Start-up of the week: Zeeko

22 Feb 2016

Zeeko founder and CEO Joe Kenny. Image credit: Paul Sherwood

Our start-up of the week this week is Zeeko, which promotes online safety for children by empowering children, their parents and teachers.

Zeeko is an Irish-owned and run start-up company based at NovaUCD.

The company was set-up in 2013 by Joe Kenny, an entrepreneur and a parent concerned about the lack of attention being given to the growing dominance of the internet in children’s lives.

With backing from Enterprise Ireland and personal funding, Joe established Zeeko to provide training and education to parents and educators in schools to help protect children as they explore the digital world.

The market

“At Zeeko we are involved in promoting online safety for children,” explains Kenny, who is the company’s CEO and co-founder.

“We believe in education through empowerment, for parents, children and teachers.

‘The key focus for a start-up should be to balance the revenue with your idea’

“Our target market at Zeeko is parents of primary school children and, in essence, we want to help concerned parents keep their kids safe online.”

The founder


Zeeko CEO Joe Kenny at work with marketing consultant Claire O’Broin. Photo: Paul Sherwood

Kenny is a parent to a young son and believes that the internet is a fantastic resource, but one that children need guidance to try and navigate.

He was concerned after seeing media coverage of how online chat rooms were having such a negative impact on young people’s lives and thought there must be a better way.

The technology

“At Zeeko, we have developed an app that is essentially a safe communication tool to help parents to introduce their kids to online communication,” Kenny explains.

“Our app allows parents to oversee every person that their child is connected with and every message they send and receive.

“The ultimate goal of Zeeko is to help protect children as they explore the digital world and to provide parents with peace of mind through education and technology.”

Talent and commitment

Zeeko has received Enterprise Ireland funding through the EI Competitive Start Fund.

“We have revenue coming from internet safety seminars we provide to children, teachers and parents in primary schools,” Kenny explained.

Kenny admits that the biggest challenge has been creating cash flow to sustain the business and also retaining talented and committed staff in such a competitive environment.

The company launched a successful crowdfunding campaign in January 2016 to fund the publication of an Internet Safety Guide, which provides tangible and specific advice on how parents, teachers, and others can protect children online. The guide advocates an open communication between parents and children, and provides specific suggestions on how to manage this.

“While our fundraising target was a nominal €5,000, we achieved our goal in three days, which is indicative of the demand from parents and educators for information in this area.”

The start-up balancing act

Kenny says the start-up journey is a balancing act between idea generation and revenue generation.

“There are resources available, they can take a long time and there can be multiple applications to get, but if a person keeps trying they will get funding.

“NovaUCD is an environment of like-minded people, who can share war stories and learn from each other

“The advice we would offer is that the key focus for a start-up should be to balance the revenue with your idea,” Kenny concludes.

“Use mentoring to help you to develop both your idea but also the operational expertise you need to make that idea a reality.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years