Ayah Bdeir, littleBits, Woman Entrepreneur
What struck me when I spoke with Ayah about her company littleBits is people like Ayah are makers. To me makers are people who are making products that will hopefully transform our daily lives. Products of old will be put to pasture as new cutting edge products take their place. Just as new companies are transforming the way we do business others are making new products that are working on a different revolution. Have I got your attention?
Ayah grew up in Lebanon where she got a computer engineering degree. She was accepted to the MIT media lab and off she went and has been here ever since. After graduating from the media lab, Ayah spent some time working hedge funds and banks. She went on to IBeam where she was working on smart design for consumer electronics. Ayah also taught at Parson and NYU.
To get her point across about what she was teaching which was about the intersection between design and electronics, she came up with the idea of Little Bits. The concept started to stick and this idea started to form into something. littleBits is a construction kit that comes with pre-assembled circuit boards that snap together with magnets that allow you to program things automatically. Think Legos for the next generation.
The idea is that kids and adults can work together even though they have no expertise in electrical engineering to create anything from a doll house to a phone. She has been working on the concept and assembly for a few years. What is cool about this product that it is truly snap and play. There is no learning curve.
Ayah showed her product at the Maker Faire last year and what she noticed was interesting. First of all, at her booth, the kids wouldn't leave. Second of all, the girls would not put the bits down. The girls would draw up their ideas and then put it together with the little bits. The coolest thing that someone built out of six modules was a mock up mp3 player. It was like a handmade iPod.
The kit is composed of 10 components, 60 pieces and a set of directions. There are ways to use the lights, temperature sensors, buzzers and so you can create pretty complex things quite quickly. She launched the concept and immediately had 900 orders waiting for the product. You can buy the product today.
I am so impressed with Ayah's enthusiam for what she is doing that I made an investment in her comany. Not surprising is that MIT Media Labs is leading the round. I also love that girls were so drawn to this product. The ability to use the technology available today for the next generation of engineers to play with is pretty damn cool. Guaranteed that you will be hearing a lot more about Ayah and littleBits in the year to come...and btw, they are hiring.