Posted on June 7, 2018 by staff

Start-up goes from Kickstarter to Cartoon Network


Kids media company Bright Little Labs has received significant investment from Turner International, the owner of American cable channel Cartoon Network.

The UK-based start-up is behind Detective Dot, a series of books on a mission to inspire the next generation of coders.

Bright Little Labs becomes the first DV&I investment in the ‘edutainment’ space for the global media company and Christopher Sodergren VP Digital Ventures, DV&I for Turner will also take a seat on BLL’s board of directors.

The investment will be used to hire a range of staff for the growing London team, including new technical and operational roles.

Turner International will enhance Bright Little Labs’ current offering using its expertise to develop quality products which deliver on the start-up’s vision to engage, entertain and educate children about critical thinking, computer science and coding.

Dot, the series’ lead character, is a nine-year-old coder and agent of the Children’s Intelligence Agency, a hi-tech network of young agents who solve international mysteries.

The company believes wholeheartedly in the power of stories to make this fundamental subject accessible to all kids, everywhere.

“Partnering with relevant start-ups is a core part of our strategy to compete and lead in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape,” said Turner’s executive VP of digital ventures & innovation Aksel van der Wal.

“We saw in Bright Little Labs the opportunity to expand a great concept into an international multi-platform direct-to-consumer offering, in a way that fully embraces and utilises our expertise in kids, speaks to our desire to create new fan-centric experiences and aligns us with a like-minded partner.

“It also serves as a great platform for our ambitions to do more in the kids D2C space.”

Bright Little Labs was founded by Sophie Deen in 2015. The company launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016 for its first product, Detective Dot, to make computer science more accessible to kids, parents and teachers alike.

It has since become an award-winning STEM product and is backed by Cabinet Office-endorsed tech-for-good accelerator Bethnal Green Ventures and angel investors.

“We’re beyond excited to be partnering with Turner in the next phase of our journey,” said Deen.

“In a world of post-truth, job-automation and internet-enabled teddy bears that could be snooping on you, digital literacy and critical thinking are key.

“It’s imperative that all children, regardless of their background, have access to these 21st century skills and we’ve seen first-hand that a hi-tech spy agency with empowering role models like Detective Dot is a great way to achieve this.

“Not only does Turner share our vision, working with Turner means we can leverage their expertise in creating the very best kids content and reach new audiences globally.”

Through Detective Dot’s story Bright Little Labs’ aims to achieve two key objectives – primarily to push the boundaries of traditional media with better role models.

Detective Dot and her global network of CIA agents challenge the traditional gender and racial stereotypes that we often see in mainstream media today.

Secondly, the company uses storytelling to teach coding and critical thinking. This lo-fi, narrative-led approach to digital literacy is designed to engage a much wider audience.