Deals

Hardware hacker startup grabs $3.65M for computer/Lego hybrid toy

littlebits

LittleBits is a maker/hacker startup through and through, and it’s just taken a sizable round of venture funding from a few of the bigger names in Silicon Valley.

Its product is half building block, half circuit board, and it’s intended both as a toy for kids and as a prototyping tool for hardware hackers. The “bits” each have a distinct function, whether it’s a blinking LED, an eight-bit beep, or a functional button; they snap together with magnets to make larger, interactive electronics projects.

LittleBits products are relatively affordable ($89 for a starter kit), and they don’t require a background in electronics, engineering, or computer science.

The funding, a $3.65 million round, is littleBits’ first institutional money; it was led by True Ventures with participation from Khosla Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and Lerer Ventures.

As part of today’s announcement, LittleBits also revealed it is working with supply chain management company PCH International to put LittleBits products into mass production starting August 2012.

Here’s a video showing LittleBits in action:

“We spend more than seven hours with technological devices every day, yet most of us don’t even know how they work,” said LittleBits founder and MIT Media Lab alum Ayah Bdeir in a statement today.

“LittleBits aims to break the boundary between the things we consume and the things we make, and make everyone into an inventor. We want LittleBits to be an affordable educational tool that is used in schools everywhere, and our new funding and new relationship with PCH means that we can now expand our team of super stars and reach even more people around the world.”

LittleBits received its first funding in the fall of 2011 from a small group of angel investors, including Joi Ito.

“Open-source software lowered the costs of innovation for software and Internet services and pushed it from big companies to startups,” said Ito in a release today. “The same thing is now happening in hardware, and LittleBits is one of the companies leading the way.”

Prior to the seed round from Ito et al., LittleBits’ founding team bootstrapped the product development for three-and-a-half years. The startup is based in Manhattan.