Startup Mindshapes, founded in 2010 and based in London, New York and San Francisco, today announced a new $4 million round of investment led by Index Ventures and including Richmond Park Partners and pervious investors. The company provides interactive learning solutions, and launched its Magic Town product aimed at young children on May 16. Now, with a fresh injection of funding, the company hopes to target different age groups with a new language learning product aimed at young adults, and Mindshapes co-founder and CEO David Begg shared that additional demographics are next in line for the company’s educational efforts.
After Magic Town, which is aimed at kids aged 2-6 and features licensed stories, art and characters from popular children’s series like Elmer and Winnie the Witch, the company intends to bring its next product, Language City, online this summer. Language City London, the first in the series, is designed to help its target audience of 16-30 year olds around the world pick up additional skills in conversational English.
“From the beginning, Mindshapes set out to explore how gameplay techniques could change the way that both children and adults learn,” Begg said. “Our first two major products have explored two key areas of learning: pre-school development and language learning. We are already looking at other areas of learning and our products will hopefully continue to be game changing in their fields.”
While Magic Town is designed as a sort of virtual world for kids to come together and learn with the characters they already know and recognize from their storybooks, Language City is meant to appeal to the casual social gaming crowd to help make online skill learning more of an interactive, rewards-based experience. As it has yet to launch, Begg couldn’t go into specifics, but he did describe the concept behind the product in broad strokes.
“Language City has been designed to appeal very much to the social and casual gaming demographic with the games’ style, storyline, activities and mechanics,” he said.” In our first release we will not have integrated many social mechanics, but we have plans to make Language City deeply social both inside and outside the game, from integration into the social networks to collaborative game play.
Mindshapes has an ambitious goal, and its attempts to reach multiple audiences across demographics could put a strain on its resources when compared to pure-play educational kid-focused competitors like Fingerprint and YogiPlay, but its focus on exploring the possibilities of interactive education in any area could help it be an early innovator in this category. Once Language City launches, it’ll be interesting to see how it stacks up against big players like Rosetta Stone and the upcoming Babble Planet, which is aimed at a younger demographic but also seems to incorporate similar gaming mechanics.