KinderTown, a startup whose app store for parents points users to the top educational apps for children, has been acquired by Demme Learning, an independent publisher of educational materials, including Math-U-See, a K-12 math curriculum for parents and schools. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but the deal was all cash.
KinderTown had three full-time employees. One will help during the transition, and another after, but this does not include founder Steve Welch, who will continue his ongoing duties as co-founder at DreamIt Ventures.
The KinderTown app store, for those unfamiliar, was an iOS application which launched in late 2011 a resource for parents overwhelmed by the number of supposedly “educational” apps on the iTunes App Store. In KinderTown, apps are rated and curated by experts, and only those with “substantial educational value” are indexed in its own app store. Parents can search for apps by platform (iPhone, iPad), age, subject matter, and price, and then download their favorites directly from KinderTown, which links out to the iTunes App Store.
Initially, the app targeted parents of younger kids (ages 3-6), but later expanded to include older children, as well. In early 2012, the app saw some decent growth, and an increase in returning visitors, but at the time of the acquisition, the app had just under 400,000 users.
Welch says that the acquisition, like many do, grew out of talks of partnering with Demme. Those talk began early this year when KinderTown was looking to expand its “powerpacks” (mini lesson plans it sells to parents), and had reached out Demme Learning to discuss the possibilities of working together. Over time, the two companies found they shared a common vision, but Demme’s strengths were in physical products, and KinderTown’s strengths were on the digital learning side, says Welch. “Over time we continued the relationship, and we realized it just made sense. They’re a large organization, and they have substantially more resources,” he says.
As for KinderTown, it will continue to receive development, so nothing is changing from the customer side. The app will remain in the App Store. Demme will also invest in the product and help build out the parent engagement tools KinderTown was in the process of creating. Though the app was known for its app reviews and ratings, the larger goal was to be a more comprehensive resource for parents, notes Welch. “What we’ve really always seen as the vision of this business is to combine digital learning and physical learning – all types of ways to give parents really personalized information about their child and enhance their child’s education,” he adds.
Welch is not joining Demme Learning as he says it’s been tough doing a startup alongside DreamIt, not to mention being a parent to four children himself. But he will continue to support the company and other early educational efforts. “As a society, if you want to make a change, that’s where you have to start,” he says.
He also credits KinderTown’s success to its team, including product lead Brennan Knotts, Carolina Nugent, who has now joined Apple’s App Store team (which is now expanding its educational app section), and Kay Welch, Steven’s mother and early childhood educational specialist.