Lauren Goode

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LittleBits Secures $3.65M in Funding, Plans Product Expansion

LittleBits, which creates small hardware parts akin to electrically-charged Legos, has secured funding that will help the fledgling start-up meet demand and make new products.

The New York-based module-making company has raised $3.65 million in a Series A round led by True Ventures, with Khosla Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Lerer Ventures also contributing to the funding. LittleBits had previously received seed funding from Joi Ito, Nicholas Negroponte and Joann Wilson.

So what are littleBits, exactly? They’re magnetized, modular hardware parts that snap together to build things. Currently there are more than 50 available, categorized by power, input, output and wire. Bits include dimmers, buzzers, wires, buttons, LEDs and motion triggers. (For some interesting examples of what people dream up with littleBits, check out the company’s Web site. A littleBits coffeemaker, anyone?)

The littleBits are sold as both individual parts and as kits. The company’s flagship product, the 10-piece starter kit, sells for $89. There’s also a teaser kit, with just three bits, for $29.

Founder, engineer and MIT Media Lab alumna Ayah Bdeir says littleBits’s biggest customers to date have been parents and kids, and there’s a strong customer base in teachers and educators, as well.

“In the beginning, we expected it to be tinkerers and hobbyists,” Bdeir said in an interview, “and surprisingly, they make up a small portion of our user base.”

In the three weeks following last September’s launch, littleBits sold more than 3,000 kits. In February of this year, the company won the Popular Science “Best of Toy Fair” award, beating out bigger toy companies like the Lego Group and Mattel Inc. Since then, Bdeir says, demand has increased.

In addition to securing funding, littleBits has also established a partnership with global supply chain management company PCH International, which will take over production of littleBits in August of this year.

New products coming down the pipeline include at least 10 new modules, some built with new tech, like solar panel modules. The company also plans to offer a greater variety of kits, Bdeir said, at different price points and ranging in complexity, “to appeal to both the kindergartner and the architect.”


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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google