Kiddy tech garners dollars at 500 Startups Demo Day

Krystal Peak · July 19, 2012 · Short URL:

500 Startups introduced several tech companies bringing more education tools to kids

Since many parents learn how to use their iPads and mobile apps from their kids, it is only fitting that some of these parents create some great apps and platforms to bettwe teacha and engage their kids and it looks like several new companies from the latest 500 Startups Demo Day fleet are doing just that. 

The latest graduating class of tech companies fresh from the 500 Startups accelerator program delivered their pitches to a room full of angel investors looking for the next Instagram, OMGPop or Yammer on Wednesday night, and kiddy tech was a popular segment to cater to.

For our most dedicated readers out there, you may be familiar with my co-worker Faith Merino's Resetting Education series where she has been diving deep into the growing market of edtech by looking at trends and promising startups. It looks like my buddy Faith will be busy with these new additions to her list.

Founder of 500 StartupsDave McClure introduced dozens of companies to various venture capitalists in the Bay Area and it was quite a diverse group. 

500 Startups is an early-stage seed fund and incubator program founded in 2010, which seeds between $25,000 and $250,000 introduced the crowd to companies founded not just from the Bay Area, but also from Japan, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Australia, and Slovinia.

Since its inception, 500 Startups has invested in more than 250 startups, connected companies with more than 170 mentors and done three different plane tours, taking entrepreneurs all around the globe to learn about business markets worldwide.

Here is a look at 5 education-focused companies from 500 Startups:

Activity Hero

To help kids become more well-rounded parents in the US spend nearly $30 billion a year on after-school activities.

But, the process of finding and getting signed up for these activities can be time consuming and frustrating.  Parents have to scour the Web to find them, read reviews, ask friends, call for more details, sign up and then arrange with other parents for scheduling and carpooling. It is very fragmented.

Activity Hero is a tool and social platform that puts everything in one place and make it easy to share details and events with other parents.

Activity Hero aggregates activity vendors, reviews, and social sharing functions so that your kids can have all their buddies join them.

The service is paid by a fee from summer camps and vendors that want to be listed on the site and streamline the sign-up process.

Just this summer, Activity Hero generated $1.4 million for summer listings and sign-ups.

Currently this company is looking to raise $500,000 and $100,000 is already committed.



There are a lot of great learning apps out there that just haven’t gained traction just yet. Parents, school systems and teachers are lost in the wild west of education technology, without a map to guide them to the perfect tools to teach children. Chalkable aims to curate those diamonds in the rough and make it easier for schools to fold them into their lesson plans.

Up to this point, schools have had to work within the invoice system and apps work on the credit card transactions. Chalkable is creating arrangements with schools to charge $10 per student (which has a built-in $5 app store budget embedding in it) so that all of the apps, platforms and analytics  to fit into their invoicing process.

This platform will also include a 30% rev-share for partnering apps that have been struggling to gain traction in the school system.

So far, Chalkable has run pilot programs in three school and will launch in 50 schools this coming fall.

Chalkable is raising $1.1 million and 30% is already committed.

Timbuktu Labs

This Italian-based startup brings activities, stories and trivia to the iPad so that parents are never at a loss for things to do with their kids.

Tibuktu works with publishers and artists to bring in new, rich content from interactive stories to crafting ideas and games that everyone can play together on their mobile device.

This app also has a gamification element where parents and kids are awarded badges for completing new tasks and completing groups of stories.   

The app is free but you pay for additional premium content.

The young company has already won the best design award in Launch Education & Kids and has attracted 60,000 downloads. Last month Timbuktu  saw an 82% increase in users with 80% return rate and the average user comes back to the app more than three times per week.

This company is planning to raise $1 million and already closed $515,000 in commitments. 


When children are already spending more than two hours a day playing games on various devices, parents are clamoring for more educationally-focused games that their kids would love.

Yogome has built an app and mobile learning world where kids pick an avatar (here it is called a Yogotar) and have missions to complete while learning about recycling or math or other skills. The games are all focused on children being the heroes that are empowered to save the day.

The founders of Yogome spent a lot of time working with educators, parents and children to learn about what games worked best and what type of analytics the adults would like to see about their child’s game play habits and what they have become proficient in.

Yogome is in the process of raising $500K and 20% of that goal is already committed.

Story Panda

There is a generation of kids that aren’t going to be passive consumers of content, but instead a creators and editors of content. For these content creators, StoryPanda has built an iPad app that lets them take recognizable stories and characters from books and change the dialogue, characters and background to build their own stories.

This new iPad publishing platform allows children to work with adults to change an entire immersive and interactive tale as well as share it with friends and family with a simple click.

Of the current users of this app, 83% of kids created stories their own stories using well-known characters, 61% have become monthly active users, and most use the app twice a day.

Because of the endless possibilities when working with established publishers,  StoryPanda wants to expand this service to include adaptable games and television.

Currently, StoryPanda is raising $1 million and has already closed $300,000.

(Another popular segment of tech companies was also fashion-centric apps and services. Feel free to check them out here.)

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs


Faith Merino

Joined Vator on


Dave McClure

Joined Vator on