Hoop app for millennial parents secures £2.4M in a round led by BGF Ventures

You’d think that parents being able to find stuff for their kids to do would have been a solved problem by now, but apparently not. Indeed, the trend is towards more on-demand content on phones in this area which is why the Sawyer, based out of New York managed to close a round of financing recently, that included the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The trend has now hit the UK with Hoop, the family app that “helps parents discover and book what’s on for their kids” securing £2.4 million in a round led by BGF Ventures, the UK-focused fund. Other investors include ustwo, the company behind hit game Monument Valley.

The key to their interest is that Hoop is aimed at parents with children 11 and under. In other words, ‘late millennials’ who now have kids. They tend to be more demanding of their services and won’t sit on Google for hours searching for activities. They live in an on-demand world.

Hoop appeals to them because it takes privacy seriously (users are asked only for their postcode and also the age, rather than the date of birth, of their children); it uses an app to allow for location-based searching by time, distance from home and age; and there are of course lots of social features.

Launched in London in 2016, Hoop is rapidly expanding across the country with over 600,000 users and 50,000 different activities each month. The app was picked as one of Apple’s Top 10 apps in 2016 and was started by the entrepreneurs behind VoucherCodes.

Even in 2017 there’s little aggregation of information on children’s events, activities, and classes. Parents and carers have to check a variety of online listings, noticeboards and council websites, while looking out for posters and flyers in public places like coffee shops and libraries. I’m sure parents will find this a familiar scenario.

Hoop helps families discover fun things they’ll love to do in a few taps. Through personalized lists of events and classes, Hoop identifies those activities best suited for children based on their age, location, and interests. From local baby and toddler groups and family concerts to drama classes and creative workshops.

Launched in 2016 in London, Hoop has rapidly expanded this year to cover the whole of Britain, now listing more than 50,000 different activities each month. With 600,000 parents using the app, businesses that run activities for children have a digital marketing platform to reach new customers. Hoop taps into the multi-billion pound market for family activities and was founded by the entrepreneurs behind VoucherCodes, Europe’s largest coupon business, acquired by a US voucher business in 2011.

The app responds to the needs of a new generation of parents that manage their life on a smartphone.

Daniel Bower, co-founder of Hoop, says: “We believe that the influence of smartphones on modern families is going to increase significantly in the next few years as more Millennials become parents for the first time. This new generation of parents blend technology seamlessly into their lives and are confident using apps to manage their day to day life. They have grown up using Deliveroo, Uber and WhatsApp to organise their lives, and want to manage their family time in the same way, expecting information to be accessible at a moment’s notice.”

He says Millennial parents value experiences and activities more than accumulating items, hence why experience apps will win.

Harry Briggs, partner at BGF Ventures, said: “Hoop is far and away the best mobile app for solving the age-old question of “What shall we do with the children that’s fun, interesting and doesn’t break the bank?”. Hoop is one of those rare teams who not only have the talent and focus to build a revolutionary product, but are also on a mission to make family time more rewarding on a global scale. We’re incredibly excited to be joining them on that journey.”