Innovation Birmingham Campus-based Learning Labs Ltd has secured £300,000 funding to roll-out its FlashSticks® product, which incorporates 3M’s globally recognised post-it note® technology. Private equity finance has been provided by Midven, Minerva and Finance Birmingham, alongside grant funding from The Birmingham Post Growth Fund.
Invented by Learning Labs, FlashSticks® is a foreign language vocabulary booster that immerses users with the words they are trying to learn. Uniquely printed, colour-coded post-it notes® contain a foreign word, translation, visual icon and phonetic to help with pronunciation. The product retails for £5.99, while a free app enables the user to ‘wave’ their smartphone or tablet over any FlashSticks® post-it note® to hear the precise pronunciation on a video clip.
Amazon, all 500 WHSmith stores across the UK, as well as a number of other leading high street retailers have already placed pre-orders for 45,000 packs of FlashSticks®. Negotiations are also in detailed stages with school buying groups to enable the product to be widely available for classroom learning and children’s’ homework.
Veejay Lingiah, CEO of Learning Labs said: “The initial reaction FlashSticks® has received from user groups, product buyers and funding partners has completely exceeded all our expectations.
“The idea came from my business partner, Richard Allen, who whilst on a business trip, started to use hand-written post-it notes® around his hotel room as a way to learn Spanish. Although the method was effective, he felt that pre-printed notes could make it so much easier – this was the eureka moment! Once we had established how the concept would work best, it took a year to develop the product range alongside our strategic manufacturing partner 3M. Together, we have enabled post-it notes® to be printed with different vocabulary boosting information.
“Prior to us securing the £300,000 funding, WHSmith undertook a trial earlier this year in 100 of their stores, which proved the concept. The results of the trial enabled us to secure the investment we needed to press ahead with mass production, and agree pre-orders for 45,000 packs of FlashSticks®. The next 12 months will be very exciting, especially as we roll-out further product lines and enter new markets.”
Learning Labs has developed FlashSticks® in German, French, Spanish and Italian across four study levels, ensuring the fun product is suitable for all ages and abilities. New product lines are already in the pipeline.
Neil Hopkin, Headteacher at Peters Hill Primary School in Dudley, West Midlands, where FlashSticks® have already been adopted into the classroom said: “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?’”
Veejay Lingiah, CEO of Learning Labs added: “Seeing children work with FlashSticks® in a classroom setting for the first time was a fantastic experience. We knew the product was suitable for all ages, but the excitement of seeing primary school children use the post-it notes® and app together was contageous.
“The potential of the education market was a big factor for us in locating the business at the Innovation Birmingham Campus. We wanted to be based somewhere highly credible that resonated with our partners and distributors. In addition, we’re now integrated in the tech community here.”
The FlashSticks® brand trademark has been registered and there is a UK Patent pending. The product is available to buy in all WHSmith high street stores and online at www.flash-sticks.com.