San Francisco and Bengaluru-based gaming company Playshifu has raised $7 Mn in Series A funding. The round was led by Chiratae (formerly IDG Ventures India), Inventus Capital and Bharat Innovation Fund (BIF).
Existing investor IDFC-Parampara Fund also participated. With this round, the total funding raised by Playshifu is $8.5 Mn.
The company plans to use the funds to invest further towards tech innovation, research on unique phygital interactions and new product developments. The company also plans to update current products significantly and expand the diverse retail presence from 15 countries to over 30 countries in 2020 and beyond.
Founded in 2016 by Dinesh Advani and Vivek Goyal, Playshifu creates AR experiences as educational toys. The company’s flagship product Shifu Orboot, is an AR-based globe that promises an adventure around the world.
The company claims that it is used by over 250K kids across the globe. It further claims that the amount of time spent on the app has resulted in an impressive frequency of play, and month-after-month retention equal to 4-5 times that of kids-app category benchmarks.
“PlayShifu is targeting the multi-billion dollar augmented reality industry with its unique proposition of an enriching learning environment for kids coupled with fun. Vivek and Dinesh, along with their team, have built a solid product roadmap to capture a significant market share in this segment in the US and European regions,” said Karthik Prabhakar, executive director at Chiratae.
Today, more than 65% of these schools use Orboot every week in their classes. The company is now closer to launching Orboot 2.0, which has student profiles and progress tracking, teachers’ portal, detailed lesson plans. It further claims that the engagement will increase in schools by 10x this year.
Dinesh Advani, cofounder, and COO, said, “We now have the tools at our disposal to execute against an even more impactful retail strategy and presence, while we continue to strengthen our position as the segment leader and disruptor in the early learning space.”
It also claims to have a deep-rooted retail presence in key markets and countries around the world, including the US, Canada, UK, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Hong Kong, South Africa, Middle East, and Japan.
“We strongly believe in the capability of Indian entrepreneurs to develop highly innovative products and solutions for the global market, and PlayShifu fits squarely. With their expertise in computer vision, AR technology stack, game and toy design, and storytelling, the PlayShifu team has orchestrated a magical experience through phygital smart-toys for the vast ‘early learning’ market, quickly making inroads in US, Europe, India, and Japan,” said Som Pal Choudhury, partner at Bharat Innovation Fund.
According to a report, the educational robot market is valued at $778.6 Mn in 2018 and is expected to reach $1,689.2 Mn by 2023, at a CAGR of 16.8% between 2018 and 2023.
The toys market in India is worth $3 Bn, with less than 5% in the organised segment. However, bringing the use of technologies such as AI, robotics etc, Playshifu competes with the likes of Emotix, which offers an AI-enabled robot for kids.