Austin’s Literati lands $12M to grow its subscription service for kids’ books
WASHINGTON: Austin-based startup Literati has landed $12 million to grow its subscription service for children’s books.
The company offers an online service that charges a recurring $9.95 membership fee for five curated titles a month. Once the books are delivered, members have seven days to try out the books and decide whether to buy them.
For purchases, Literati matches Amazon.com’s list prices. Books not purchased can be returned for free with a prepaid shipping label.
Literati says it selects “developmentally age-appropriate books” for children from newborns to age 12. Groups are divided by age into five book clubs; each monthly shipment includes a piece of custom artwork and book labels.
The 42-person company was founded in 2016 by Jessica Ewing and Kelly Carroll. Ewing previously spent five years building consumer products at Google and was featured in Fast Company Magazine as one of Google’s “12 Most Innovative Minds.” Carroll is a writer, book artist and designer.
Literati will use the funding to expand its business and develop new products, Ewing said.
“Austin’s startup ecosystem is growing and we are now starting to see more consumer companies in the mix, which makes sense,” Ewing said. “Creative people are attracted to music and the arts. We feel we embody both Austin’s culture of startup innovation and its rich tradition in arts and culture.”
The funding round was led by Nikhil Basu Trivedi at Shasta Ventures. Trivedi will join the company’s board of directors.”
Others involved in the funding include former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo; Katie Jacobs and Jessica Verilli at women-led angel investing firm #Angel; Dan Graham of Austin-based Springdale Ventures and Eventbrite founder Kevin Hartz.
Additionally, Literati received funding from Brent Montgomery and Wheelhouse, which is backed by comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. Literati previously raised $3.2 million from investors including Silverton Partners and Founders Fund.
“The book market is massive, and Literati’s growth, customer love and mission really blew me away as I spent time with Jessica, Kelly and the Literati team,” Trivedi said.
Ewing said the investors backing Literati will help the company reach long-term goals of building a sustainable business.
“We hit our stride in this round, adding key investors who really get our vision and can help us make it happen. This round affords us an opportunity to be strategic and invest in innovation, as opposed to the next short-term deliverable,” she said. “We want to build a lasting company that stands for lifelong learning and sparks revolutionary excitement in books and literature.”