Kano plans to make assembling an inbound licensing program look as easy as building one of its DIY coding kits for kids. The British company is in serious talks with third-party IP owners around adding licenses to its Kano Computer Kits, which launched in 2013.
The first kit included a keyboard, wires and a Raspberry Pi CPU that connected to an external monitor. Kids use a simple storybook to snap the pieces together to create a small computer system. Once the PC is up and running, kids can build on their coding skills to extend the system’s functions. Subsequent kits have included a screen, a DIY camera, a speaker and a pixel board.
“What makes Kano an exciting proposition for partners—and also for our audience—is that it’s a computer,” says Kano CEO and founder Alex Klein. “It’s a real, powerful PC that you build yourself. It can run apps, games and music, and browse the internet. And not only that, all of those services are easily modified by kids following really easy steps that feel like a game.”
The first 200 units were sold by word of mouth, and last year the line launched at mass retail with partners including Toys “R” Us and Barnes & Noble. The kits are also available for purchase online and have shipped to more than 86 countries worldwide.
Licensing is the logical next step. In addition to packaging cross-overs, there is potential for deep integration with software inspired by or licensed from partners.
“We’re just starting to develop a content pricing/subscription strategy,” Klein says. “In the future, we think this would work extremely well with partner content.” He envisions, for example, a challenge pack from Kano and a partner that provides kids with weekly downloadable quests that appear on their screens.
“There’s something quite powerful from the perspective of the licensor in the confidence and confirmation that the consumer is going to have a connected device in the house that is continually drawing down assets from that licensor’s brand,” contends Klein. “It’s not just a one-and-done experience; it’s a multi-week one, if not more.”
He says the company is looking for partners from all avenues, including entertainment and design, rather than focusing solely on science
“The goal would definitely be to have branded physical products, and if not that, co-branded coding content out there in 2017. There’s a huge hunger already for what we’re doing, and I think when you add in recognized stories and characters, it’s a huge opportunity for both sides.”