Be taught to code startup pi-top pulls in $four.3M to fund a worldwide edtech push


London-based computing and learn-to-code startup pi-top has closed a £three.5million ($four.3M) Sequence A spherical of funding, led by Hambro Perks and with Dedicated Capital additionally collaborating.

The startup — which started life as a pupil undertaking in 2014 to 3D print a Raspberry-Pi powered laptop computer, turning right into a crowdfunding marketing campaign for a laptop computer housing equipment for the low value microprocessor — has now raised greater than £four.9M in whole, and grown its workforce from two to 26 in simply 18 months. 

Pi-top closed a £1.3M seed final December, and likewise took in greater than $410,000 by way of Indiegogo to fund constructing its two Pi-powered merchandise: the unique pi-top laptop computer, and the extra affordably priced pi-topCEED desktop laptop.

Each merchandise shipped to backers, with the latter arriving just about on schedule final Might — and the unique pi-top taking a bit longer, however transport earlier than the top of 2015.

They’ve bought a complete of 11,000 pi-tops ($265 + a Pi) and simply over 10,000 pi-topCEEDs ($115 + a Pi) so far, in keeping with co-founder Jesse Lozano, with most bought within the final six months because the workforce has ramped up in dimension.


In addition to the for housing the low value Raspberry Pi microcomputer, the workforce makes software program designed to make studying to code easier and extra enjoyable for a goal age vary of roughly 10- to 16-year-olds.

Each units are due to this fact firmly focused on the academic market, though Lozano says they do have “a significant portion” of adults shopping for the  to make use of it for creating apps or for engaged on their very own electronics interest initiatives. “We focus on catering to those who want to learn which more often than not tends to be at the younger ages,” he provides.

The pi-top’s software program stack consists of pi-topOS, which construct on the Raspberry Pi ‘s Raspbian with a straightforward to make use of interface, supporting normal computing duties resembling shopping the online, checking emails, creating and modifying textual content paperwork, and enjoying video games.

The workforce’s flagship software program choices are its CEEDUniverse studying sport and pi-topCODER, that are each aimed toward educate coding in a gamified atmosphere — the previous being an MMORG however with the sport lore integrally linked with coding and sensible computing expertise.

They declare these instruments will have college students reaching increased grades in computing and STEM topics in “three to six months of play”. Whereas the overarching mission for the enterprise is to construct a scalable ecosystem for faculties internationally to show laptop science and STEM-based topics extra successfully, so enabling lecturers and learners to plug into different related training assets too.

“2016 has been a fantastic year which has seen Pi-Top products picked up by 16+ retailers and distributors, including some of the largest educational distributors in the world,” Lozano tells TechCrunch. “We have now closed on this larger £3.5 million round in order to expand our team into the U.S. and focus on growing our user base across the education sector.”

For his or her U.S. push they’re planning to open an workplace in Texas in 2017.

Increasing into China and India’s training markets can be on the playing cards, with Pi-Prime working with native big Educomp within the latter market. Different edtech distribution partnerships they’ve secured to this point embody with BT Training, RS Elements, and Adafruit within the US. The pi-top now sells to 70 international locations.

In addition they now have their very own purpose-built manufacturing facility in China — producing greater than 5,000 items every month — and predict to prime greater than 75,000 customers in 2017. So that they’ve scaled up from successfully making items to order, after crowdfunding the product growth, to being able to producing 1000’s of units a month having fully rebuilt their meeting level in China to fulfill demand.

“We are an edtech company at this point and that was largely our intent from the beginning. Although we have a good portion of sales that are retail and consumer facing, being in the DIY and STEM space does mean there is always going to be some cross over,” says Lozano. “I’d say although that we do function very otherwise from what most individuals would count on out of an training firm.

“We are an engineer heavy team that creates every aspect of our products except for the Raspberry Pi and we own our supply chain 100% (my co-founder Ryan has now lived at our assembly point in Shenzhen for over a year taking lead on this aspect of pi-top), we even designed our own freight boxes to reduce shipping damage to an absolute minimum. Every aspect of what we do is engineered to work together to provide a great quality product at industry beating affordability.”

“This approach has allowed us to completely redefine what affordable means in STEM education, pi-topCEED is just $149.99, it’s well below the cost of any comparable device on the market,” he provides.

Lozano says the dearer pi-top is proving specific well-liked for house and code membership use, because of a 10+ hour battery life. Whereas the decrease priced pi-topCEED is promoting effectively to colleges and organisations on the lookout for “a great low cost computer”.

“With it’s 14″ HD screen pi-topCEED is actually half the cost of your average school computer setup and underneath of all our curriculum mapped STEM content it is a great little desktop that can be used just like a normal school computer,” he provides. “The special part of both devices though is the ability to upgrade them whenever a new Raspberry Pi is released, this gives our laptops and desktops incredibly long use cycles whilst staying on the front of the technology wave at literally never before seen prices.”

One competitor within the be taught to code Pi-powered house is the (additionally) London-based Kano — however the equal Kano product (with keyboard and display screen) prices $300 or extra. So you may see why resource-strapped faculties and code golf equipment can be eyeing pi-tops with curiosity.

Greater than 500 faculties are utilizing pi-tops at this level, in keeping with Lozano, with “thousands” of scholars offering suggestions on the CEEDUniverse sport — which continues to be in beta at this level (and requires pi-top to run it).


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Désiré LeSage


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