Trip Hawkins’ If You Can Company raises $6.5 mln Series A

Trip Hawkins’ new startup, If You Can Company, said it raised a $6.5 million Series A round led by Greylock Partners and joined by Almaz Capital and other investors. The new money brings the total funding for the company, which will use gameplay to teach children social and emotional learning skills, to $9.3 million.

Previous backers include Andreessen Horowitz, Founder’s Fund and Maveron. Hawkins founded video game publisher Electronic Arts.

PRESS RELEASE

NEW TRIP HAWKINS STARTUP RAISES $6.5 MILLION IN SERIES A FUNDING;
LAUNCHES SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING GAME – DOWNLOAD FOR FREE AT ITUNES

“IF…” Designed to Offer Children an Entertaining Avenue to Emotional Intelligence;
New Company Founded by Education and Gaming Experts

San Mateo, CA, February 26, 2014 –If You Can Company, a new startup from Trip Hawkins that uses gameplay to teach children social and emotional learning (SEL) skills, today announced it has closed a $6.5 million Series A round led by Greylock Partners. Almaz Capital joined Greylock and other investors in the round. Previously, the company raised $2.8 million from founders, angels and seed funds including Andreessen Horowitz, Founder’s Fund, Maveron and several others. Today’s Series A announcement will bring If You Can Company’s total funding to $9.3 million.

The company also announced that its new iPad game, “IF…”, is now available in the App Store on iTunes for free. “IF…” is a chapter-based adventure game that helps children learn social and emotional skills (SEL) like how to manage difficult emotions, persevere through challenges, make healthy decisions and show empathy and compassion. With each chapter, a child navigates a new “IF…” adventure, interacting with the powerful combination of storytelling and popular game-play mechanics to engage and motivate.

“Almost every school-aged kid plays games and research shows that playing video games opens the ‘learning centers’ in children’s brains,” said Trip Hawkins, founder and CEO at If You Can, his third major gaming venture; others have included Electronic Arts and Digital Chocolate, both of which he founded. “We have brought together some of the most successful video game creators in history with national experts in SEL to harness this potential and use a game to teach children life skills to thrive both in school and out of school.”

Each of the “IF…” chapters contains about one month’s worth of “in-class” lessons which have been developed by experts in schools for over three decades and are now delivered through the spoken and written words of “IF…” characters and vivid in-game experiences. Using an atypical game development process of building a game around third-party content — similar to how Hawkins built EA’s Madden Football by incorporating, player stats and the NFL rules to define performance and gameplay — “IF…” is the first educational game to leverage Social and Emotional Learning teaching standards to create a highly engaging role-play game.

“Although our team includes some of the most renowned game creators in history, leaders of national educational organizations and experts in the field of Social and Emotional Learning, we’re also moms, dads, aunts and uncles; we’re teachers, volunteers and concerned citizens,”  said Jessica Berlinski, co-founder of If You Can Company.  “We all share one common goal: we want to make this world a better place, and we believe that empowering and supporting children with these skills are a big part of how to do that.”

The company also announced that David Sze, partner at Greylock Partners, has joined the Board of Directors at If You Can Company.

“We always look to invest in companies with a strong team and an innovative product that is solving a real problem; Trip Hawkins and the rest of the company have this in spades,” said Mr. Sze. “We are proud to be a part of the If You Can journey as they pioneer a new learning model for apps and education.”

“IF…” an iPad game, leverages an epic narrative and is a fun, interactive role-playing game, set in the imaginary town of Greenberry. Designed to engage the child in a “hero’s journey” in which they slowly unlock the mysteries of the town and bring the two rival factions – the dogs and the cats – back into harmony. “IF” is created for children ages 7-11 and includes a user-friendly app for parents to engage in the fun and support their children.

Research supporting Social and Emotional Learning, the discipline of learning how to understand and manage one’s emotions, has markedly increased in both positive psychology and academia. Research now proves this learning can be taught and that this set of skills not only helps students learn in school, but also it helps them develop into happier, healthier children.

“If…” drew from several academic and research publications as well as school-based SEL programs to inform its learning content and  goals, beginning with the State of Illinois (first to develop freestanding, comprehensive state standards in SEL) and The Nueva School (pioneers in the field of SEL). “If…” endeavors to align with all published teaching standards. For background information on SEL go to ifyoucan.org.

About If You Can Company
If You Can Company is a new startup that uses game play to teach children social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. Founded by an interdisciplinary team that includes some of the most successful video game creators in history, including Trip Hawkins, the founder of game company icons EA and Digital Chocolate, If You Can leverages an epic narrative and fun game play to teach proven life skills like empathy and perseverance. The game aims to improve children’s daily lives – both in and out of school – by building the skills that successfully equip them to handle bullying, managing difficult emotions and academic challenges. The game will also feature a user-friendly app for parents to support their children for 21st century success. If You Can is funded by Greylock Ventures and a number of leading angel investors at major venture firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Maveron, and Almaz Capital. The company is based in San Mateo, California, close to Draper University of Heros, a world-class school for the brightest young entrepreneurs from around the world.

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