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Purdue affiliated startup in educational augmented reality has received nearly $120,000 to advance technology

July 11, 2018

educational games
Explore Interactive, an educational game promoting authentic learning through an immersive augmented reality mobile application, won more than $115,000 from various entrepreneurial competition throughout April and May. Pictured are two young girls utilizing the Explore! Kit launched in June. Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Explore Interactive, a Purdue Foundry-supported startup, showcased its STEM-oriented, augmented reality mobile application recently at three entrepreneurial events and received $117,250 in cash prizes and other resources it plans to invest in further development.

Wesley Virt, a Purdue Foundry client, founded Explore Interactive to commercialize a mobile application that teaches STEM concepts to K-12 students through immersive augmented reality. In January 2018, Amanda Thompson, formerly the Purdue Foundry entrepreneur-in-residence for Virt, joined the STEM game startup as CEO.

“We have been able to achieve the top educational technology startup awards in two different and competitive events,” Thompson said. “It can be hard to explain our technology to adults, but my son Dante attends our pitches to demonstrate the appeal of the learning game approach. The competition judges and attendees loved him.”

Explore Interactive won first place with $4,500 in cash and a $2,750 valued startup package at SDI Innovations’edupitch.

The business won the Schurz Innovation Challenge Award for $20,000 in cash prize and $10,000 in media prize at the McCloskey New Venture Competition.

Explore Interactive earned the “Gold Award” investment of $80,000 from the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund.

Explore Interactive invested $25,000 of the prize money in the June launch of its educational game. The Explore! Sneak Peek set will provide the complete “What is Energy?” card deck and its first three games. Orders are available here.

With its additional $80,000 cash prizes, the startup will develop the additional seven augmented reality games in the “What is Energy?” series and will release them around the holiday season.

Explore Interactive receives entrepreneurial guidance from the Purdue Foundry, a commercialization accelerator in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in Purdue’s Discovery Park.

“If it wasn’t for the Purdue Foundry, our company and team would not be here,” Virt said. “With their help and resources, we have connected with professionals in the educational field, and the Foundry has been here to guide us through the process.”

Virt said Explore Interactive wants to have an impact on education.

“Our team has a vision to democratize STEM learning. Our pocket-size lab could have an immense social impact by improving STEM access to all children — girl or boy, wealthy or underserved, urban or rural,” he said.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry was co-named a top recipient at the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Program by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at

About Elevate Ventures

Elevate Ventures is a private venture development organization that nurtures and develops emerging and existing high-potential businesses into fast-growth, Indiana-based companies. Elevate Ventures accomplishes this by providing access to capital, rigorous business analysis and robust advisory services that connect companies with the right mix of resources businesses need to succeed long term. To learn more about Elevate Ventures, its team and its funds under management, visit

Writer: Kelsey Henry, 765-588-3342,

Purdue Research Foundation Contact: Tom Coyne, 765-558-1044,

Sources: Wesley Virt,

Amanda Thompson,