Interview with Estelle Lloyd, co-founder of Azoomee

Find out how her daughter’s online search for a nursery rhyme inspired Estelle Lloyd to launch Azoomee, an app offering 1,000s of child-safe games, videos and parent-approved chat, with her husband.

What’s your career background?

Though I was born in France, most of my career has been spent in New York and London. I worked in tech and media investment banking for over 10 years before founding my first start-up, VB/Research, with my husband Douglas in 2006.

In 2011, we sold the company to FTSE 250 Centaur Media plc. But it wasn’t until later that we came up with the idea for Azoomee.

Recognising that kids should have a 100% safe online space in which to be entertained but that there wasn’t one on offer, we developed Azoomee; an app offering 1,000s of child-safe games, videos and parent-approved chat, with no ads or in-app purchase options.

Where did the idea for Azoomee come from?

My three daughters were actually the inspiration behind setting up Azoomee. My middle daughter wanted to listen to a popular nursery rhyme, so she searched for it online. Unfortunately, what she found was not suitable for a seven-year-old!

My husband and I realised how easy it was for children to stumble across inappropriate content online, even when searching for something innocent like a nursery rhyme. Rather than ban them from going online altogether, we wanted to develop an app that allowed children to use the internet safety whilst also teaching them the best ways of navigating it. That’s how Azoomee was born.

What’s your USP?

Peace of mind for your kids online in one safe digital playground. Azoomee is built from the ground up, all content is hand-picked, there’s no ads, no in app purchases, so there’s no worries and the child is free to explore the games and videos which interest them.

Azoomee has filled a need that many parents have felt keenly, and this is reflected in the success of the app which has scooped numerous awards as well as support from the NSPCC and a BAFTA nomination.

Who’s your target audience?

Azoomee is enjoyed by children aged from 3-10, but the core audience is 5-9 year olds.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

We were thrilled to sign a distribution deal with O2, making Azoomee the sole entertainment provider for their new family tablet. We’re incredibly proud of this collaboration, as it’s almost unheard of for a family-run business like ours to partner with a giant telco.

When parents are looking for advice or new products, they tend to ask other parents, so reaching this audience and making them our advocates is key. We are always looking to increase our connections through social media and for Safer Internet Day released free resources for primary schools which were really well received.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Azoomee was our first venture into the consumer technology world, which posed a whole set of new challenges: How do you build an app for children? What is App Store Optimisation? How do you lower your Cost Per Registration?

These are just some of the many questions we had to figure out. It’s also an eternal challenge to keep an app dedicated to primary school children fresh and exciting. We think about that every day!

And your proudest moment so far?

Seeing our idea come to fruition. I think back to the first conversation Douglas and I ever had about wanting to keep children safe online to actually launching the app and it being available to anyone in the UK (and in 2017 the app was made available internationally).

It’s truly been an incredible journey with tremendous support from individuals and major organisations. At times it gets quite emotional – launching the app was an unforgettable moment for us and the team.

How do you balance your business with your family?

It can be hard to switch off during the week when your head is brimming with ideas but, come the weekend, we try and keep the work talk to a minimum. You wouldn’t call your colleagues up on a Sunday to discuss a work deal, so why should you do that with your partner?

Building a business is one thing, but we are a team back at home too and we share the load with one another. Douglas and I have three children aged between five and 12, we always try to share childcare and the boring chores as much as possible.

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

  1. Find purpose: do something that matters to you and that you’re passionate about.
  2. Build your resilience: create positive mental images for what success means to you and come back to these when you experience a setback.
  3. Invest in your team: understand what motivates them and give each person the opportunity to grow.

You can find out more about Azoomee here