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A U.K. startup that creates DIY gadget-building kits for kids has closed a £1.2 million ($1.8 million) seed round led by SaatchInvest, with participation from European seed-stage VC fund Backed, along with a handful of other individual investors.
Founded out of London in 2012, Technology Will Save Us is one of a number of companies across the country offering starter kits designed to tempt youngsters into technology — there’s Kano, which invites kids to build their own micro-computers, and Raspberry Pi, which offers something similar.
But Technology Will Save Us doesn’t just focus on mini-PCs — it offers everything from DIY synth kits and gamer kits to build-your-own speaker kits. It tries to focus on practical use-cases, including hobbies such as music, cycling, gaming, and gardening to make the kits appeal to young minds.
The company claims to have shifted more than 50,000 kits to date — priced starting at £15 ($22) — and was also called on to design the BBC Micro:Bit, a miniature computer that will be donated to 1 million kids across the U.K.
All the kits are designed in-house, with manufacturing taking place in the U.K. So far, the company has distributed kits to almost 90 countries, including the U.S., where it says Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) gift shops sold out within hours of the launch.
As with similar startups, like Kano and Raspberry Pi, Technology Will Save Us’ core raison d’être — beyond making money — is to address the much-maligned digital skills gap, which results in companies struggling to find tech talent and kids leaving school without the skills to succeed in an increasingly tech-focused world.
“Having taught alongside our developing careers, we were both aware of the crisis in technology education,” said Bethany Koby, cofounder and chief executive at Technology Will Save Us. “While kids are very much consumers of technology, they typically find computing complex and scary.”
Today’s announcement follows the previous £750,000 ($1.1 million) in angel and grant funding the company received from Google, Nesta, SaatchInvest, and some angels. The fresh cash influx will be used to expand the company’s DIY product range and build more retailer partnerships.
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