Black Educator Raises $1.6M For Kid-Friendly VR Education Startup
Edtech startup Kai XR has raised $1.6 million in seed funding to expand its virtual reality (VR) educational resources to one million kids across the US.
Kapor Capital led the oversubscribed round, which included Mitchell Kapor Foundation, American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, and others.
The Oakland-based edtech startup is making education more accessible through inclusive mixed-reality spaces that allow children to explore, create, and learn.
From education to innovation
Kai Frazier founded Kai XR in 2018. Through her time as an educator in the classroom and in museums, Frazier realized that museums and educational field trips were inaccessible to many children.
“I would love to have taken my students to museums, but we couldn’t afford the charter buses to transport them,” she said in an interview with Nasdaq.
Aware of the immense value of these educational experiences, Frazier decided to level the playing field.
“I wanted to bring a tool to market that would actually close the digital divide, not further it. It was very important to me to be mobile first—kids can use a smartphone to pick their field trip or pick their experience they want to build, and they are instantly immersed in whatever reality they’d like to see.”
Kai XR’s VR programs expose students to quality education, learning about new ideas, careers, and cultural events, while developing critical digital skills.
The startup has also partnered with companies such as Meta, Cox Communications, and T-Mobile to optimize its 4G and 5G capabilities and reduce reliance on WiFi.
Frazier is an unlikely tech entrepreneur.
She’s a Black woman, who, as a 17-year-old, suddenly became homeless and struggled to meet her basic needs.
“My teachers played a really big role in making sure that I had what I needed. So I became a teacher myself, not surprisingly working with the same at-risk students,” she said in her Nasdaq interview.
As a history teacher with no business background, venturing into edtech was no easy feat.
“The odds have been stacked against me at every turn,” she told Nasdaq. “I entered this field knowing that I am different and I would have to turn my differences into strengths.”
“Her passion for serving kids of color from under-resourced schools was evident,” said Freada Kapor Klein, founding Partner at Kapor Capital.
“She brought her lived experience as a teacher and museum educator together with her considerable entrepreneurial strengths and compassion to build Kai XR to introduce young people to the vast array of worlds out there—from visiting the Obamas portraits at the National Gallery to deep space exploration.”
21st century education
“This is the first time we have seen real change in education as it relates to virtual learning,” Kai Frazier, the founder and CEO at Kai XR, told The Plug.
“We’re also seeing a growing appetite to use our technology from the teachers, increased funding support from schools, as well as a big push on connectivity — it’s a very exciting time for us.”
The Techstars-backed startup reported a 500% increase in sales last year, with revenues surpassing $500,000 in 2022.
The startup aims to close a $2 million additional funding round this year.