SAN FRANCISCO — Kano, the do-it-yourself computer aimed at kids, just closed a $15 million Series A funding round while also announcing an upgrade to its code-fueled brain.
The London-based company announced the news Monday at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York. The round was led by Breyer Capital. The new Kano model ($149) is powered by Raspberry Pi 2, an upgraded version of the popular open-source module that increases Kano’s processing speed six-fold.
Owners of the 40,000 first-gen Kano computers — which can be put together by children thanks to Lego-inspired illustrated instructions — can match the power of the new models and increase the fun factor on their existing units by purchasing a Powerup Kit ($89) that allows you to program a light show with the device.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride from our Kickstarter start (last fall) to now, but we’re passionate about giving the 600 million kids out there under the age of 15 access to coding through Kano,” says co-founder Alex Klein. “We’re about being a new kind of computer company, with the creativity of the user at its core.”
Klein adds that with the company now growing, he plans to adopt a 1-1-1 business model pioneered by Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, where 1% of the company’s product, equity and employee time is donated to helping non-profits.
Kano co-founder and CEO Yonatan Raz-Fridman says some of the new funding will go toward refining product design and extending the product platform to accommodate a growing number of extension kits geared toward unlocking the potential of young would-be coders. Some kids may want to connect Kano to their homes’ smart thermostat or robotic vacuum cleaners, while others may just want to build their own Minecraft worlds, he says.
“There’s just enormous untapped potential from this young generation,” says Raz-Fridman. “We’d like to build a new community around Kano.”
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