The Bay Area-based Wonder Workshop announced today that it has closed a $41 million Series C round of funding. The team has built a number of very cool little robots that kids can program on their mobile phone in a manner that helps them grasp at some computer science basics.
Tencent Holdings, SoftBank Korea, TAL Education Group, MindWorks Ventures, Madrona Venture Group and VTRON Group participated in the round, alongside some of the startup’s previous investors. Wonder Workshop raised $20 million in July of 2016 and has now closed more than $78 million in funding to date, according to Crunchbase.
There have been a handful of startups using hardware kits to let kids bring coding concepts into a more tangible setting. Wonder Workshop is unique in the way it thinks about robotics and CEO Vokas Gupta tells TechCrunch that their strategy is especially effective in ensuring that kids don’t stay in instructional “silos” and bring others into the experience.
“Robots are the natural way for multiple people to collaborate,” Gupta says.
Wonder Workshop’s programmable robots have been used in 12,000 elementary schools across the country. The startup has also put together its own robotics competition to teach kids STEM concepts.
With some of its new products, Wonder Workshop is looking to expand beyond instruction, from targeting 8-10-year-olds, to skills that are more engaging for pre-teens and teens.
Its latest friendly robotic coding companion, Cue, is for ages “11 and up.” The $200 robot launched last month and integrates a number of sensors that users can gather data from and control responses. It can be customized with a number of different “avatars” that give the robot a different personality.
Gupta tells me the new funding will be used to continue expanding the “global footprint” of current products while also investing in development of future devices.