Innovation Birmingham Campus-based Learning Labs Ltd has agreed a distribution deal with stationery store Staples to stock its foreign language FlashSticks® products in all 112 UK stores. Online retailer Amazon and all 500 WHSmiths stores also stock FlashSticks®, which incorporate 3M’s globally recognised post-it note® technology.
A new start-up business, Learning Labs Ltd received £300,000 private equity finance in mid-2013 from Midven, Minerva and Finance Birmingham, alongside grant funding from The Birmingham Post Growth Fund. The funding has been used to develop its FlashSticks® foreign language vocabulary booster product 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.
In the past six months, orders have been placed for over 50,000 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: “FlashSticks® is now being widely used across the country by adults and children wanting to learn a new foreign language. We’ve been overwhelmed by its popularity and our team is currently developing a full range of product extensions to add to the existing range.
“As well as adding Staples to our list of national stockists, we’re also hearing about more and more teachers who are introducing Flashsticks® into classrooms. Given we only produced the first batch earlier this year, the feedback we’ve received from customers, product buyers and funding partners has completely exceeded all our expectations.“
The idea for FlashSticks® came from Learning Labs’ Director 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. After establishing how the concept would work best, it took a year to develop the product range – alongside Learning Labs’ strategic manufacturing partner 3M – which enables Post-it notes® to be printed with different vocabulary boosting information.
Matt Green, Buyer, Staples said: “Staples is always seeking out new and innovative products for its customers and we feel that FlashSticks® offer a fun and exciting new way to help people of all ages learn a foreign language. At only £5.99, the FlashSticks® post-it notes® represent excellent value, especially when combined with the free pronunciation app. FlashSticks® for French, Spanish, Italian and German are now available in all 112 Staples stores nationwide and online at www.staples.co.uk.”
The FlashSticks® brand trademark has been registered and there is a UK Patent pending. The product is available to buy on Amazon, in all Staples and WHSmith stores and online at www.flash-sticks.com.