On Thursday, LittleBits, the maker of snap-together electronics kits for kids has raised $44.2 million in Series B round, increasing the company’s total funding to around $60 million. The funding was led by venture capital firm DFJ Growth and Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners. Alternative investment partners include Grishin Robotics and Wamda Capital, Foundry Group, True Ventures, VegasTechFund, Two Sigma Ventures and Khosla Ventures.
The New York City-based startup, LittleBits, started with making electronic toys for kids and then eventually grew into making prototyping tools for makers, business customers and anyone else. Its library of open-source electronic blocks that joins together like Lego bricks and let people put together an infinite number of creations like home security systems, crop monitoring systems, keyboards etc.
The current round of financing is three times larger than the $51.6 million it raised in four previous funding rounds, suggests the report. The company’s valuation with the recent round pushes to $169 million. The startup was initially looking to raise $30 million, but the company attracted too much attention that led way to some extra money. Investors say the potential and growth and wanted in, explained LittleBits founder and CEO Ayah Bdeir. Since its inception in 2011, the company has grown three to four times every year. “The company roots are in the maker movement, but we have now scaled far beyond that,” said Bdeir.
Following the funding, DJF partner and former chairman and CEO of America Online Barry Schuler is soon to become one among the board of directors of LittleBit. “LittleBits is at an inflection point and we are thrilled to back the company, Ayah and her team, through this next chapter of explosive growth,” said Schuler. He also added, “Over the past decades we have seen the disruption of several industries, from media to software and app development. Hardware is up next and littleBits in leading the charge.”
Apart from Schuler, former MakerBot CEO Jenny Lawton is joining as chief strategy officer.Former Lego executives Paal Smith-Meyer and Christian Thor Larson are joining the marketing team to expand the company’s presence globally. With the new funds, other than taking in new people, it is also working on to increase the sales and widen the business internationally. It is also intending to develop new enterprise initiatives through its old partners SAP, Twilio and Salesforce.
To boost the startup’s expansion worldwide, LittleBits recently introduced its Global Chapters Program, which provides access to the company’s catalogue to the local groups to have classes around crating new inventions. Currently, there are 100 plus global chapters open in 40 countries around the world. Around 25% of the company’s sales revenue come from outside U.S. “Hardware is a huge, huge industry. It’s pervasive, it’s everywhere,” said Bdeir. “But so few people understand it and so few people are able to innovate. In manufacturing, we have seen barriers break down with 3D printing. In software, anybody can build an app and create billion dollar companies. Hardware has not been that case,” she added.
LittleBits hopes to become widely used in schools, where it says more than 8000 educators in 70 countries have introduced this kits to the students. Schools represent the major contributor of the revenue for the company.