Grades K-5 | Technology Skills | App & Robot
Wonder Workshop Gets $6.9 Million—and a Home in Apple Stores
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Few startups can claim Apple as their first retail partner. But today, Wonder Workshop can brag about that—along with a fresh $6.9 million in venture capital.
The San Mateo, CA-based startup behind a duo of programmable robots raised the funds from WI Harper Group, with existing investors Madrona Venture Group, CRV, Maven Ventures, Bright Success Capital and other angels also participating in what CEO and co-founder, Vikas Gupta, says is a Series A1 round. The company has now raised $15.9 million in venture capital.
Founded in 2012, Wonder Workshop offers a programmable robotic duo, “Dash” and its sidekick “Dot,” that can make noise, move objects around and even play the xylophone. Designed for children ages 5 and up, the robots can be controlled with four iOS and Android apps, including Blockly, that introduce learners to basic programming logic. The company has also given 200 developers API access to develop other apps for the robots, but this program is still in beta.
The startup, formerly known as Play-i, set extraordinary high expectation even before polishing the product. It launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $250,000 in October 2013—and ended up with $1.44 million a month later. So far it has shipped more than $3.5 million worth of robots to customers in 37 countries.
Dash and Dot are about to get more attention. “Apple will be the first physical retail space for them,” Gupta tells EdSurge. “The biggest thing we’re excited about is that prospective customers will have the opportunity to physically interact with robots,” which will be available in Apple stores in the US and Canada. Dash & Dot can be purchased together for $229.95; an accessory pack that includes a xylophone, smartphone mount and other add-ons will run an extra $99.95.
In March 2015, Wonder Workshop launched its “Teach Wonder” program to introduce the robots in 150 elementary and middle schools around the country. The company offers introductory lesson plans to integrate programming activities into STEM curriculum, and boasts a growing community on Pinterest where teachers share other ways to use the robots in the classroom.