As it moves away from DIY computer kits, Kano develops its creative software suite as a standalone business

Kano Computing (“Kano”), the venture capital firm best known for its DIY computer kits and software to teach kids coding and STEM skills, is launching its creative software suite and online community platform in as an independent business.

The change comes as the British company shifts its focus from its build-your-own-PC roots to cost-effectiveness and long-term sustainability.

Founded in London in 2013, Kano has over the years brought to market a number of products designed to teach the basics of computing to children. This includes its flagship Raspberry Pi-based modular PCs, as well as accessories like the Harry Potter Coding Kit containing a physical magic wand that works on most platforms.

Kano’s Harry Potter Wand image credits: Kano Computing

kano pink nearly $45 million in funding over the years from notable sponsors including Microsoft which worked with Kano developing a Windows PC in 2019, which is a remarkable start from its Raspberry Pi roots. However, the company has apparently struggled in recent years, scrapping plans to market Disney-branded merchandise and announcing a series of layoffs as part of a “restructuring effort.”

At the end of the most recent financial year, Kano reported a pre-tax loss of £10.1m ($12m) – an improvement on the company’s £16.8m loss. previous year, but still a loss. And while it’s still possible to buy some of its older products through Amazon, it’s clear that Kano is moving away from the products it became known for, towards a suite of “Stem”-branded consumer devices that cover audio and video.

STEM sells

A Just over a year ago, Kano teamed up with Kanye West to launch the Stem Player, a music device that allows users to isolate and remix individual elements of songs.

But with West showing his anti-Semitic colors on more than one occasion, Kano revealed in November that he was cutting ties with the rapper, although he continues to sell the Stem Player. without West’s involvement. And earlier this week, Kano unveiled the Stem projector, while showing off plans for all sorts of new products, from food to clothing.

With Kano taking a new direction, it left a core part of his business in limbo. Kano World has practically been an integral part of Kano’s offering since its inception. With an online account, users can create games, animations, and artwork, share them with the Kano community, remix other users’ work, participate in challenges, and more.

The platform was designed to bring fun and utility to your self-built computer kits, although it can be used independently of Kano’s hardware.

Kano World Code Challenge image credits: The world of Kano

go alone

Going forward, Kano World will become a stand-alone business entity led by CEO Ollie Dotsch, who was previously responsible for sales and training at Kano Computing.

Dotsch began her new role in August, once Kano World was officially incorporated. According to a UK Companies House document, Kano World has three major shareholders, including Kano co-founder and CEO Alex Klein, who owns a plurality of shares, Dotsch itself and Kano Computing.

In a Q&A with TechCrunch, Dotsch explained that after leading sales of Kano’s Windows PCs through their eventual sale in early 2022, he pitched the idea of ​​expanding Kano World with CEO Klein and the company’s board of directors, aware of the fact. that Kano was changing direction.

“Kano Computing is now working to grow the Stem business,” Dotsch said. “Stem’s focus would have left Kano World with little to no budget, resources or focus to make it the product and the company we believe it can and will be. Now, alone, we can raise funds, build a team, and dedicate ourselves to the success of our vision of empowering the creative genius of all young people to create, not just consume.

Ollie Dotsch, CEO of Kano World image credits: The world of Kano

For now, Kano World is a team of just three and is fully funded by its three major shareholders, with plans underway to seek new funding “in the coming months”. And in addition to its shareholding, Kano Computing will also serve as a sort of short-term incubator, servicing the offices of its East London headquarters.

“Extracting Kano World from Kano Computing is complex and will take time, but we have already started gradually, and when finished, we will leave both companies stronger than before,” Dotsch said.

If nothing else, Kano World strives to retain at least some of Kano’s original “maker and maker” ethos, albeit only focusing on the software side of things. Additionally, the fact that Kano chose to give Kano World a chance to thrive on its own can be seen as a positive step, whereas it would have been easier to let it die slowly inside Kano or to close it completely.

“In this environment, it made more sense for Kano World to grow outside of Kano Computing rather than in[side]Kano Computing co-founder and CEO Alex Klein said in a statement. “Kano World has had many exciting iterations over the years, even catching the attention of Mark Zuckerberg, who shared a message using the platform with his children. This spin-off is the next logical step to deliver new and joyful creative experiences to young people around the world.

As before, Kano World is offering two of its three creative tools – Kano Code and Make Art – for free, including access to some of the beginner challenges. Those who sign up for a premium subscription, which costs $10 per month or $100 per year, can access Pixel Motion and a wider range of challenges.

Without giving too much away, Dotsch said it is actively working to build the social community side of the platform and its creative software suite, with premium users able to access new products first.

The new Kano World company aims to double its workforce to around six people by the end of February, according to Dotsch, with subsequent hires planned in software development and creation.

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