Kano, a London-based startup company that makes a software platform and a DIY computer kit geared to encourage kids to learn coding, has announced that it has received $15 million in Series A funding. The financing is led by Jim Breyer of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Breyer Capital, along with other investors that include Collaborative Fund and Jim O'Neill, former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, TechCrunch reveals. Kano chief product officer and co-founder Alex Klein announced the news at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY event.
Kano CEO and co-founder Yonatan Raz-Fridman said that the funding will be used for four main goals.
First, Kano will expand its product platform - through the creation of more software content that can run on the Kano OS. The company will develop add-on hardware kits to expand into additional plug and play modular hardware.
Second, the funding will expand the business. Currently, Kano's main markets are the U.K. and the U.S. - and it intends to make the relatively low-cost computing platform available in developing countries such as India, China, Indonesia and Japan.
The third focus will be on its philanthropic division - the Kano Academy, which aims to expand the access to Kano products and encourage social entrepreneurship. One percent of the company's shareholding is allocated to its foundation, as the medium to fund the Academy's activities over the long run. At the same time, 1 percent of Kano units sold per year will be given to institutions and individuals who cannot afford them.
The fourth goal will be to step up Kano's hiring front. "We're planning to use some of the funding to build a team, build professional managers that can help us scale the business, bring more committed, talented developers, designers, product shapers... to really make the next step into becoming a global successful computer company," says Raz-Fridman.
Klein further said that the company will also launch a new Kano - aptly called the New Kano - which will use the newer, faster version of the Raspberry Pi. The New Kano will be available in May for $149, according to Fortune.
The Kano is a computer marketed for kids, wherein kids themselves can build the unit and then use it to program. The Kano costs $149, uses a Raspberry Pi board as the brains, and comes with a keyboard, Wi-Fi, speaker and other essentials. It operates on the open-source Kano operating system. Aside from appealing to kids, the Kano is also appealing to makers and hobbyists because it offers programs that allow users to build customized versions of the games Minecraft and Pong.
The New Kano, on the other hand, is a new generation of computer that includes new programs that intend to help kids learn programming - all part of Kano's rationale in starting a new computer company.
"We are trying to build a computer company with creativity rather than consumption at the core," Klein said. "We are surrounded by abundant, low-cost hardware and open source software and hackable technology, but [this generation] has very little understanding of how to use it. There are 8.2 billion computing devices out there but only 50 million people know how to talk to them. The most many of us know how to do is swipe and tap across the screen."
Kano initially started using funds from a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 that raised $1.5 million. It then went on to sell 40,000 units of the original devices and currently has 40,000 members from 86 countries in its online community.