Kano, the computer you build and code yourself, launched the new version of its computer kit at the technology conference TechCrunch Disrupt. Now powered by the Raspberry Pi 2, the New Kano is six times faster, and loaded with games and projects that are learned, made, and played with code. Kano also introduced the Powerup Kit, an extension pack that turns the Raspberry Pi 1 into a programmable lightshow, and upgrades the Kano to six-fold speeds.
Driving the product extension is a new round of Series A funding, led by Breyer Capital, with participation from Collaborative Fund and Jim O’Neill, British economist and former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
Kano first hit the web during a Kickstarter campaign back in November 2013 and raised $1.5 million from 13,000 backers. Since then, the computer has been in the constantly spotlight.
Alex Klein, co-founder and chief product officer of Kano
“There are over 8 billion connected devices in the world, but only 50 million people know how to talk to them. It should be simple and fun for anyone, anywhere to make and play with technology – beyond the sealed screen. Code can be a creative art, and it starts with our new computer that anyone can make.”
Kano will raise up to $500,000 of its new round from its community through Quire, the equity crowd-funding platform out of Betaworks. Even after the round ends, Kano will use the Quire platform to engage with its community and investors by previewing new features, soliciting feedback, and sharing updates.
Kano plans to set aside a “Golden Share” amounting to 1% of the company’s undiluted equity for Kano Academy, its not-for-profit initiative for open, affordable making worldwide. The funding round will be used for extending the product platform; scaling the business in the United States, United Kingdom, and new markets; building out Kano’s brand and the Kano Academy; and continuing to grow its multinational team.
Yonatan Raz-Fridman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Kano, explained:
“We’re building a computer company to empower the rising billion, the next generation of creators. We are thrilled to welcome Jim Breyer who has invested and helped grow iconic companies like Dell, Facebook and Etsy, among others. Together with our passionate team and strong support network of investors and advisors, we are committed to Kano’s mission, and look forward to adding ambitious new team members and strong partners from all over the world to help.”
Jim Breyer, founder and chief executive officer of Breyer Capital, added:
“Kano is enabling and empowering the next generation of innovators with a truly delightful educational product that makes basic computing skills accessible for all. The global opportunity for Kano, and the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people around the world, is enormous. I am proud to support Kano at this exciting time in the company’s development.”
The New Kano has new creative projects. There’s Make Art, a digital easel to learn code by painting characters and fractals – it can be played through the web on any device – and Terminal Quest, a narrative adventure controlled with command-line Linux “spells.” Kano’s game-based coding arena, Kano Blocks, now comes with new code blocks and challenges to make water slides and wooden towers in Minecraft, to build sounds and graphics in Pong, and to program characters and backgrounds from the Moshi Monsters franchise.
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