Robot for kids named best European startup

Education has been an area of interest for robotics investors. Will this be the company to break out?
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

A Polish company you've never heard of, was just dubbed most promising startup in Central and Eastern European by the European Business Angels Network (EBAN).

Photon Entertainment makes a small wheeled robot that teaches young children to code.

The company's flagship product, Photon, has been available for less than a year but has demonstrated promising sales in traditional retail environments in Poland and a few other select countries.

There are a number of robotics companies vying for space in the lucrative ed tech market. STEAM eduction is increasingly emphasized in budgets, and many schools now offer coding instruction as part of the standard curricula as early as kindergarten.

In some Chinese schools, students begin as early as preschool.

Parents, meanwhile, fearful their children may fall behind, seem poised to buy toys that strike the right balance of educational, fun, and affordable.

Analysts predict the educational robotics market will be worth $1.7 billion by 2023.

Like kid-aimed robots from companies like Cubetto, SAM Labs, and Wonder Workshop, Photon is positioned as an intuitive toy that teaches the principles of coding and logical thinking to kids from 5 to 12 years old.

"When we pull the robot out of the box ... it can not do anything at all," according to the company. "Children must help him learn everything from scratch -- how he moves, what colors he has, and how he interacts with the environment using various sensors."

Photon has exclusively been sold in Poland, Sweden, Singapore, and Australia at stories licensed to sell Apple products, according to Business Insider.

Investors and developers will likely be paying close attention to that retail strategy. Many ed tech companies choose instead to market to school districts or sell direct-to-customer. With an increasing number of entrants in the category, traditional retailers may provide a degree of trust for tech savvy consumers.

Photon plans to expand aggressively and in European and North American markets in the quarters ahead.

EBAN, which bestowed the honor, is an international, nonprofit representing the early stage investor community in Europe. The announcement came as part of the group's Annual Congress.

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