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Labster lands new cash to bring its virtual reality science lab software to Asia

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You could Zoom call into your science class, or you could conduct a lab experiment in virtual reality. During the coronavirus pandemic, the latter has never felt more full of potential.

The global need for learning solutions beyond Zoom is precisely why Labster, a Copenhagen-based startup that helps individuals engage in STEM lab scenarios using virtual reality, is growing rapidly. Since March, the usage of Labster’s VR product has increased 15X.

On the heels of this unprecedented momentum, Labster joins a chorus of edtech startups raising right now, and announced it has brought on $9 million in equity venture funding. The round was led by GGV, with participation from existing investors Owl Ventures, Balderton and Northzone.

“COVID-19 has been a great awareness builder of Labster, opening teachers’ eyes to the good sides of online learning as opposed to Zoom-only learning, which is largely failing,” CEO and co-founder Michael Jensen told TechCrunch.

Labster sells its e-learning solution to support and enhance in-person courses. Based on the subscription an institution chooses, participants can get differing degrees of access to a virtual laboratory. Imagine a range of experiments, from understanding bacterial growth and isolation to exploring the biodiversity of an exoplanet. Along with each simulation, Labster offers 3D animations for certain concepts, re-plays of simulations, quiz questions and a virtual learning assistant.

Photo credit: Labster.

While the majority of Labster’s customers are private institutions, the company landed a deal with all of California’s community colleges during the pandemic. The partnership added 2.1 million students to Labster’s customer base, which Jensen said has been bolstered by a broader growth in annual license deals and partnerships.

With GGV on board, Labster is looking to strengthen position in Asia. Breaking into new markets often requires a strategic investor with eyes on the ground on how that market works, thinks and, most importantly, learns. Asian markets are specifically lucrative for edtech companies because consumer spend is higher compared to the North American market.

Jenny Lee, a Shanghai-based partner with GGV, will take a board seat at Labster.

Lee has expressed interest in how automation, virtual and AI-based teachers can help bridge the gap between K-12 markets and lack of good-quality teachers everywhere.

Jensen said that the capital will also be used to bolster the company’s mobile offering, since Asian markets have high mobile usage compared to North American and European markets.

The round is significantly smaller than Labster’s previous $21 million Series B, closed in April of 2019. And it contrasts sharply to the momentum that has benefited edtech companies like MasterClass, Coursera and, reportedly, Udemy into raising nine-figure rounds.

So naturally, I asked Jensen: why the conservative raise?

Jensen says that the $9 million check was a strategic growth check to bring on GGV (all existing investors in Labster also participated in the round). Since being founded in 2012, the company has been relatively conservative in raising cash. To date, inclusive of this round, Labster has raised $40 million in venture capital.

He argues the new money, thus, is offensive capital instead of defensive capital. It’s a strategic check to open a global door.

This isn’t the first time an edtech company has raised a smaller round than expected during the coronavirus pandemic. In April, edtech unicorn Duolingo raised a short $10 million to expand into Asia and bring on General Atlantic as an investor to expand into global markets.

Duolingo, however, is cash-flow positive. Jensen did not comment on if Labster has turned a profit, but adds that it was a “significant up round” that brought the company’s valuation to above $100 million.

“Our primary objectives continue to be rapid growth and global impact, not profits,” he told TechCrunch.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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