© Zazou
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About Zazou

  • Founders: Nathan Blondé, Hu Li Ocean, Celien Coppé
  • Founded in: 2019
  • Employees: 3
  • Money raised: -
  • Ultimate goal: Become the Booking.com of the recreation industry.

You want to get your kids into a fun hobby or to join a sports club. But which one? There are so many to choose from nowadays that sometimes parents suffer from choice stress. The start-up Zazou has come up with a solution to this. The company has an online platform packed with activities for children. The goal is to give parents a complete overview of what is on offer locally. For this instalment of start-up of the day, Innovation Origins spoke with Nathan Blondé, founder of Zazou.

How did you come up with the idea for this start-up?

“It stems from an annual tradition. At the start of the new school year, scores of organizations, from sports clubs to youth movements, hold free trial classes or opening days. Very inviting, but for parents it is not always clear exactly what is happening. They have to check out all of the websites of the various sports clubs, for example, and then register on one of them. The registration procedure also differs from sport club to sport club. Through our app, the parents can create a profile, choose a sport and immediately register with the sports club. They can also pay online straight away. It’s very user-friendly.” 

How is it doing now?

“We have rolled out our platform successfully at a pilot project in Ostend and surrounding areas. We’re now available throughout Flanders. Right now, the platform has around 1,000 families and 40 organizations. We aim to offer activities all over Flanders by the end of 2022. We were also accepted into the Start it @KBC program, Belgium’s largest start-up accelerator, and the network for entrepreneurs Netwerk Ondernemen. We launched our project just before corona. We’re very happy that we survived this crisis. That’s a huge victory for us.”

How do you choose which clubs?

“Everyone is welcome. After a quality check, they can put all their activities on the platform. We want to avoid that anybody can just offer their activities on our platform. Clubs can register themselves by sending us an email.”

Do the clubs also reap any benefits from your platform?

“Defintely. During our pilot project, we noticed that thanks to our platform, clubs can put themselves in the spotlight and recruit new members this way. They can also make themselves more visible with the help of our marketing tool. Moreover, we often help to improve the quality of intakes because children and parents consciously choose a club through the platform. We also help the clubs to digitalize. A win-win situation.” 

Is registration free of charge?

“Parents and organizations can register free of charge on the platform. Parents can do this through app.zazou.be. After registering, they can set up their family account and easily sign up for loads of activities in the area.”

What kinds of hobbies do children enjoy doing?

“About five years ago, I did a study on how kids end up joining sports clubs. It turned out that all too often children end up taking up a hobby that their parents did, their friends do, or a recreational activity that had just got a lot of media attention. For example, after the Olympics we saw an unprecedented spike in registrations for gymnastics clubs as a consequence of the Nina Derwael effect, the successful Belgian gymnast. We also saw that happening with field hockey clubs that suddenly had a high number of enrolments. These three reasons are not based on the intrinsic skills and experiences of the child itself. So that does not necessarily mean that the sport is right for the child.” 

What happens then?

“If a child spends a long time doing something against their will, they develop an aversion to it and quit. The upshot was that a lot of children stopped engaging in their sport or hobby at an early stage. This is why Zazou developed an online platform that gives parents a complete overview, in spite of the wide range of options. This way, they can let their children first explore and experience different kinds of hobbies before they choose a recreational activity.”

How important is sport for a child?

“Extremely important. Our preschoolers are spending more and more time sitting still throughout the day. They are moving less and less. Obesity is fast becoming the Western disease number one. Finding a good sport when you are a child is therefore extremely important. Giving children a sample of a lot of sports is key, for example through trial lessons.”