LittleBits, the New York-based open hardware startup and maker of a library of electronic Bits modules that snap together with magnets for prototyping, learning and fun, announced today an $11.1 million funding round. The round was led by True Ventures and Foundry Group and includes new investors Two Sigma Ventures and Vegas Tech Fund. Also participating in the round are returning investors Khosla Ventures, Mena Ventures, Neoteny Labs, O’Reilly AlphaTech, Lerer Ventures and an all-star lineup of new and returning angel investors noted below. Previously, the company raised $3.65 million in Series A funding and $850,000 in Seed funding, bringing its total funding to date to over $15mm. In June 2012, littleBits announced a partnership with global company PCH International to lead its Supply Chain Management.
Developed to inspire innovation in hardware, littleBits lets users create circuits in seconds, with no soldering, programming or wiring required. Part prototyping tool, part tech gadget, littleBits has been recognized as “LEGO for the iPad generation” and heralded as the most easy to use electronic construction kit in the world. The brand’s Bits modules revolutionize the way people interact with technology by breaking electronics down to their very basic parts (lights, sounds, sensors, motors, programmable circuits), and making engineering fun and accessible to “non experts” of all ages including children, teachers, artists, designers, makers, hobbyists and tech-enthusiasts.
“Over the past years we have seen high technology-innovation move from the hands of large corporations to the hands of amateurs in the areas of software, game development and 3D printing,” said Ayah Bdeir,founder and CEO of littleBits, MIT Media Lab alumna and TED Senior Fellow. “But electronics remains a very top-down industry, and is still prohibitive to beginners. littleBits aims to democratize electronics to allow anyone to become an inventor and make anything from an electronic doorbell to a fully responsive robotic installation. In the company’s initial phase, we focused on our core products and built the most extensive, easy to use, and highly modular electronics library out there, with close to 50 modules that enable motion, lights, sounds and sensing. This new round is about the second phase of our vision: to take this library and build the most versatile physical/digital invention platform in the world.”
“When we first met Ayah, we were blown away by her passion for science and inspiring creativity in the youth of our world,” said Jon Callaghan, co-founder of early-stage venture capital firm True Ventures. “littleBits is leading the way to the future of invention and play. We’re thrilled to be a part of this company in putting the power of the internet into connected, constructible things.”
littleBits has won over 20 awards, sells in over 60 countries and is a leader in the maker movement. TheMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA) added littleBits to its permanent collection. The company has been featured in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times Magazine, Fast Company and CNN. In addition, Bdeir was featured in a TED talk in 2012, which has garnered more than 700,000 views worldwide.
“Well before the Cylons take over, every device we own will be connected to the Internet,” said Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group. “As the maker revolution has exploded, we are now all learning about how to build both software and hardware. littleBits is an amazing company at the forefront of this and we are delighted to be able to join them on their journey.”
In September 2013, littleBits announced the launch of its new Exploration Kit series. Each Kit contains an assortment of Bits modules and a detailed project booklet with step-by-step instructions to kick-start users’ creativity. In early November, littleBits announced the Synth Kit, created in partnership with KORG, a leading global manufacturer of electronic musical instruments. The easy to use, high-quality analog modular synthesizer is the first of a line of products that raise the ceiling of complex invention made possible through littleBits. In the coming months, littleBits is releasing two game-changing products in partnership with world class leaders in science and technology that will mark its leadership in the space of hardware innovation.
Liam Casey, CEO of PCH International, commented: “We are delighted to partner with littleBits and are really excited about their potential for future growth, as PCH continues to help them to scale up. The littleBits team are incredibly innovative; their passion about the brand, design and the consumer experience is what makes littleBits an ideal partner for PCH.
Bits modules are always compatible and interchangeable, allowing users to create a growing library over time. Modules can be used for play, prototyping and learning; the applications of littleBits are limitless, and the company hosts a repository of crowd-sourced projects and tips and tricks on its website at littleBits.cc/projects.
Founded in 2011 by MIT graduate, TED Senior Fellow and Cofounder of the Open Hardware Summit Ayah Bdeir, littleBits™ (www.littleBits.cc) has grown to be a global leader in electronic construction kits. Named one of the Top 10 startups to watch by CNN, littleBits has one mission: to turn everyone into an inventor by putting the power of electronics in the hands of everyone. littleBits has partnered with global supply chain management leader PCH International to produce over seven Kits and over 50 interoperable Bits modules, and the products have been sold in 60 countries around the world. littleBits products have won over 20 product awards including an acquisition into the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) permanent collection, Dr Toy 10 Best Technology Products, IDEA Gold Award, Parents Choice Gold Award, Academic’s Choice Brain Toy Award, Popular Science Best of Toyfair and Makerfaire Educator Choice Awards. Ayah Bdeir was named no.33 on FastCompany’s most creative people in Business for 2013, and received a TED Senior Fellowship. The company has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg TV, NBC, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Fast Company, Engadget, Forbes, Core77, Make: Magazine, Financial Times and many more. For more info, visit littleBits.cc.
About hardware startup littleBits’ Investors
Investors in littleBits’ new funding round include True Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in promising companies like Automattic (makers of WordPress), Fitbit and Makerbot; Foundry Group, a Colorado-based fund who invests in early-stage information technology, Internet and software startups; Two Sigma Ventures, a division of Two Sigma Investments, which invests in and helps support companies pursuing innovative uses of science, data, and technology; and VegasTechFund, an early stage fund founded by Tony Hsieh.
Previous investors who also participated in this round include Khosla Ventures, a fund dedicated to computing, Internet, mobile and silicon technology; Neoteny labs, fund of Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab and former CEO of Creative Commons; Mena Ventures, fund of prominent Arab entrepreneur Fadi Ghandour; O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, the venture fund known for kickstarting the Maker movement; Lerer Ventures, a seed stage venture fund based in New York; Joanne Wilson, prominent angel investor, Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab and One Laptop Per Child, Jeffrey Walker, educator, advisor to the MIT Media Lab and former managing partner at JP Morgan.
Additional angel investors include Jun Makihara, Jay Dvivedi, and Mohamed Nanabhay as well as investors in previous rounds including telecom mogul Taha Mikati, financial investor Salah Chamma and angels Josh Spear and Jason Port.
About PCH International
PCH International creates, develops, and delivers the world’s best products for the world’s best brands. We offer transparent, sustainable product development and supply chain management services to a diverse range of clients, from Fortune 500s to innovative startups. Headquartered in Ireland since 1996, with operations in China, we believe geography is history. Our 5000 team members from 16 nationalities share the same purpose: Developing Partnerships Delivering Peace of Mind. www.pchintl.com