Home automation startup August is getting ready to start shipping its first product to consumers early next year. But first, it’s raised a bit more cash to add personnel and ramp up production of its mobile-operated smart lock.
August raised $8 million in a funding round led by Maveron, with participation from Cowboy Ventures, Industry Ventures, Rho Ventures, and SoftTech VC. The new round brings total funding raised to $10 million, and previous investors include Matt Mullenweg, Mark Pincus, David Dolby, and Scott Belsky, among others. Along with the funding, Maveron partner David Wu will be joining August’s board of directors.
Bringing Maveron on board makes sense, as the VC firm focuses exclusively on consumer-facing companies, with other investments such as eBay, Zulily, Groupon, and Shutterfly. Wu, who joined Maveron in 2012, had personally invested in companies like Practice Fusion, Sociable Labs, Postmates, Beautylish, and Taulia, and sites on the board of Line2 and SeatMe.
With the new funding, August is getting ready to start shipping its first product, the August Smart Lock. The lock, which was designed by Yves Behar, enables homeowners and renters to access their homes or send virtual keys to others via mobile app. The August smart lock uses Bluetooth technology to enable users to automatically unlock a door when they are nearby, and it also has a feature called Everlock that can automatically lock a door behind you.
Currently available for pre-order, the smart lock is expected to start shipping to early customers in the first quarter of next year. Soon after, August hopes to make the product available through more traditional retail outlets outside its own online store.
For now, though, the company is seeking to ensure that its locks will meet the highest levels of safety and security. That includes hiring firms to try to hack its lock and hack its system, according to CEO Jason Johnson, to ensure that the product has been fully tested by the time it ships.
With the funding, August plans to hire in all aspects of the organization. It now has 10 full-time employees and another ten contractors, Johnson told me. But it’ll be adding headcount in engineering, sales, and support in preparation for demand from its own customers and those from other sales channels.
While the company isn’t ready to announce who its sales partners will be — that’ll come later — Johnson said Nest had done a good job of managing its retail strategy, by making its thermostat first available in tech and consumer electronics outlets, before then moving on to large home improvement stores and then mass market big box retailers. August could follow a similar path.
In the meantime, $8 million will go a long way to helping it ramp up ahead of its actual launch.