From Shark Tank to the leading solution for reading challenges.

Since gaining an investment from Kapor Capital and Mark Cuban, Zoobean’s journey has reached new heights.

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Photograph of Zoobean in front of the sharks on Shark Tank.

The Shark Tank Effect

On April 18, 2014, Jordan and Felix appeared on Shark Tank and gained a $250K investment from Mark Cuban. But that night was one of the most challenging of their lives, ending with an almost trip to the emergency room for a panicked Felix. It was clear that the product they pitched on the show, a subscription box service for curated children’s book selections, would not work.

So, they changed course. And they headed to Las Vegas six weeks later for the American Library Association Conference. Over the years to follow, Zoobean has stayed focused on helping motivate people of all ages, especially kids, to read more.

What we've been up to since Shark Tank

What we’ve been up to since Shark Tank

2014

First Public Library System Signs On

At the ALA Conference, Jordan and Felix talked to libraries about how the proprietary recommendation engine that Zoobean used to select children’s books could help them engage local families. Sacramento Public Library, and their director Rivkah Sass, became the company’s one and only client.

2015

Sacramento Public Library Launches Beanstack

Sacramento Public Library launched Beanstack, a spring off of the original product. The library used it to send personalized recommendations of children’s books to families.

Montgomery County Public Libraries uses Beanstack for Summer Reading

Zoobean’s fourth client, Montgomery County Public Libraries in Maryland, tried using the product for its summer reading challenge. For MCPL, use of Beanstack skyrocketed with family registration being a key innovation.

2016

Beanstack for Summer Reading Catches On

Beanstack is licensed by almost 100 more libraries, primarily as a platform to run their reading challenges. Zoobean introduces the concept of concurrent reading challenges to help run multiple reading challenges at once for different age groups.

Zoobean Book Subscription Service Ends

As more libraries signed on, Zoobean decided to sunset the original subscription box service for consumers. The recommendation engine was entirely repurposed to be a part of the Beanstack product offered to libraries.

First Summer Reading Report & Client Spotlight Series

Toward becoming the single best solution for facilitating reading challenges, Zoobean publishes its first annual summer reading report and introduces its client spotlight webinar series.

2017

First School District Partner

Zobean launches Beanstack with Menasha Joint School District, and librarian Jennifer Peterson, to help facilitate the school year “Get in the Game” reading challenge. Beanstack is integrated with Clever and ClassLink for single sign on and rostering.

Public Library Growth with Reading Challenge Innovation

Zoobean increases Beanstack’s usefulness to libraries by focusing on a robust system for customizing reading challenges by multiple log types. The company crosses over one million dollars in annual revenue.

2018

Beanstack Tracker Mobile App & Hourglass

Zoobean launches version 1 of its Beanstack mobile app. The company also builds the prototype for a smart nightlight to track reading called the Hourglass.

School District Growth

Beanstack is licensed by over 10 school districts including the sixth biggest district in the country, Broward County Public Schools in Florida.

#WinterRead with Mark Cuban and Other Investors

Mark Cuban sponsors the first ever #WinterRead national winter reading challenge. He invests again, joining investors that include Kapor Capital, AlphaLab Gear, the AT&T Aspire Accelerator, RevUp Capital, the Center for Innovative Technology, and EAI Technologies.

2019

New Products for Schools and Families

Zoobean launches a new free product for schools called Beanbright and a sticker book and reading companion called Badge Books. It builds an Alexa skill with support from the Amazon Alexa Fund.

Improved Features for Engagement and Reporting

Zoobean licenses Beanstack to over 20 school districts and 600 public library systems. While improving the mobile app with versions 2 and 3, the company introduces “Insights” to help librarians and educators better visualize data.

Connecting Public Libraries & School Districts

In Broward County, Florida and Frederick County, Maryland, Zoobean introduces its “tandems feature.” This allows students to connect their separate Beanstack accounts with their school and local public library while giving each entity separate control of its content and data.

2020

Company Emerges As Reading Challenge Leader

Library Journal publishes a report showing Beanstack to be used by over 50% of libraries using software to help facilitate their summer reading challenges. The company enters the year with over 20 team members, primarily former classroom teachers, librarians, and engineers.

BeanstackGo Introduced to Consumers

Zoobean opens up its Beanstack mobile app to be used directly by consumers who may not be affiliated with a library or school district licensing Beanstack. Through BeanstackGo, Zoobean publishes ongoing reading challenges for all ages.

COVID-19 Presents an Opportunity to Help

The crisis caused by COVID-19 leads Zoobean to introduce free reading challenges to prevent learning loss through its Beanbright platform. At the same time, an unprecedented number of library systems turn to Beanstack to help with their reading challenges moving online.

What's Next

When Zoobean appeared on Shark Tank, it was just Jordan and Felix — a husband and wife team inspired by a mission to help kids become lifelong readers. The company now serves over 1,900 library systems (representing almost 10,000 library branches) and 1,200 school buildings. The mobile app and software have helped over 3 million readers participate in reading challenges and stay motivated to read.

Zoobean’s mission remains the same as does the company’s core values — love, awesomeness, and inclusion. The founders and their team are eternally grateful to be part of the Shark Tank family. Keep reading.

Love,
Jordan and Felix

Photo of Jordan and Felix

Explore Zoobean

Whoever you are, whatever you do, we’ve got a product with your name on it. Choose the path that fits you and we’ll help you keep reading.

  • Beanstack for Libraries

    Get higher levels of participation, and the data to prove it, for popular library programs including summer reading, winter reading, and 1KBBK.

  • Badge Books

    Our Badge Books are high-quality reading logs and sticker books that unite with the online experience to better engage young readers, all year long.

  • Beanstack for School Districts

    Customize district-wide and school-based reading challenges that motivate students to read by choice and build your school’s culture of reading.

  • Beanbright

    Our free Beanbright product for classrooms and school buildings provides ready-made reading challenges and data-driven insights.

  • Badge Books

    Our Badge Books are high-quality reading logs and sticker books that unite with the online experience to better engage young readers, all year long.

  • Beanstack Go

    For readers whose library or school does not use Beanstack or Beanbright, sign up on the Beanstack mobile app through our Beanstack Go option. You can track your reading and participate in ongoing challenges.

    Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play
  • Badge Books

    Badge Books are reading companions sent by mail to your child. As your family tracks reading in the app, your young reader unlocks virtual badges that reveal where to place stickers in the book.

  • Hourglass

    Our Hourglass is a prospective smart night light for families that would connect with our mobile app to make it easier for kids to track reading at home.

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