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According to deutsche-startups.de VibeWrite (formerly Lernstift) is bankrupt. The Munich, Germany based edtech startup has been working on a digital pen that automatically recognizes mistakes and notifies the learner through subtle vibration.
We reported on the startup in July 2013 when it aimed to raise £120.000 on Kickstarter. Back then the product had only attracted 283 backers, missing the target by £94.000. The team then went on to focus on a group of 40 private investors who funded the project with €500.000 (£396.000).
In April 2014 the startup started a second attempt on crowdfunding platform Seedmatch under its new name VibeWrite and managed to raise over €560.000 (£444.000) from 551 backers, each investing at least €250 (£198).
According to Gruenderszene, VibeWrite had 20 employees over the summer, and is now down to 10. In an update on the crowdfunding platform VibeWrite co-founder Daniel Kaesmacher states that the team is working on raising at least €1.5 million (£1.19 million) from VCs but that the process is more complicated than expected.
In November co-founder Falk Wolsky wrote that he was sure to raise €1 million (£792.000) from four to five investors by the end of December, namely from Paua Ventures, Target-Partners, Florian Langenscheidt, Jochen Schweizer and SuperRTL-Ventures. In the update from December 12th it seems that none of the above investors are willing to back VibeWrite at the current stage.
The team still believes that they will be able to raise enough money to survive and also think about raising more investment from the crowd. The latter might become more difficult as the communication with their current backers has not been the best as backers learnt of the bankruptcy from technology blogs first and not the VibeWrite team.
There are also questions about the burn rate of VibeWrite. Having had twenty employees and prime office space in Munich is surely part of the problem with less than three months going by between raising the above mentioned €560.000 and going bankrupt.
The real issue, however, is reaching momentum and a sizeable audience willing to pay for the product. Over the past year it became obvious that VibeWrite is a niche product with high development costs before it even hits the market. Changing the name from Lernstift which clearly focused on the German-speaking DACH region to VibeWrite reaching out to a European (or even international?) audience might be an option but given the current financial situation of the startup too late and too little.
Further Reading (German)
- Der digitale Lernstift Vibewrite ist insolvent | deutsche-startups.de
- Vibewrite ist insolvent – nur wenige Wochen nach erfolgreichem Crowdfunding | Gruenderszene