Meet E-liza Dolls, the startup that builds dolls to help young girls learn to code • businesskinda.com

E-liza dolls, a Berkeley-based startup, aims to challenge the gender gap in STEM by helping young girls learn to code with dolls. The company, which exhibited as part of the Battlefield 200 at businesskinda.com Disrupt, builds dolls with programmable computers that girls can code through an app.

The startup was founded in 2021 by Eliza Kosoy, a Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley, who focuses on the intersection of child development and artificial intelligence. Kosoy originally came up with the idea for the dolls in 2017 when she was working at MIT in an AI lab made up mostly of men. Kosoy says she realized that if only a certain group of people designed the future of AI and technology, it would only benefit that group, and then she came up with the idea of ​​coming up with a way for young girls to learn. encode.

Kosoy wanted to find a way for girls to learn programming without giving up their interests. So she decided to combine dolls and technology. Regardless of what people may think about sex toys, the purpose of E-liza dolls is to help girls feel confident when it comes to exploring STEM by giving them a product designed just for them.

The market is filled with toys designed and marketed for and by men. Of course, girls can play with these toys too, but some of them may prefer to play with something designed for them.

“We want to expose young girls to technological concepts and encourage creative thinking through hardware and software, to avoid girls being influenced by generational stereotypes,” Kosoy told businesskinda.com. “Parents have so few options; they feel like they have to force their daughters to play with STEM products designed for boys to get their daughters on a STEM path. We believe that little girls don’t have to sacrifice their interests to play with STEM educational toys.”

E-liza Dolls is currently in talks with manufacturers and plans to launch on Kickstarter in early 2023. Kosoy says the team is one prototype away from Kickstarter’s launch as the startup plans to add a few iterations to the dolls and improve their design features. After its initial Kickstarter launch, the company plans to officially release the product in mid-2023.

The 18-inch dolls work through a piece of hardware embedded in each doll. The device has a screen and is Bluetooth enabled to receive code via the doll’s companion app. Girls can connect different sensors or use the built-in sensors to code the doll to do different things like build a security alarm for your room using a distance sensor or create a truth detector using a heart rate sensor.

Since its launch, E-liza Dolls has received $100,000 in funding from AIX Ventures. The company is currently raising a pre-seed round consisting of funding from several angel investors, including poet Rupi Kaur.