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Speakaboos: TOC Startup Showcase Finalist

Keeping kids engaged and learning anytime, anywhere

We’re giving our readers a chance to get to know our TOC Startup Showcase Finalists a little bit better before the big showdown in NYC. We’re featuring the startups with a personality profile here on our website.

Our next profile is from Noelle Millholt and Neal Shenoy of Speakaboos.

I’m really good at …

Speakaboos Noelle MillholtKeeping kids engaged and learning anytime and anywhere.

Speakaboos is a multi-platform subscription service that offers educational, entertaining interactive picture books to children six and below. Speakaboos inspires a love of reading in young children through one of the largest catalogs of interactive children’s picture books produced in partnership with publishers such as Henson, Penguin, Abrams and Charlesbridge. Speakaboos is in public beta and our content is enjoyed by over 1MM consumers each month across computers, tablets and mobile devices in homes, schools and libraries globally.

What is the first thing that people notice about you?

My entourage.Speakaboos Neal Shenoy

The Speakaboos team is among the best in the business with experience from Barnes & Noble, Leapfrog, Nickelodeon, PBS Kids, Scholastic and Yahoo!.

Neal Shenoy, CEO & Co-Founder is a Founding Partner at [212]MEDIA and Co-Founder of Saavn, the largest streaming music service in the world for Indian content. Noelle Millholt, COO & Co-Founder was an entrepreneur in residence at [212]MEDIA and worked in children’s programming at the American Museum of Natural History. Our Chief Content Officer, Dr. Alice Wilder, produced several of the top children’s television shows in the U.S. (Blues Clues and SuperWHY!). Our VP of Content Production, Amy Kraft, has built award-winning interactive storybook catalogs for Barnes & Noble, Scholastic, Leapfrog and Hooked on Phonics. Our VP of Product, Stephen Massoni, and our VP of Engineering, Thierry Sansaricq, helped build NickJr.com into the top kids video streaming site in the U.S.

The three things your friends say you are…

  1. Inventive
  2. Perfectionist
  3. Experienced

At Speakaboos, we like building better mousetraps. To successfully build a service that inspires children to become lifelong readers you need to re-invent the model for the delivery of children’s books: cross-publisher relationships, interactive storybook content that meets children’s expectations of the digital medium, distribution across all devices, channels and geographies, and a pricing model that is affordable but profitable.

We’re also perfectionists. Speakaboos is dedicated to a build, test and iterate model that starts and ends with kids. The result has been strong engagement with our early beta service with children consuming over 60 books per month and spending over 2 hours reading.

Perfection, however, comes with practice. Our team has seen success building the top children’s television shows, the most prolific interactive content catalogs and the biggest children’s entertainment properties online.

What are your three BEST life skills?

  1. We make you smarter
  2. We’re everywhere
  3. We have great earning potential

Publishers love Speakaboos because we invest in producing rich, interactive storybook content that we can position educationally using our proprietary pedagogy, research and testing. They also love Speakaboos because we are able to distribute to channels – both domestically and internationally – they may not reach including homes, schools and libraries. And finally, we can grow the revenue pie. As an access-based subscription model, we create recurring revenue streams in new markets that lead to the discovery and purchase of their books and apps.

What are you most passionate about?

We want to inspire a lifelong love of reading.

Books are losing ground to video and games because digital storybooks and the services that distribute them do not meet the expectations kids have of digital mediums. Speakaboos solves that problem by producing and distributing content that is engaging for children but fundamentally developmental through a scalable model built in partnership with the publishing industry.

What is the one thing that people don’t notice about you right away that you wish they would?

My brains.

Speakaboos is built on a proprietary, patentable technology platform with an Authoring Platform that enables interactive storybook content to be produced once and published across iOS, Android and Web platforms simultaneously; a Playback Engine that enables multi-screen content delivery via a subscription service across web and mobile platforms synchronously and a Child-Directed User Interface that is universal across all devices.

Your best (and most sincere) VC pickup line reduced to the length of a tweet…

Speakaboos inspires kids to read more and at the same time we help our our partners make money.

Complete this phrase: Valentine’s Day is for _______________.

…sharing a book you love with the one you love.

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