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Maker startup inspires inventors through Minecraft in the Classroom

Startup in maker education endorsed by Steve Wozniak secures $2.1M seed round to expand product offering to educators and students across the world

Piper, a startup that empowers budding inventors with its DIY computer kit for kids, announced $2.1 million in seed funding. The investment arrives as the company looks to expand its product offering to allow educators and students to learn about, and build creatively with technology, code and electronics.

The additional financing comes from a group of mission-driven investors including Princeton University, Reach Capital, 500 Startups, FoundersXFund, Jaan Tallinn (co-founder of Skype), and Jay Silver (founder of Makey Makey).

The newly secured funding will assist with the creation and distribution of PiperEDU, a new product for K-12 educators that will allow Piper’s products, powered by the latest Raspberry Pi 3, to be seamlessly integrated into classrooms all over the world. With PiperEDU, students will learn programming, engineering and electronics as they assemble their own computers and build gadgets to solve Minecraft challenges.

“We believe we can redefine how students in classrooms build and create with technology and are excited to launch PiperEDU for schools across America to make this happen,” said Mark Pavlyukovskyy, co-founder of Piper. “Piper takes a unique hands-on approach to STEM education by combining the world’s most popular video game with hands-on engineering and tinkering, making the product appealing to both kids and educators.”

“Thousands of kids are already playing and building with Piper all over the world and to make the product more accessible to more students, we are introducing Piper to schools. Dozens of schools all over the world have beta-tested the product and we are excited to bring it to schools everywhere,” added Piper co-founder Joel Sadler. The Piper computer kit is like a Trojan horse for learning – it combines a familiar video game with physical building. Ultimately we want to boost everyone’s creative confidence with technology, programming and engineering in a playful way.”

“Combining coding and Minecraft is genius”, said Dave McClure, founding partner of 500 Startups. “Great to see my kids turn into little nerds; maybe they can pay for my retirement some day.”

Elon Musk’s kids also play Piper and love the product. Steve Wozniak is another fan of Piper. Steve said: “I love Piper because it represents what enabled me to do all the great technology things in my life.”

“We are thrilled to have Piper as a company in Princeton’s Alumni Entrepreneurs Fund (AEF), which is one of the ways we support Princetonian entrepreneurs,” said Mayra Ceja, Entrepreneurial Program Manager, AEF.

The Piper Computer Kit comes with everything a 7-12 year old needs to assemble her own computer, including a Raspberry Pi 3 microcomputer, an HD LCD display, a powerbank, a speaker and a puzzle-like wooden case that she assemble to house her computer. Turning the computer on reveals the PiperCraft learning system that teaches kids engineering and programming through a combination of engaging storyline, physical building, and Minecraft gameplay. The core Piper experience seamlessly introduces engineering, electronics and programming, allowing kids to create and program their own electronic gadgets through a custom Minecraft story mode designed specifically for education.

PiperEDU provides four Piper computer kits, a Common Core and next generation science standards (NGSS) aligned online curriculum, and professional development tools for educators.

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