Pillar Learning Before Shark Tank
Artificial intelligence, or AI, has become more well-known over the years. It is so well-known, in fact, that it is being used in nearly every industry. One industry that has been working with AI technologies for some time now is the education industry. There are many ways in which AI technologies can help students receive a better, more clear education, though some younger children may not understand how to use some of the technologies until they’re older. Due to this, a company known as Pillar Learning has created a device that will help the younger generations learn in a more innovative way.
Pillar Learning is a parent company that has created an artificial intelligence storytelling robot, which is known as Codi. This robot is capable of helping kids with things like daily routines, storytelling, and even music. In fact, Codi is programmed to tell kids more than 130 different educational stories. He’s even capable of showing his emotions using the color-changing lights in his ears, which change according to the emotion. With the daily routines feature, parents can use the Codi parent app on their phone to input the tasks that they want Codi to remind their kids to do. This can be anything from reminding them to brush their teeth, do their homework, clean up their room, etc. Parents can even send their kids voice messages through the robot as well. The Codi robot was made to help kids over the age of 12 months. Due to this, Codi was made of food-grade silicone that is safe for kids and will not break easily.
Pillar Learning was founded in December of 2017 by Dayu Yang, Chris Oslebo, and William Mock. Dayu is the CEO of Pillar Learning. Before developing Codi, Dayu studied at Peking University, Stanford University, and The Wharton School to get his master’s degree in Business Administration. In between his university years, the founder worked for Kabam and The Boston Consulting Group. He ended up returning to The Boston Consulting Group for a year after university before he left in July of 2017 to work at Vohra Wound Physicians as a director of business and product development. In December of 2017, Dayu became the CEO of Pillar Learning, though this was only his first personal business. Now, as of December 2018, he is the founder and CEO of EcommOps.
Chris Oslebo is the co-founder of Pillar Learning as well as the head of product development and manufacturing. Chris studied at Peking University and Stanford University as well. He graduated in 2010 with a degree in international relations and affairs and became a product manager at Jazwares, Inc. soon after. In 2016, Chris left this job and moved on to a job with KUS, where he was the program manager; this position lasted for almost two years before he switched to PhatMojo. Here, he worked as their director of product development and manufacturing. This was his last position before joining Dayu at Pillar Learning in March of 2018.
William Mock is the other co-founder of Pillar Learning. William is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Peking University, and Stanford University Graduate School of Education. After leaving the University of California, Berkeley, William became the Chief Academic Officer for AIC Education. He left AIC in March of 2016 to become a full-time kindergarten teacher at KIPP DC. William was one of the co-founders of iDistinguish Consulting for almost three years; however, he left that position in 2019. His last job before Pillar Learning was as a mentor and operations manager for Springboard. Like Chris, William joined Pillar Learning in March of 2018, where he still works part-time. He does, however, work full-time as the director of social enterprise and partnerships at Students Rising Above.
Pillar Learning on Shark Tank
Dayu Yang, Chris Oslebo, and William Mock appeared on Shark Tank with their storytelling robot, Codi, to pitch their business, Pillar Learning, to the sharks. The founders are seeking a deal of $500,000 in exchange for a 10% stake in their $5 million company. After telling the sharks about themselves and introducing the product, Dayu, Chris, and William provide the sharks with a demonstration of the Codi robot. The founders share that they have been advertising the product on Facebook and Instagram. In 2019, they started shipping out the Codi robot; they ended up doing $260,000 in sales between their orders on Amazon and the Pillar Learning website. Each Codi robot costs the founders $25.76 to make, and they are being sold for $124.99.
Mark Cuban begins talking about how popular and competitive the industry of artificial intelligence is and how Pillar Learning is in competition with well-known brands like Amazon’s Alexa devices. Although Mark likes the concept, he doesn’t believe that the Codi robot will scale. For this reason, he backs out. Lori Greiner backs out next, after stating that she has concerns about the cost of the robot, as well as concerns about the competition in this industry. Robert Herjavec, on the other hand, was impressed with the robot; however, he mentions that kids may eventually forget about Codi if another popular device is created. For now, he holds out on making an offer.
Barbara Corcoran is the next investor to back out of the deal with Pillar Learning. She doesn’t think that Codi is a product that can make them money. This leaves one last investor, Kevin O’Leary. Kevin briefly touches back on Mark Cuban’s initial concerns with the competition. He believes that selling this product may be difficult considering it’s up against Amazon’s and Google’s products. By this point of the pitch, none of the sharks were willing to make the founders an offer. But this didn’t stop the founders from pushing further. Dayu, Chris, and William continued pitching the Codi robot to the investors, which eventually got them an offer from Robert. He offers them $500,000 in exchange for a 25% stake in Pillar Learning. The founders counter with a 15% stake, but Robert isn’t willing to go under 25%. Ultimately, Dayu, Chris, and William accept Robert’s offer.
Pillar Learning Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
During Pillar Learning’s appearance on Shark Tank, the founders, Dayu Yang, Chris Oslebo, and William Mock, were able to secure a deal with Robert Herjavec. Since then, as of late 2022, the shark has not closed the deal. Nonetheless, the Shark Tank episode did provide Pillar Learning with a small increase in their Codi robot sales. Now, due to the price of this device, many parents are not purchasing it; however, the founders are still said to have been making a 50% profit from the sales. While specifics regarding how much they made in sales at that time are not known, we do know that, as of September 2022, Pillar Learning had an annual revenue of $1.2 million. In addition to that, the founders of the Codi robot are planning to add paid content to the robot’s features. In addition, the Codi robot has been nominated for the Healthline Parenthood Best of the Year award in 2021. The product has also made its way into a ToysRUs location in New Jersey. As of 2023, Pillar Learning is focusing on growing their company further via marketing.