Launched in 2009, Speakaboos is an ed-tech startup that brings children’s stories to life with educational activities, games, and worksheets. The subscription-based service was first introduced on the web and just recently arrived on iPad. Soon, it will be available on Android as well.
With Speakaboos, parents pay $5 per month or $45 per year to access a catalog of books, which currently includes 150 choices from both independent authors and well-known publishers like Dr. Seuss, The Jim Henson Company, Penguin, Pearson, Charlesbridge, and more. One to two books are added to the catalog per week. Speakaboos, which TechCrunch described as “something of a Netflix for children’s e-books,” licenses content from publishers then turns them into interactive storybooks that feature celebrity performances, illustrations, and original music.
Speakaboos aims to teach reading skills, creativity, and life lessons in a fun and safe environment. The company hopes to attract parents who are looking for a more affordable alternative to interactive books that are sold as standalone apps. So far, Speakaboos has sold or pre-sold more than 10,000 subscriptions. Children who use the service complete an average of 40 books per month, finishing over 85 percent of opened books. Three-quarters of parents and schools continue their subscriptions after 12 months.
“The tremendous comprehension-based alignment between written word, spoken word, images, and animation, and the fact that every single interaction you see with Speakaboos stories has some type of plot-driven, comprehension-driven purpose,” says Speakaboos publisher Neal Shenoy. “That’s why we’re seeing great engagement numbers and great comprehension numbers.”
Speakaboos recently raised $6.2 million in seed and Series A funding from Media, Kyowon Group, Advancit Capital, Rick Segal, and Gerald Hughes. The service has been named a “Great Website” by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association; graded A+ by Education World, an online community for educators; and received a “KidZui Approved” badge from KidZui, an Internet browser for children.