The state of children’s mental health was a major public health issue prior to COVID-19, and research indicates that the pandemic-fuelled shift to remote learning and associated social isolation only intensified the problem.

For Moozoom founder and CEO Jean-Philippe (JP) Turgeon, a longtime lawyer-turned-tech entrepreneur, the topic is a personal one. Prior to launching Moozoom, Turgeon had been working as a corporate lawyer for nearly 20 years when his daughter attempted suicide in the midst of a mental health crisis.

“I was pretty successful in what I was doing and the price to pay for that is not being aware of what’s happening around you,” Turgeon told BetaKit in an interview. “That kind of hit me in the face, not being able to be there for my kid, and I felt guilty about what had happened to her.”

For Turgeon, who has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and was dealing with his own anxiety, these circumstances woke him up to a larger issue.

“It all comes [down] to, okay, how do we get kids to learn basic socio-emotional skills when they’re six years old—not wait until they’re 18 years old, and everything goes sideways?”

Turgeon left a lucrative partner role at law firm Lavery Avocats in late 2019 to build Montréal-based Moozoom and address this problem. Through its socio-emotional learning (SEL) software and interactive, live-action videos focused on topics ranging from rejection to bullying, Moozoom aims to help elementary school students build life skills and learn to handle everyday challenges.

“I saw the problem [and] I saw a business opportunity that would meet my need [to] do something bigger than myself, and help millions of kids,” said Turgeon. During its first year following its launch in May 2020, the startup onboarded around 500 schools. Today, Moozoom serves over 200,000 active students across nearly 1,000 schools in Canada and the United States (US), generating $1.2 million in annual recurring revenue.

This early traction helped Moozoom secure $5 million CAD in seed funding led by Toronto-based Amplify Capital, with support from Telus’ corporate impact fund, the Telus Pollinator Fund for Good, to ramp up its US expansion efforts.

“With Moozoom, we saw a world-class product that enables teachers to transform their [SEL] curriculum and students to become more engaged, less isolated, and improve their mental health,” Telus Pollinator Fund managing partner Blair Miller told BetaKit.

Moozoom’s convertible note seed financing, which closed at the end of May, also saw support from Montréal-based Fondaction and Formentera Capital. The round brings Moozoom’s total funding to $5.75 million.

Turgeon believes having investors “that really understand” businesses in the impact space on Moozoom’s cap table, like Amplify and Telus, will help the startup as it grows.

“JP’s lived experience ensures that the Moozoom’s product is informed by those who will benefit including the students, parents, and teachers,” said Miller.

Amplify was also attracted to Turgeon’s backstory. “To leave such a coveted position to build a scalable and accessible solution so that no parent or family member would ever have to experience what he went through, speaks volumes of [Turgeon’s] conviction and relentless pursuit of materializing Moozoom’s bold vision,” Amplify principal Daniel Armali told BetaKit.

Armali added that Amplify was drawn to the startup given “the urgency of the problem and early results from Moozoom students,” noting that the company’s software has the potential to have “a significant positive impact on children’s mental health and academics.”

Moozoom is working for a noble cause which is praiseworthy. Congratulations on the funding and my best wishes to the entire team. This will bring them huge success in coming years.

Shishir Gupta CEO & Founder startuplanes

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