Digital Dream Labs get significant new investments from iNetworks, 99 Tartans, paves the way for future rounds
Pittsburgh firm’s toy robots Cozmo, Vector, and Overdrive, are driving growth plans
PITTSBURGH —April 13, 2022: Digital Dream Labs – and its army of cute tiny robots – are on a roll.
The Pittsburgh-based robotics & ed-tech company just received significant support and funding from iNetworks, a private equity firm and from 99 Tartans, which supports companies coming out of the high-tech hotbed of Carnegie Mellon University.
In 2019, Pittsburgh-based ed-tech company Digital Dream Labs acquired the assets of Anki, including their line of cute, tiny super-intelligent AI-powered robots, Cozmo and Vector. Though only about the size of a hamster -- with expressive eyes that convey a surprising array of emotions -- they represent some of the world’s most advanced consumer robotics capabilities. Anki had $100 million in revenue in 2018 and sought a billion-dollar IPO.
“Anki went out of business, so I saw this opportunity to get the beloved robot Cozmo, which has sold more than a million and a half units,” says Jacob Hanchar, CEO of Digital Dream Labs. “The products themselves reach people’s emotions and communicate on such a peer-level, in ways that no other robot has been able to do.”
“Anki had great technology,” says 99 Tartans investor Bruce Gebhardt, a partner in New York’s Pathfinder Capital Advisors. “They spent much money on the development, but they had other issues.”
“Digital Dream Labs has the right team in place to bring these robots back in a big way,” says Gebhardt.
“They’re very tenacious,” says Gebhardt. “You have to be a weird combination of tenacious but not too stubborn. You want people willing to run through walls but not so inflexible that they can’t go around walls when needed.”
99 Tartans’ involvement was a natural fit, says Dave Mawhinney, Executive Director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at CMU.
“It builds on the strong capabilities of Carnegie Mellon in artificial intelligence, robotics, and next-generation learning, digital learning,” he says. “They embody the benefits of all of those technologies, making them simple and easy to use, and bringing them to life and for folks interested in learning and developing robotics skills.”
A Kickstarter campaign to restart Vector exceeded its goal in a single day.
Anyone will be able to program them to do anything they want.
“There are 200,000 Vector users who can contribute to his development,” says Hanchar. “This is a revolutionary concept. We are crowdsourcing robotics.”
About Digital Dream Labs
With 3+ million customers, Digital Dream Labs (DDL) is an award-winning entertainment company that develops engaging learning solutions and consumer robots for people of all ages -- transforming the way science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) topics are taught, pre-K to adult -- around the world. Makers of Cozmo, Vector, InfiniDrive, and Puzzlets, DDL is on a mission to produce Robots that make life easier and better regardless of who you are or where you are at in life. For more information, visit digitaldreamlabs.com.
Released April 13, 2022