Ilan Abehassera Teases Insensi, A Device For Long-Distance Families

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There is not much to say about Insensi just yet. I met the company’s founder Ilan Abehassera in Paris two weeks ago, and he gave me a few hints about his very secretive startup. First, it’s a hardware startup based in New York. Second, he hired a team of all-star engineers. Third, he raised $2.4 million already.

Abehassera previously co-founded task management platform Producteev with Aric Lasry. Producteev was later acquired by Jive in 2012, and he spent two years working with Jive in Palo Alto. When Producteev was acquired, the company was profitable with an impressive revenue growth rate of 10 percent month over month.

Yet, Abehassera couldn’t help but think about a new venture. Around a year ago, he started thinking about a project that would mix hardware and software to solve a problem that is dear to his heart — long-distance family communication.

Originally from France, Abehassera has lived in the U.S. for 10 years now. But he doesn’t come back to France as often as he would like. That’s why he realizes how painful it can be to keep in touch with his family.

“We will completely revolutionize the way family members talk to each other,” Abehassera told me.

In particular, his young children don’t use a smartphone just yet. They can’t just use Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Facebook. Insensi will help young children stay in touch with their cousins, without requiring the help of their parents.

But Abehassera didn’t show me the device during our meeting — it was too early. Instead, he named all his team members, who all held key positions in very successful hardware companies, such as Withings, Parrot and Aldebaran Robotics. Given Abehassera’s software background, the software part will play an important role, as well. From what I can tell, Insensi’s device success will depend on this tight integration between software and hardware.

The team of seven is also working with MAP, the design studio that previously worked on Kano. Insensi expects to start accepting pre-orders in a few months and ship everything later this year.

And this is key to understanding Insensi’s secretive attitude. The company could have launched a Kickstarter campaign, grabbed a lot of money, worked for a couple of years, raised VC money for the final steps and shipped. But it is completely rethinking this timeline and choosing another path. Insensi doesn’t want to disappoint with delays and design changes.

The company raised $2.4 million from Felicis Ventures (the VC firm that invested in Dropcam, Fitbit, etc.), with participation from Prudence Holdings, Metamorphic Ventures, SparkLabs Global Ventures and multiple angels, such as David Marcus, Kai Huang, Daniel Marhely, Xavier Niel and Jacques-Antoine Granjon.

Now, we’ll have to wait a couple of months to see what Insensi’s device actually looks like. But Abehassera caught my attention.