SuperAwesome, the U.K.-headquartered ‘kid safe’ digital marketing platform that enables brands to put their wares in front of children, has raised a $7 million Series A. The company will use the money to “grow faster and reach more territories,” says founder Dylan Collins.
This will include growing its team in North America, and continuing to expand in Southeast Asia. “We’re hiring in the U.S., U.K., Asia and in several partnership conversations for specific regions,” he says.
Leading the Series A round is IBIS TMT, Twenty Ten Capital, and Sandbox and Co. Existing investors, including Hoxton Ventures (where Dylan Collins is also a Venture Partner), also participated.
Separately, a source close to the company tells me that SuperAwesome has increased its valuation 4.5x since its seed round in late 2014.
“When we started SuperAwesome, the objective was always to become the global digital kids marketing platform,” says Collins. “Nobody has done this (most of the major media companies are concentrated in one or two territories) and the faster we build out this global kid-safe infrastructure to connect brands with content, the larger we grow this market.”
That infrastructure includes technology, reach — SuperAwesome’s ad platform claims an audience of a quarter of a billion kids — and a new, extremely well-timed ‘compliance’ platform.
The latter, dubbed Kids Web Services (KWS), provides cloud-based tools, including a parent portal and kid-safe authentication, to help content creators manage new data privacy requirements that are becoming standard legislation for under-13s. In the U.S. this means the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA), while an equivalent will shortly be passed as law across Europe.
Major kids brands working with SuperAwesome include Hasbro, Mattel and LEGO.
Meanwhile, Collins says SuperAwesome is profitable or break-even. “This year, we’ll drive tens of millions of advertising dollars into the kids digital content ecosystem with annual growth of 4-5x and we’ve got a clear route to revenues of $100M+ over the next couple of years,” he says. “By virtue of existing we’re materially increasing the size (and safety) of the digital kids market so by any analysis, our value comes from continuing to grow fast.”
The startup’s fairly unique proposition also speaks to a digital kids market that is set to grow significantly over the next few years, as seen through recent initiatives by incumbent players in the tech and media industry.
Amazon quietly released a payment option for kids/teens a few weeks ago. And Sky just announced they’re building a kids video subscription app (being developed by UStwo, the dev team behind Monument Valley and many other highly regarded apps).
Google has also begun taking the kids market much more seriously, signalled by the launch of a child-friendly version of YouTube. More recently, the European branch of the search engine’s venture arm, Google Ventures, invested in kids personalised book platform Lost My Name.
One of the earliest to spot the kids market opportunity, in terms of being a marketing and compliance platform rather than a destination site, SuperAwesome has grown in part through acquisitions of its own, though Collins now frames these as largely acqui-hires. They include Spain’s Ad4kids, U.S.-based MobiGirl Media, and the sales and ad teams of kids virtual world Bin Weevils.
(And let’s not forget a failed attempt to take MyFamilyClub, the parenting finance community and Mumsnet competitor, off the hands of media giant DC Thomson. A deal that went right to the wire before ultimately being aborted.)
“All of our acquisitions have been for people, rather than technology (because of the very specific compliance needs, all of our products are built by our internal engineering team) so we continue to look at opportunities when they arise,” says Collins. “The kids market is extremely tough to scale up in so if any startup is interested in a strategic conversation, we’d be happy to have a chat.”