It’s a match made in consumer robotics heaven: Miko, a global leader in AI robots for kids, has acquired a majority stake in Square Off, a startup known for AI-driven automated board games.
Miko has acquired 70 percent of Square Off, giving complete exit to existing investors. With the acquisition, Miko will expand its product line beyond the AI robot companions that put it on the map. Miko’s eponymous kids robots use AI to deliver playful learning experiences for children ages 5 and older.
The move is a natural fit for two companies that share a passion for robotics and learning, says Sneh Vaswani, Miko co-founder and CEO. Kids who actively use Miko 3, the company’s bestselling robot, increase their speaking proficiency, engagement with academic activities and physical activity by more than 45% on average. Square Off’s interactive boards, which build cognitive skills via games such as chess, use robotics and AI to adapt to the player’s level of expertise.
Miko robots and Square Off smart board games will soon communicate, with Miko robots taking on the role of instructors that teach children to play chess and other board games, Vaswani says.
“AI is the future of play, and Square Off’s innovation has transformed how players young and old interact with chess and other board games,” Vaswani says. “We’re excited to help Square Off continue accelerating its growth.”
The startup’s leadership will stay on board, continuing to work toward their vision of bringing robotics and AI-powered smart toys to 10 million homes globally. Miko will support the startup through that journey.
“We’re thrilled to join forces with Miko on this journey to revolutionize edutainment for kids,” says Square Off Co-Founder and CEO Bhavya Gohil. Atur Mehta, the startup’s co-founder and CTO, says the move will “bring new levels of innovation, design and interaction to the space.”
The acquisition is the latest in a string of bold strategic moves from Miko. This spring, the company announced a partnership with Paramount Consumer Products. In August, Miko 3 became the first kids robot to launch an official Disney app. Miko was the only Asian startup to participate in the 2021 Disney Accelerator.
“This is a well-planned strategic move from Miko, where on one hand the software ecosystem is expanded through Miko Max platform offerings and on the other hand an ecosystem of IoT connected products is built around the child through these initiatives,” says Keshav R. Murugesh, seasoned technology evangelist and one of the earliest backers of Miko.
Beyond a passion for robotics and learning, Miko and Square Off share other commonalities. Both companies launched their first consumer robotics product in 2017, have developed multiple iterations since and have teams located both in Mumbai and Silicon Valley. The companies both experienced considerable growth during the pandemic, as more families sought out interactive learning experiences for their children.