MENLO PARK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--PixyKids (www.pixykids.com), an interactive and immersive social media platform where kids 6-12 can create, share, learn, and have fun through their personalized digital space, today announced that it has secured financing of $3 million including a $2 million investment by ATA Ventures and $1 million from other angel investors. Co-Founded by CEO, Rajul Kadakia, Kalpesh Savla, and Altaf Shaikh, the company also announced the appointment of accomplished industry experts Michael Adair, Chief Operating Officer, Neil Markey, Vice President, Engineering, and Kristen Alexander, Vice President, Marketing.
PixyKids aspires to become a premier social platform where kids can create their own content through interactive tools and apps, connect and share with family and friends, and build and publish a curated digital portfolio, all in an uninhibited yet safe manner. All kids create content – photos, videos, artwork, and projects – but options for how to customize and share that content with friends and family online are extremely limited. Many popular sites have not been built expressly for kids under age 13, while others have restrictive feature sets. PixyKids is being specifically developed for this segment and embraces family as key participants in the digital ecosystem kids are exploring. In fact, kids this age still seek out their parents for advice, particularly when it comes to navigating online, and also continue to seek parental recognition for personal achievements.
"Parents are looking for sites they can feel good about, that help their kids develop socially, offer positive reinforcement, and are creatively enriching. Today's kids are aspirational, tech-savvy, and have self-expression in their DNA. Both kids and parents are demanding a digital platform where they can share their everyday personal experiences, express themselves creatively, and build the lasting bonds that are so critical in these formative years," said Rajul Kadakia, CEO and Co-Founder of PixyKids. “We are very excited to be developing a social platform featuring fresh and relevant interactivity for both kids and their families in a single environment that parents can trust. And, I’m equally thrilled to welcome Michael Adair, Neil Markey, and Kristen Alexander to our executive team and introduce our founding Advisory Board members, who together will bring their collaborative expertise as we build the PixyKids feature sets and user base.”
PixyKids intends to empower this generation of digital natives with the opportunity to share moments, experiences, and projects they want to show off, ultimately creating a unique digital presence and portfolio that is curated exclusively by them, supported by parents, and is safe and compliant with COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The site also showcases sticky features such as customizable 3D avatars and backgrounds, a community wall, text and video chat, email, and a personal URL. Parents will be able to participate unobtrusively as kids organically pull them in, offering a window into their child’s growing independence.
“Kids have already demonstrated rapid adoption of digital technologies and they want to share in the emergence of social networks, interactive applications, and user generated content in a way that is relevant to their daily lives,” said Pete Thomas, Co-Founder and managing director of ATA Ventures. “While there are numerous sites that cater these experiences to adults, there are few destinations online that provide today’s kids with a safe place to create, share, and play with this unique set of requirements in mind. PixyKids is a first of its kind and I’m anxious to see kids experience this digital platform they can call their own.”
The PixyKids Management Team includes Rajul Kadakia as CEO, Michael Adair as COO, Neil Markey as VP Engineering, & Kristen Alexander as VP Marketing. Additional information on each executive is included below.
Rajul Kadakia is the Co-Founder and CEO of PixyKids and brings more than 16 years of experience in the areas of corporate strategy, operations, and business development including roles in investment banking at Wheat First Union and in business operations management at Hewlett Packard. Prior to co-founding PixyKids, Rajul founded and successfully grew a gift products company, Designs by Rajul, which designed, manufactured, and distributed handmade memory albums to online and retail stores worldwide. Rajul is a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Biology and a BBA in Accounting.
Michael Adair joins PixyKids as Chief Operating Officer, where he is responsible for strategic and financial planning, capital raising, strategic partnerships, business development, sales and operations. Michael has over 15 years of experience in the technology and media sectors, including roles as Vice President of Corporate Development and Finance at Glam Media, and as Head of North American Sales Finance at Google. Michael helped lead the Google team that managed strategic acquisitions including dMarc, YouTube and DoubleClick. Michael holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. from the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
Neil Markey joins PixyKids as Vice President of Engineering, where he is responsible for overseeing the delivery of the core technology platform. Neil has almost 20 years of experience as an engineering executive in fast-paced, high-growth software, mobile, and gaming companies, most recently as Chief Technology Officer at PlayFirst, a leading casual game publisher. Prior, he served as VP of Engineering at CafePress.com, where he led strategic technology direction. Neil also has over fifteen years of experience with Hewlett-Packard ultimately as Director of Engineering for their ecommerce site. Neil holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Staffordshire University.
Kristen Alexander joins PixyKids as Vice President of Marketing, where she is responsible for brand development, marketing strategy, campaign creation, and driving user acquisition. Kristen brings over 10 years experience leading marketing and product development for mobile, gaming, and online products for families and kids, and has led marketing strategy and execution for some of Disney’s most popular brands including Hannah Montana, Club Penguin, Fairies and Phineas & Ferb. Kristen holds a B.A. from the Gallatin School at New York University, where she completed her concentration in Business through an integrated program at the Stern School of Business.
PixyKids is also introducing its Advisory Board which includes Ryan Steelberg, CEO/President, Brand Affinity Technologies (prior, Head of Radio, Google, Co-Founder/President, dMarc), two-time Emmy award-winning producer & CEO, Masher Media, Sherry Gunther (credits: Simpsons, Family Guy, Dexter’s Lab), John Trimble, CRO, Pandora (prior, EVP, Sales, Glam Media, SVP, Sales, Fox Interactive), Jonathan Sposato, Co-Founder/CEO Picnik (prior, Google, CEO Phatbits, Microsoft Game Studios) and Brandon Barber, SVP, Marketing, KIXEYE (prior, Co-Founder/VP Marketing, Lionside, VP, Marketing, Zynga).
About ATA Ventures
ATA Ventures is a venture capital firm focused on seeking out early stage private companies that appear to offer above average prospects for capital growth. With over $450 million of capital under management, ATA Ventures focuses on Information Technology (IT) and provides seed capital and early stages of financing to these companies. For more information, visit ATA Ventures (http://www.ataventures.com).
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