Now a Series A startup, kids’ app and ‘digital toy’ Pok Pok is coming to Android


child playing Pok Pok
Image Credits: Pok Pok

Pok Pok, a kids’ app maker focused on building play-based learning experiences for the preschool set, has made a name for itself in the iOS developer community after winning both an App Store award for cultural impact and an Apple Design Award. But now the company is ready to expand its reach by bringing its app and new STEM-based activities to families with both iOS and Android devices, thanks to its latest funding.

The app, Pok Pok Playroom, today offers 17 play experiences that are more akin to “digital toys” than games, as they allow kids to explore with creative play. There are “toys” that respond to touches, drawing tools, those for interacting with shapes, dress-up toys, dinosaur toys and much more.

Originally incubated inside Snowman, the studio behind award-winning iOS games like Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey, Skate City and others, the idea for Pok Pok emerged from the company’s culture of tinkering.

Snowman employees Mathijs Demaeght and Esther Huybreghts, now Pok Pok VP of design and chief creative officer, respectively, were looking for an app to entertain their young son James when he was a toddler. However, the co-founders didn’t find many options they liked. They wanted something playful, but not too technical and not gamified. After prototyping a product, they showed it to Snowman co-founder and creative director Ryan Cash, who saw the potential. Ryan’s sister, Melissa Cash, whose background was in developing products for babies and toddlers at Disney, joined the team and is now CEO of the Pok Pok spinout.

In the years since its May 2021 debut, Pok Pok has added new learning experiences to its app, raised a $3 million seed round and reached six figures in terms of monthly recurring revenue. Over the past year, the business has grown by 5x and the subscriber base by 9x, though the startup isn’t yet ready to share hard numbers. The app itself has over a million downloads.

Image Credits: Pok Pok

The startup’s growth caught investors’ attention, leading to a $6 million Series A. The round was led by Adjacent’s Nico Wittenborn, who has also backed other subscription businesses like Oura, Calm, Clue and Blinkist. Also participating in the round were Konvoy Ventures, Metalab Ventures, Banana Capital and other angel investors, including Instacart’s Brandon Leonardo.

Though pleased to have raised an oversubscribed round, the team realized they didn’t have any women on their cap table, which made them uneasy, given that the women-led company builds products for families.

“That just didn’t sit right,” said CEO Melissa Cash. “So we decided to make some allocation changes. We set aside some cash from the round. We did a first close because we didn’t want to hold up everything, but we took cash out and did a second close, which actually took us longer to raise than the first close because it was very tough to find female investors who participate at Series A and beyond.”

The team found that a lot of the women-led VCs tended to be pre-seed or seed or those who were involved in funds, but weren’t the decision-makers and check writers.

“That nuance was pretty important to us. And then we would find a lot of wonderful angel investors, but they didn’t have the capital or the wealth, frankly, to be able to invest in a Series A because, obviously, there’s a minimum check size. So it was a really eye-opening experience,” she said. “We thought if there’s any company that can get female backing, it’s Pok Pok.”

The second close of the round took them longer than the first due to these challenges and includes investors like Michelle Kennedy from Peanut.

Another one of the new investors ended up being Pok Pok’s fractional CFO, Julie McGill, who’s also an LP in several bigger venture funds. Like Pok Pok’s team, she was frustrated by the trouble the company was having to find women to add to the cap table. McGill ended up starting a brand-new fund, Julie Change Fund, just to invest in Pok Pok. The fund will now focus on bringing in wealthy individual women investing at the Series A stage and beyond.

“Pok Pok is the catalyst for starting a fund I have been thinking about for years; this fund is my commitment to breaking barriers women face in accessing, driving and accumulating capital,” McGill said in a statement. “We are thrilled to partner with Pok Pok, a company that excels at driving capital efficient growth, led by two amazing women.”

With the additional funds, Pok Pok is going to expand its offerings to include more STEM-based activities, in response to parents’ requests for more traditional learning experiences in the app alongside the more playful ones. The new activities will still be targeted to the preschool crowd, though Pok Pok is aware that even younger and older users continue to use its app and designs accordingly.

The company will also be able to address demand for Android later this fall. Many families have Android tablets for their kids because of the more accessible price points, Cash said.

“We want to make sure Pok Pok can be accessible to everybody. And we’ve had this waitlist growing for quite some time, so we have thousands of users … just waiting for it,” she said.

More TechCrunch

Fisker is just a few days into its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the fight over its assets is already charged, with one lawyer claiming the startup has been liquidating assets…

The fight over Fisker’s assets is already heating up

A hacker is advertising customer data allegedly stolen from the Australia-based live events and ticketing company TEG on a well-known hacking forum. On Thursday, a hacker put up for sale…

Hacker claims to have 30 million customer records from Australian ticket seller giant TEG

Welcome to Startups Weekly — Haje‘s weekly recap of everything you can’t miss from the world of startups. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday. Elon…

Tesla makes Musk best-paid CEO of all time and Fisker bites the dust

Dot is a new AI companion and chatbot that thrives on getting to know your innermost thoughts and feelings.

