co.lab second cohort

Overview: The Seven Edtech Startups in co.lab’s Second Cohort

Today let’s take a look at the seven edtech startups that form co.lab’s second cohort. They were chosen out of 60 applications total and will go through a four month program.

Co.lab itself is an education technology accelerator program founded by, the independent not-for-profit branch of Zynga, Inc. and New Schools Venture Fund in 2013.

It focuses on innovative approaches in the digital games space for PK-12 students and teachers.


BrainQuakeThe startup builds casual mobile games and puzzles that are all based on core mathematical concepts. The first game, Wuzzit Trouble, aims at elementary and middle schoolers.

The Brain Quake team consists entirely of educators or former educators.

Opinion: BrainQuake is interesting as it’s entirely educator-led. I have kept hearing that incubators, accelerators and investors are determined to get more real teacherpreneurs into founding startups and leading teams.

Therefore, it will be interesting to follow a startup that is entirely made of educators and former educators, especially what challenges might occur. | Twitter

Kid Bunch

KidBunchKid Bunch was founded in 2011 and took part in the Startup-Chile incubator program in 2012 (Startup-Chile invests $40,000 equity free in each startup).

Kid Bunch targets young learners aged 2-8 with its mobile interactive adventures. The team consists of artists, designers, musicians and parents.

Opinion: We see the classic constellation here: you found, join an incubator and then an accelerator. I think, it makes perfect sense to join co.lab as this team will undoubtedly benefit from spending time with people working at Zynga and also to build a reputation in the US. | Twitter | AngelList

Kiko Labs

Kiko LabsKiko Labs develop scientific games for young learners from 2-7 years of age. Their game Thinking Time trains memory, reasoning and key cognitive skills.The game was designed together with neuroscientists from Harvard and UC Berkeley.

Kiko Labs have had a business model from the start as Thinking Game cost $4.99 on the App Store.

Opinion: At EDUKWEST we like startups that have a clear idea of how to make money with their product right from the start. The price of $4.99 is in the range where parents don’t have to think twice whether to buy the app or not.

The strong scientific focus and background of the founders is a plus.
I hope an app for Android will follow soon. | Twitter


PixowlThe startup was founded in 2011 and already raised a $1.2M Seed Round with participation of 500 startups and others in 2012. It was already part of the NXTP.labs mentor-led acceleration program.

The team develops mobile games for the whole family that have a comic-like feeling. Their best-selling title called The Sandbox has 10M players.

Opinion: This is a team of seasoned entrepreneurs and they will have learned one or two things along the way. Having attracted millions of users already shows the popularity of the games and thus the concept in general.

Just like Kid Bunch team Pixowl will be on a great learning curve when working together with Zynga engineers and designers. | Twitter | CrunchBase | AngelList

Timbuktu Labs

Timbuktu LabsWe first got aware of Timbuktu Labs when they took part in Jason Calacanis LAUNCH Education and Kids conference in 2012. The team have since also been part of 500 Startups batch 4.

Timbuktu Labs is the creator of a popular, free iPad Magazine for children to foster creative minds. The team currently has $570K in Seed funding.

Opinion: In my opinion the founders are the ultimate hustlers who take up every opportunity for exposure and to gain more experience that opens up, may it be a Startup Weekend, LAUNCH conference or incubator/accelerator program.

I like hustlers. However, I’m a bit astonished that they haven’t got more traction so far. Also, the magazine doesn’t have all brilliant reviews, although the latest version seems to solve many issues parents have had with Timbuktu.

I am sure that they are a clever team and will eventually figure it out. Sometimes you don’t end with what you had started. The business model is to purchase premium content via a subscription to the magazine. | Twitter | CrunchBase | AngelList


Tiny TabTinyTap allow parents and their kids to turn the moments they spend together into educational games. It is of course easy to also imagine this in a teacher-pupil-context, at least in iPad enabled schools.

TinyTap exists for iPhone and iPad and is currently free to download. The founders raised a $500K Seed Round and got a $1M grant from Verizon.

Opinion: By far not the first time I hear about this concept. I originally got pitched a very similar back in 2009 from a French entrepreneur, although at the time centered around materials and games to strengthen the educational outcome of a Skype conversation between kids and parents, grandparents. But the time was simply not right back then.

Bringing the concept to mobile makes sense. Young children as well as elderly people are at ease with iPads, and the number of parents who travel a lot or grandparents who live far from their grandkids is only going to increase. Once again, having access to engineers at Zynga is something very valuable for the team. | Twitter | CrunchBase


CourseMasterWe cannot say much about CourseMaster other than what is publicly available on the company’s website.

The startup is in private beta and we didn’t apply for access. Looking at the social media activities the startup seems to be very early on in their lifecycle.

According to CourseMaster’s website they want nothing less than to revolutionize the way students interact with course material, faculty and their peers.

For an accelerator that claims to focus on leveraging the power of digital games, this looks like an odd choice. However, if we take a look at co.lab’s badge 1 from late last year there have also been some inconsistencies. Maybe CourseMaster was an opportunity not to miss and will gamify course material. We shall see. | Twitter

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at