Thunkable Launches Cross-Platform App Maker That Lets Kids Drag, Drop...


Thunkable Launches Cross-Platform App Maker That Lets Kids Drag, Drop and Build

By Tony Wan     Jun 5, 2018

Thunkable Launches Cross-Platform App Maker That Lets Kids Drag, Drop and Build

Making an app that works across different mobile platforms was once unthinkable for novice programmers. But Thunkable, a company with roots in MIT, is rolling out a new platform where even kids can build games and safety apps across different devices.

Today, the San Francisco startup is launching a cross-platform app builder, dubbed “Thunkable X,” that offers a drag-and-drop interface for users to build and deploy apps natively on both Android and iOS devices. Users can also upload these apps directly to Apple’s and Google’s app stores.

Today, the company claims that more than 500,000 users have used the platform to build more than 1 million apps. And Thunkable is eyeing the education market. It recently partnered with to make its app-building tool available for Hour of Code, a one-day event that invites educators and students to partake in programming exercises.

Already, teenagers have used Thunkable to build apps for everything from throwing dice to combating anti-bullying, sharing statuses and learning English. In Yemen, an engineer with no programming experience used it to build a solar power app.

Thunkable traces its origins to a Google-supported research project at MIT, where Arun Saigal, Thunkable’s co-founder and CEO, worked as an engineer on a MIT Media Lab project called MIT App Inventor. “We set out to build a Scratch-like tool to build mobile apps,” Saigal tells EdSurge. (Scratch refers to the block-style programming tool popular among children.)

Thunkable is free for anyone to use and build apps—on one condition: If the app uses a third-party plugins to process transactions (such as Stripe, a popular mobile payment processor), then the company takes a cut of the revenue.

Thunkable was spun off as an independent company in 2016. That year, it joined Y Combinator, that prestigious accelerator for tech startups.

To date, Thunkable has raised $3.3 million in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA, SV Angel, Y Combinator, PJC, Mandra Capital, Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures and ZhenFund.

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