Dot’s AI really, really wants to get to know you

The e-fuels startup is working on producing fuel for aviation and maritime shipping using carbon dioxide and other waste carbon streams.

E-fuels startup Aether Fuels is raising $34.3 million, per filing

Fisker was facing “potential financial distress” as early as last August, according to a new filing in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, which the EV startup initiated earlier this week.…

Fisker faced financial distress as early as last August

Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary of General Motors, has agreed to pay a $112,500 fine for failing to provide full information about an accident involving one of its robotaxis last year.…

Cruise clears key hurdle to getting robotaxis back on roads in California

Feel Therapeutics has a pretty original deck, with some twists we rarely see; the company did a great job telling the overall story.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Feel Therapeutics’ $3.5M seed deck

The Rockset buy fits into OpenAI’s broader recent strategy of investing heavily in its enterprise sales and tech orgs.

OpenAI buys Rockset to bolster its enterprise AI

The U.S. government announced sanctions against 12 executives and senior leaders of the Russia-based cybersecurity giant Kaspersky. In a press release, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets…

US government sanctions Kaspersky executives

Style DNA, an AI-powered fashion stylist app, creates a personalized style profile from a single selfie. The app is particularly useful for people interested in seasonal color analysis, a process…

Style DNA gets a generative AI chatbot that suggests outfit ideas based on your color type

Rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are surging among U.S. teens. A recent report from the Center of Disease Control found that nearly one in three girls have seriously…

Khosla-backed Marble, built by former Headway founders, offers affordable group therapy for teens

Cover says what sets it apart is the underlying technology it employs, which has been exclusively licensed from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A new startup from Figure’s founder is licensing NASA tech in a bid to curb school shootings

Spotify is introducing a new “Basic” streaming plan in the United States, the company announced on Friday. The new plan costs $10.99 per month and includes all of the benefits…

Spotify launches a new Basic streaming plan in the US

Photographers say the social media giant is applying a ‘Made with AI’ label to photos they took, causing confusion for users.

Meta is tagging real photos as ‘Made with AI,’ say photographers

Website building platform Squarespace is selling Tock, its restaurant reservation service, to American Express in a deal worth $400 million — the exact figure that Squarespace paid for the service…

Squarespace sells restaurant reservation system Tock to American Express for $400M

Featured Article

Change Healthcare confirms ransomware hackers stole medical records on a ‘substantial proportion’ of Americans

The February ransomware attack on UHG-owned Change Healthcare stands as one of the largest-ever known digital thefts of U.S. medical records.

19 hours ago
Change Healthcare confirms ransomware hackers stole medical records on a ‘substantial proportion’ of Americans

Google said today that it globally paused its experiment that aimed to allow new kinds of real-money games on the Play Store, citing the challenges that come with the lack…

Google pauses its experiment to expand real-money games on the Play Store

Venture firms raised $9.3 billion in Q1 according to PitchBook data, which means this year likely won’t match or surpass 2023’s $81.8 billion total. While emerging managers are feeling the…

Kevin Hartz’s A* raises its second oversubscribed fund in three years

Google is making reviews of all your movies, TV shows, books, albums and games visible under one profile page starting June 24, according to an email sent to users last…

Google is making your movie and TV reviews visible under a new profile page

Zepto, an Indian quick commerce startup, has more than doubled its valuation to $3.6 billion in a new funding round of $665 million.

Zepto, a 10-minute delivery app, raises $665M at $3.6B valuation

Speak, the AI-powered language learning app, has raised new money from investors at double its previous valuation.

Language learning app Speak nets $20M, doubles valuation

SpaceX unveiled Starlink Mini, a more portable version of its satellite internet product that is small enough to fit inside a backpack.  Early Starlink customers were invited to purchase the…

SpaceX debuts portable Starlink Mini for $599

Ali Rathod-Papier has stepped down from her role as global head of compliance at corporate card expense management startup Brex to join venture firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) as a partner…

Brex’s compliance head has left the fintech startup to join Andreessen Horowitz as a partner

U.S. officials imposed the “first of its kind” ban arguing that Kaspersky threatens U.S. national security because of its links to Russia.

US bans sale of Kaspersky software citing security risk from Russia 

Apple has released Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 and Final Cut Camera, the company announced on Thursday. Both apps were previously announced during the company’s iPad event in May.…

Apple releases Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 and Final Cut Camera

Paris has quickly established itself as a major European center for AI startups, and now another big deal is in the works.

Poolside is raising $400M+ at a $2B valuation to build a supercharged coding co-pilot

The space industry is all abuzz about how SpaceX’s Starship, Blue Origin’s New Glenn, and other heavy-lift rockets will change just about everything. One likely consequence is that spacecraft will…

Gravitics prepares a testing gauntlet for a new generation of giant spacecraft

LTK (formerly and RewardStyle), the influencer shopping app with 40 million monthly users, announced on Thursday the launch of a free direct message tool for creators to instantly share…

Influencer shopping app LTK gets an automatic direct message tool

YouTube appears to be taking a firm stance against Premium subscribers who attempt to use a VPN (virtual private network) to access cheaper subscription prices in other countries. This week,…

YouTube confirms crackdown on VPN users accessing cheaper Premium plans