"We really believe games can be a force for good—not just for good fun, not just for good entertainment, but to help people grow their minds more than they could watching TV," Zynga cofounder Mark Pincus said, addressing a small crowd at the company's office in San Francisco. "We're excited to lend not just our space, but also the talent at Zynga. There's already an outpouring from Zynga employees to get involved."
As part of the partnership, Zynga has committed $1 million in funding for the first year, space in its headquarters to host the accelerator, and mentorship provided by its employees. Co.lab will begin accepting applications for its second cohort in about a month.
The current batch of startups—Kidaptive, LocoMotive Labs, Motion Math, Pluto Media, and Edmodo—began the five-month-long program in September.
LocoMotive Labs cofounder Sooinn Lee said her company, the freshest of the group with only $200,000 in seed funding under its belt, benefits from the founders meetings that take place once a week. "We share a lot of information with strategy and pricing," she told Fast Company. The Berkeley-based company, which makes educational games for children with special needs, has also gained insight with Zynga employees—and occasionally their children—volunteering to test its games.
Contrast that with Edmodo, often dubbed "the Facebook for schools," which counts 28 million teachers and students on its platform—and growing. The user base has grown by about a million users each week since the school year started. The company's head of product platform, Jeremy Glassenberg, said Zynga employees have provided Edmodo guidance with usability and analytics. "[Zynga] really has good expertise and can find the right people to help out," he said.