Internet-of-Things startup SmartThings has spent the last year or so building a platform that people can use to connect to an increasingly wide range of devices in their homes. Now it’s getting ready to bet even bigger on those products and its platform, thanks to a $12.5 million Series A round of financing led by Greylock Partners and Highland Capital Partners.
The company got its start thanks to a Kickstarter campaign to fund its SmartThings starter kit, which included a “Smart Hub” and variety of devices that could be monitored or controlled remotely via mobile apps.
By connecting everyday devices to the Internet, users can take advantage of a number of applications. That includes everything from home security — for instance, using motion detectors to alert them when someone has entered the home — to driving more efficient use of energy — that is, shutting off lights or heat when a room is not in use.
Many of these applications could be realized by early customers of the SmartThings starter kit, which was designed to educate consumers about the connected home and to whet the consumer appetite for Internet-of-Things applications.
But SmartThings didn’t want to just power its own products — it hoped to create a platform upon which other companies could create devices and applications that would make the connected home smarter and products more useful. So it opened up its developer toolkit to third-parties and built an online shop where customers could find devices that leverage its technology.
According to Alex Hawkinson, CEO and co-founder of SmartThings, the number one issue to adoption is just consumer awareness and education about the value that users can get from connecting everyday items to the Internet and managing them remotely. Hopefully, as it sees more adoption by both developers and distributors, more consumers will become aware of the benefits.
Now that it’s laid that foundation, SmartThings is ready to take off in a big way, by enhancing its product portfolio and increasing distribution of its products and apps. On the developer side, SmartThings is hoping to move beyond the thousand or so apps and devices that leverage its technology now, and get more mass market adoption.
It’s also expecting to soon see wider distribution. Today, SmartThings products can be purchased either through its online store or Amazon.com. But the company expects to see SmartThings products soon available through more online and offline retailers.
The funding will be key to that push, as will some of the expertise of its investors. Along with the funding, Greylock’s Josh Elman and Highland’s Manish Patel will join the SmartThings board of directors. Patel, who is also on the board of Leap Motion and had previously spent many years at Google, will bring his background in connected hardware and developer platforms to bear.
Meanwhile, this marks the first lead investment at Greylock for Elman, whose experience with consumer and mobile products will be leaned on as the company seeks to make devices in the connected home a more mainstream proposition. While there’s a vast — and growing — number of devices that are becoming connected in the home, Elman told me SmartThings “was the first product, API, and platform that I saw that starts to do it right.”
With their investment, Greylock and Highland join existing investors including First Round Capital, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, CrunchFund, Max Levchin, Yuri Milner’s Start Fund, David Tisch, A-Grade Investments, Chris Dixon, Vivi Nevo, Alexis Ohanian, Loic Le Meur, Martin Varsavsky, Kal Vepuri, Ryan Sarver, Jared Hecht, Steve Martocci, Emil Michael, Aaron Levie, Zorik Gordon, and Nathan Hanks. The new round brings total funding in SmartThings to $15.5 million.