Two edtech firms, Zoobean and Unruly Studios, are the newest to obtain funding from Amazon’s Alexa Fund — Amazon’s company enterprise fund centered on fueling innovation in voice applied sciences, and particularly, integrations with Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa. Zoobean, which you will recall from its Shark Tank look a couple of years in the past, affords studying software program to varsities and libraries. And Unruly Studios, a 2018 Alexa Accelerator alum, connects STEM studying for teenagers with bodily play.
Following its preliminary debut on Shark Tank, the place it acquired funding from Mark Cuban, the corporate has continued to develop its software program and increase its footprint. At this time, Beanstack is licensed to over 1,200 public libraries and faculties worldwide, and is also known as the “Fitbit for studying” due to the way it tracks and rewards progress.
Together with Alexa Fund, Cuban has additionally re-invested within the platform, joined by EAI Applied sciences, Jo and Elizabeth Tango, Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey, and Neil Jaffe of Booksource. The corporate didn’t share the spherical’s dimension, and Amazon declines to share the dimensions of its Alexa Fund investments.
Zoobean is now exploring methods to combine Alexa into Beanstack so readers can ask Alexa to trace their progress or sending them reminders about studying time.
Unruly Studios, in the meantime, is approaching studying via play. Led by Bryanne Leeming, the staff contains gaming veterans from Mattel, Nickelodeon, iRobot, Hasbro, and elsewhere, who’ve designed a product referred to as Unruly Splats — a programmable ground tile that pairs with an app with a purpose to permit children to play recess-style video games. For instance, the tiles can be utilized for issues like musical chairs, whack-a-mole, relay races and extra.
The corporate participated within the Alexa Accelerator final 12 months — actually, they even linked Zoobean founder Felix Lloyd with the Alexa Fund, because it seems. Unruly Studios is now exploring methods to attach its “Splats” with Alexa to make the expertise extra participating, whereas additionally instructing children programming fundamentals and voice design.
The Alexa Fund funding was a part of its seed spherical of $1.eight million, additionally introduced right now. The spherical was led by eCoast Angels, and noticed participation from new and present buyers together with AT&T, Tough Draft Ventures powered by Basic Catalyst, TechStars, LearnLaunch, and NextFab.
“We had been so impressed by Unruly Studios throughout their time with the Alexa Accelerator final summer time, and we’re thrilled to be reinvesting right here as a part of their seed spherical,” mentioned Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, about Amazon’s funding. “Their capacity to mix STEM schooling with bodily video games is inspiring by itself, and we see voice as a option to make that have much more enjoyable and fascinating. We will’t wait to see what they construct sooner or later.”
These aren’t the Alexa Fund’s first investments in edtech, nevertheless. Final fall, the fund invested in voice-based software program and companies firm Bamboo Studying, for instance. It additionally invested in Sphero, which extra just lately pivoted to schooling with Sphero Edu.
“One of many causes I’m so optimistic about voice expertise is as a result of it creates this communal expertise the place a number of individuals can share within the interplay,” mentioned Mark Cuban, in a press release concerning the Alexa Fund investments. “Each startup founder must be how voice companies like Alexa match into their enterprise mannequin, and it’s nice to see firms like Zoobean and Unruly take that to coronary heart. I’m excited to see them evolve their merchandise and use voice to make studying and STEM accessible to extra individuals.”