Editor’s note: KCRise Fund is a financial supporter of Startland News. This report was produced independently of that relationship.
TULSA — As schools across the country navigate in-person and remote learning models, Boddle Learning, a math gaming platform that was founded in Kansas City continues to grow, raising another round of more than $1 million and delivering its edtech solution to more than 450,000 students.
Boddle’s married co-founders, Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan, immigrated from Ghana and Singapore respectively and relocated their business from Kansas City to Tulsa. Their gaming platform has landed in 27,000 classrooms across all 50 states and raised more than $2 million since its inception in 2018.
The round announced Wednesday was led by Atento Capital and includes Kansas City’s own KCRise Fund, as well as Lightship Capital, Cortado Ventures, Pharrell’s Black Ambition, and others.
“It’s never been more important to help students learn, both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Edna Martinson, co-founder of Boddle. “This latest round of support will help Boddle connect with more teachers, parents, and students, accelerate the development of both gameplay and classroom features, and expand access — especially in under-served communities.”
Boddle was named one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2020. The company moved to Tulsa later that year before hitting an accelerated pace with the help of Atento.
In late summer 2021, Boddle announced it had earned $100,000 in non-dilutive funding from Google for Startups Black Founders Fund and was selected to receive $70,000 through the Oklahoma-based ACT Tulsa accelerator.
As part of its growth and momentum, Boddle is expanding it’s team and has brought on a well-known Kansas City serial entrepreneur, Hugh Khan, who has a passion and expertise for building great teams to help lead development, fuel growth, and help take the company to the next level, Martinson said.
“What gives Boddle the X factor is its founders’ unwavering belief that growing to a global scale cannot be accomplished without the utmost commitment to simultaneously building an amazing organization,” Khan said. “Building great companies starts with attracting great people. And recruiting is made a lot easier if the mission is as important as educating the future generations… instead of trying to find good people, they come seeking you! I’m very excited to join Boddle because of our shared vision for how to grow Boddle.”
Boddle’s gamified education platform uses 3D games and adaptive learning technology to offer personalized math experiences for K-6 students. The games are designed similar to games kids play outside the classroom and allows students to customize their own characters, play bonus games, and earn rewards while going through learning content. In addition, the platform uses AI to evaluate students’ comprehension, adapting content to make it appropriate for each student’s skill level.
“COVID-19 has turned the world of education upside down, rapidly accelerating digital tools as teachers and students straddle in-person and remote learning models,” said Michael Basch, managing partner at Atento Capital. “Boddle’s husband-and-wife team brings an unstoppable equation to this landscape. With a video game background and creative marketing prowess,
they have developed a unique gamified learning tool that’s already helping students, and one that Atento is thrilled to back.”
Boddle integrates with popular classroom tools like Google Classroom and Clever to make onboarding and rostering easier, and includes a portal that provides valuable feedback to teachers — such as a Learning Gaps Report that identifies skills that need extra instruction. The support from Google comes at a critical time as Boddle looks to integrate more with Google tools that help facilitate learning.
“KCRise Fund is proud to back such ambitious and mission-driven founders in Edna and Clarence,” said Ed Frindt, partner at KCRise Fund. “We are excited to join an impressive investor syndicate, and we feel that innovations in early childhood learning are where venture investments can create immense change and lasting impact.”
In an analysis by non-profit LEANLAB Education, a Kansas City organization committed to research and launching transformational innovations into K12 schools, 7 out of 9 teachers reported that Boddle was a helpful tool when students were at home because it made it easy to assign tasks and gave students an easy way to practice.
A recent McKinsey report looking at the effects of the pandemic on education cited math as one of the subjects students struggled with the most because of interrupted learning.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.