Tencent Holdings has led a US$41 million series C round of funding for US educational robot company Wonder Workshop.
The Chinese internet giant joins several other Asian companies who have invested in the education and robotics startup – China’s TAL Education Group, Softbank Korea, TCL Capital, Sinovation Ventures, VTRON Group, Madrona Venture Group, Bright Success, WI Harper and CRV.
Many of those investors are well placed to help the five-year-old startup expand in Asia. With its latest investment, Wonder Workshop’s products could soon get a boost in sales as Tencent is a major shareholder of online retailer JD.com.
Wonder Workshop also sees the need to empower teachers to provide STEM (Science Technology Education and Mathematics) by helping to train educators to use its robots in the classroom.
According to Brian Yang, head of Asia Pacific at Wonder Workshop, parents and schools in Asia are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of STEM education.
With that in mind, it is no surprise that the company plans to use some of the new cash from its latest round of funding, to expand its workforce in the region.
The company works with about one in five junior schools in the US but also has a firm footing in Hong Kong, where its products can be found in 150 primary and secondary schools and it is working with Hong Kong investor MindWorks Ventures and education publishing company Classroom to increase its reach in the city.
Wonder Workshop makes a line of “CleverBots” – programmable robot toys that help students learn coding and robotics, aiming at a growing trend among schools to incorporate (STEM) education into curriculums.
Their US$150 Dash robot is among the bestselling toys in its category on Amazon’s online marketplace.
It also makes the Cue robot for children over the age of 11, as well as Dot, a stand-alone robot that can also serve as a companion for either Dash or Cue.