedicated to building children’s literacy by curating books and apps. The organizational structure is uncommon not only because it is an edtech startup, but also primarily because of who manages the business. Jordan Lloyd Bookey and Felix Brandon Lloyd are not only the founders of Zoobean; they are also married to each other with two children. Bookey, who nows serves as Zoobean’s “chief mom” after leaving her role as head of K-12 education for Google, and Lloyd, Zoobean CEO and a former D.C. teacher of the year, are dedicated to helping parents through Zoobean’s new web-based offering.

The pair met in 2001 while teaching at a school in southeast D.C., but the idea for Zoobean was directly influenced by their son, Cassius.

“He’s biracial, and we were also looking for a book to get him into a frame of mind for becoming a big brother, because we had a daughter on the way,” Lloyd recalls. “We were doing online search as well as looking in bookstores trying to find a book that was right for our son. We looked for a book featuring a biracial character that was appropriate for his age level, his beginning set of skills when it came to his reading. We found it very difficult.”

Given the plethora of products available online and in physical bookstores, the couple couldn’t filter through all the clutter to find the perfect book for Cassius. Only after receiving a more appropriate book from a family friend did they realize they could develop a service for other parents looking for that same type of experience.

Google does a good job of distilling a lot of information, but there is still this great need “to find things that are specifically useful, relevant and educational for your own child,” Bookey said.

After making several pivots, Zoobean hired a team of 12 curators and launched to offer a personalized subscription service. They’ve made it quite simple especially for the non-tech savvy parents: Users go on to the site, enter their child’s age, interests and reading level, and Zoobean will personalize a subscription while adding weekly book and app recommendations, detailed reading guides and app companions.

“With the web-based subscription we will provide you with an excellent recommendation that’s personalized for your child, but also provide you, the parent, with a digital reading guide,” says Lloyd.

In recent years, box services have proliferated. Yet, these services generally have limited customization—and prices can exceed $15 per month. With its new web-based offering starting at $2.99 per month, Zoobean is moving outside of the box.

Parents can now act in a more cost-effective manner with the launch of digital service. Instead of subscribing to books they can now have the option to go to the local library or bookstore to find the recommended material. Zoobean will continue to do home delivery service, but with the addition of a digital reading guide and personalized apps it allows the customer to  have a choice in making the best decision cost-wise for the family.

Focusing on digital offerings allows Zoobean more flexibility in terms of logistics, managing risk as well as adding depth to a more personal service for users. Going beyond a subscription box service to a more personalized experience, Zoobean makes life easier for families to enjoy a clearly defined course of learning.

To read the full press release on Zoobean’s new digital service, click here.