The creators of the Epic! app, a digital library service for kids, raised $8 million in a Series C round of funding led by Reach Capital, the education-specialized venture firm. Epic! plans to use the funds to expedite its growth, add to its team, and build out its platform for home and school subscribers. In the future, Kevin Donahue, co-founder of Epic!, even hopes to add virtual and augmented reality content to the app.
Epic! was founded in 2013 and launched its app in 2014. This on-demand digital library has grown to include approximately 25,000 books and educational videos appropriate for elementary students ages five through twelve. With publishing partners such as HarperCollins and National Geographic, Epic! brings a vast array of award-winning fiction and nonfiction to children’s fingertips, as well as audio books for them to read along with. Epic! also carries Spanish and Chinese books, along with bilingual versions of both languages.
In regards to his inspiration for the app, Donahue said, “We wanted to see if we could encourage kids to read more on digital devices even though videos and games are right there. We did that!”
Parents pay $4.99 per month for unlimited content with no ads or in-app purchases which will allow four different children’s profiles. The app must be connected to WiFi in order to stream connect, but books can be downloaded to be read offline which is great for family vacations. Epic! recommends books based on the child’s reading level and keeps a detailed log on which books they read and for how long. It also offers badges as a reward to keep children motivated to read and allows them to level up like they would in a video game the more they read. Epic! uses interest-driven focus to keep kids engaged allowing them to jump from a video into a book and other interactive content and back again. This allows children to surround themselves and read about things they are already interested in.
For educators, Epic! allows free access to the app and digital library. According to the company, 87 percent of K-5 schools in the U.S. are using Epic! for reading time in English language arts and other classes. Epic! allows educators to incorporate technology into their teachings as a way to engage students who have grown up in the digital age with mobile devices at their fingertips. Teachers can create profiles for all of their students and supplement their lessons with the books and videos provided. Epic! provides special book collections for a range of subjects including science, history, math, and government. They can also assign specific books to students and then create quizzes to test reading comprehension.
Many schools use Accelerated Reader (AR) or Lexile reading levels to determine what books a student should be reading. Students or parents can search for specific books using these parameters allowing Epic! to connect a child’s home education with the classroom. While Epic! does not have Accelerated Reader quizzes on its website, any book that has an AR number should have a corresponding quiz the student can take at school.
Reach Capital General Partner Jennifer Carolan said one of the reasons her firm invested in Epic! is the company’s ability to bridge the gap between home and school. “In classrooms all over, we saw Epic! spark children’s love for reading and inspire them to share their learning with others. We were impressed with Epic’s ability to capture the hearts of educators, children, and parents and create a seamless connection between school and home learning.”