23 Jul 2013
A Birmingham-based company which has developed a foreign language learning product incorporating 3M’s Post-it Note® technology has won investment from venture capital specialists Midven.
Midven’s Early Advantage fund will help Learning Labs manufacture its full product range of FlashSticks®, as well as take the product to market and grow its existing team.
FlashSticks are patent pending packs of 200 uniquely printed Post-it® notes, each note containing a commonly used foreign word, translation, icon and phonetic. By simply sticking the post-it notes® up in convenient places, the learners and even their families can now learn their foreign vocabulary as they simply go about their daily routine.
Using colour coded notes, FlashSticks® provide a remarkably simple way to learn word gender – pink notes showing feminine words and blue notes showing masculine words.
A particularly novel feature of FlashSticks® is their Free App using the Aurasma ‘augmented reality’ platform. Using a smartphone or tablet, users can simply hover their device over any FlashStick note to view an instant pronunciation video for the word.
Learning Labs, based in Birmingham Science Park, say FlashSticks® is a passive learning tool and one that can be used by any age group alongside their other language learning material.
Veejay Lingiah, director of Learning Labs, explained that the company has established an important relationship with WHSmith, rolling out French, Spanish, Italian and German FlashSticks® into all 500 WHSmith high street stores. The product will also be available on Amazon and via www.flash-sticks.com, with each pack of 200 words selling for £5.99.
“The timing of the investment enables us to implement the next stage of our growth plans,” he said. “FlashSticks® has received a tremendous reaction from languageeducators and learners, as both an engaging and fun way to learn. Our challenge now is to make as many people as possible aware that this new method for learning foreign language vocabulary exists.”
“We have had particularly strong interest from Primary and Secondary Schools, given the high levels of engagement that FlashSticks® provide and the opportunity to extend learning beyond the classroom environment,” he added.
Neil Hopkin, Headteacher at Peters Hill Primary School, where they have already adopted FlashSticks® into the classroom commented: “FlashSticks are a brilliant new learning tool for educators, there simply isn’t anything else like it on the market. The children just intuitively get it, the simplicity of a post-it note® and the use of a tablet to bring that note to life. As with all of the new best education products you want something that is so simple that teachers ask ‘why haven’t we always done this?’”
Midven’s investment director Duncan Kerr said the company provided an attractive investment proposition, in particular through its pending patent for the new system and the strong relationship they had secured with global multi-national 3M, who developed the Post-it® Note technology.
“Globally, some 1.2billion people are currently learning a foreign language, which indicates a significant opportunity to market the product to consumers of all ages,” said Mr Kerr. “We have been very impressed with the progress Learning Labs has continued to make with partners, such as securing their significant presence in WH Smith stores.”