Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo Invests $21 Million in Tinkergarten

Financing

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo Invests $21 Million in Tinkergarten

By Wade Tyler Millward     Mar 25, 2019

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo Invests $21 Million in Tinkergarten

Over the past two years, Tinkergarten has nearly tripled both the number of teachers and total users on its platform that connects families with outdoor classes and activities for young children. And now, it’s added an impressive investment to its coffers to help the company continue growing.

On Monday, Tinkergarten announced $21 million from WndrCo, a holding company run by former bigwigs from DreamWorks and Dropbox with past investments that include the owner of Zagat, Mixcloud and 100 Thieves. The Northampton, Mass.-based startup will use the money in part to launch in more locations, co-founders and married couple Meghan and Brian Fitzgerald said.

As part of the deal, WndrCo partners Ann Daly, Anthony Saleh and Andrew Chang will join Tinkergarten’s board. This investment is WndrCo’s first in education technology. “We think the ed-tech market is a huge growth area and is a natural fit for our team, which is deeply experienced in the child and family category and in using technology to deliver quality content,” Daly said in an email.

Prior to this latest capital infusion, Tinkergarten had raised $8.3 million in venture funding. Tinkergarten started in Brooklyn in 2012 and grew through word of mouth and constant communication with parents to keep them engaged and invested in how play impacts their children’s development. The company sends links to articles and asks parents questions about how their kids play as part of that engagement. Older kids often go to classes with younger siblings. Parents also become teachers on the platform.

On Monday, the startup reported 2,000 instructors across all in 50 states, and over 170,000 children, who have participated in a class through its platform. The startup caters to children ages 6 months to 8 years old.

The Fitzgeralds want to add more classes in lower-income ZIP codes, and create more programming for younger and older children than they already serve. Tinkergarten supplies the outdoor-based curriculum written in a way that teachers anywhere in the country can adopt and has a mix of rural, urban and suburban communities where it offers classes. Training new teachers takes about four weeks, Meghan Fitzgerald said.

In spring 2018, they added installment plans to expand the ways parents can pay for classes. As an example, packages of classes in Oakland, Calif., cost about $200 per student for eight to 10 sessions at local parks and playgrounds, according to the company website.

The company, which has about 20 employees, is early in working with day care centers, museums and other community centers to add more classes. “Kids today spend less than half the time outside than their parents did,” Brian Fitzgerald said. “In our heart of hearts, this is what we believe families should be doing.”

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