Fifteen months after indicating to New York Times columnist David Pogue at a Macworld event that he was raising money for a start-up, actor LeVar Burton is fully focused on the twain of education and enhanced children’s e-books. He tells Venture Beat that his company RRKidz has got $3 million in seed funding and is compiling a library of 300 iPad and Smartphone titles, with roughly 50 of those to be voiced by Burton himself.
The actor is partnered on the project with Buffalo’s WNED-TV, rights-holder to the 1983-2006 PBS series Reading Rainbow. He’s also put together a very impressive SoCal nucleus:
Burton’s Los Angeles-based team includes co-founder and chief strategy officer Mark Wolfe, who produced films such as Terminator 3 and Kinsey. The company’s chief executive is Asra Rasheed, an experienced digital media entrepreneur and previous co-founder of game rental service Gottaplay. The chief technology officer is Duc Haba, who previously worked at mobile analytics firm Motally. Sangita Patel is president of digital publishing and previous led business development initiatives at the Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Ventures.
Burton tells reporter Dean Takahashi that he spent a lot of time finding the “right kind of money” for his new enterprise and was motivated by the eroded state of the U.S. public education system.
Update – 02/02/12: As part of these ongoing efforts, Burton has now reclaimed from a squatter the Twitter handle @ReadingRainbow.