Edutainment Startup Raises $5.7M as Pandemic Keeps Students Home

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Edutainment Startup Raises $5.7M as Pandemic Keeps Students Home

With children stuck in Zoom classes and parents becoming de facto teacher-assistants, education has taken center stage at home and made edtech companies like Encantos attractive to some investors.

The Los Angeles-based book publisher-turned-edutainment company started by two couples aghast by the dearth of bilingual books has closed a $5.7 million seed round. The fundraise, which far exceeded the $2.5 million Encantos had originally sought, brings the company's total fundraising to $8.5 million.

"I think people are really troubled by what's happened in education," chief executive Steven Wofle Pereira told dot.LA. He said that as parents have found it unsustainable to have a kid learn for eight hours a day on the computer, new approaches to education are increasingly in demand. The company, Wolfe Pereira said, has had "a phenomenal year of growth," although he didn't provide specifics.

Encantos bills itself as diversity-oriented entertainment, grounded in education and pedagogy focused on literacy, learning and life skills.

The company offers a combination of digital and physical products. For example, its app "Canticos," which roughly means songs in Spanish, aims to get young children Kindergarten-ready in two languages. It has complementary flashcards to provide "Montessori-style" reinforcement and also bilingual song books such as "Little Chickies / Los Pollitos."

As the pandemic exacerbates the economic divide, Wolfe Pereira said he's motivated to reach the families and children that are getting left behind in school.

"The gap is widening exponentially. It's very concerning – it impacts families and all of America," he said.

Wolfe Pereira said the new funds will help Encantos expand its subscription business – both for its digital app and an accompanying box of physical products. The company aims to eventually derive about 80% of its revenue from those subscriptions, with the remainder coming from content licensing and merchandise sales.

It also is beefing up its C-suite with two new executives as it prepares to double its staff of 15. Julie Fleischer, a former executive at WW, was named chief growth officer and Taylor Margis-Noguera, a serial entrepreneur, is now Encantos' chief operating officer.

The fundraising round was led by Precursor Ventures, with participation from Angeles Ventures, Concrete Rose Capital, Metrodora Ventures, Next Play Ventures, Portfolia's Rising America Fund and Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed fund.

Editor's note: dot.LA's founder Spencer Rascoff is also an investor in the round.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

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From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

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Image courtesy of Motional

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