London-based Banjo Robinson, a subscription-based learning model for children, have announced the completion of a €1.16 million pre-seed round led by Collab+Sesame, a partnership between Sesame Ventures and the Collaborative Fund.
Banjo Robinson is the creation of Kate Boyle, who set out in 2018 to turn learning into a magical game for children around the world. Before founding Banjo Robinson, Kate had an impressive career in LA, running writers’ rooms for influential screenwriter Etan Cohen, and working as a Creative Executive on Ghostbusters III and Men in Black III for Sony, Museum of Supernatural History for Steven Spielberg at DreamWorks, Candyland for Disney and Daddy’s Home for Paramount. The idea for Banjo Robinson came about when Kate was writing to friends’ children back home in England.
For a generation of tech consumers, proper, paper post was a fresh way to spread the magic of storytelling, and so Banjo Robinson – adventurer, penpal and magical cat – was born.
The new financing will enable Banjo Robinson to further develop their first subscription product which features a globetrotting cat who helps children learn about the world through interactive letters. Children receive real, personalised letters and creative activities twice a month from Banjo’s travels, and are encouraged to write back to their new penpal, posting their replies under the sofa at bedtime.
Banjo Robinson was first supported by the Government’s New Enterprise scheme, with a weekly allowance of €75.5. It went on to be 1 of 10 companies selected from 1250+ applications to take part in Techstars 2019 London Startup Accelerator program, and has benefited from access to their worldwide mentorship network. The round will help scale their ambition to become the next major children’s brand.
“I was a huge fan of Sesame Street as a child, and couldn’t imagine a more perfect lead investor than Collab+Sesame, who share our values of kindness, communication, learning through play, and humour,” said Kate Boyle, CEO and founder. “We’re looking forward to working closely with Sesame Workshop to help us develop Banjo Robinson into an even more valuable experience for children and families.”
Collab+Sesame supports the companies it invests in through strategic guidance and by leveraging its experience and extensive networks.
“I walked away from the very first meeting I had with Kate knowing that I was definitely going to invest,” said Eamonn Carey, MD at Techstars London. “I’m delighted that we’re able to continue to support Banjo Robinson and the team in this round. The reaction from kids and parents to the product speak volumes about how much those core values of kindness, communication and fun translate in Banjo’s letters. This new funding will allow them to bring that to a whole new generation of kids, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
“The team at Banjo Robinson have created a product which is totally aligned with our thesis of ‘better for you’ + ‘better for the world’,” said Taylor Greene, partner at Collaborative Fund. “It enriches the home learning environment, creates opportunities for connection, encourages creativity, time away from screens and is educational without children noticing. We’re incredibly happy to be working with Kate and the team, and look forward to climbing Mount Everest with Banjo in the near future.”