Finnish Startup Rightware Closes $5.2M Series B To Drive Global Growth Of Its Embedded UI Creation Tool Business

Rightware, a Finnish startup that sells embedded user interface software and performance benchmarking tools to car makers and consumer electronics companies needing to build graphical user interfaces has announced it has closed a $5.2 million Series B round. Investors in the round include Inventure and Nexit Ventures, along with new investor Finnish Industry Investment.

The startup, which was founded in 2009 has offices in Finland, Germany, China, Taiwan and the U.S., and counts Audi AG among the customers for its Kanzi UI creation tool, has raised a total of  €7 million ($9 million) to date, according to CEO Jonas Geust.

He said the Kanzi tool is designed to “close the gap” between the UI designer and the UI engineer, with both being able to work together using the same tool. Kanzi also includes a WYSYWYG feature to help cut development times. “As the design work is proceeding you can see on your target hardware exactly how it’s going to look as the work goes ahead,” he added.

Geust said the new investment will be used to expand Rightware’s global sales, and also to continue developing the tool itself. Rightware is not currently breaking out customer numbers but says it’s seeing “big growth” in uptake of its Kanzi UI — with traction in the automotive sector and consumer electronics companies in Europe, US and Asia.

“We are seeing that we have an explosive growth in the Kanzi UI business unit. We saw already during first quarter of this year… 100% growth and that seems to be continuing month-over-month,” said Geust.

“We are using [the new funding] partly to further develop the Kanzi tool and technology — that’s more an R&D investment — and then the other side of that is to build an even stronger market presence — basically opening sales and technical support offices closer to the customers.”

Geust told TechCrunch that the company believes there will be increasing demand for its tools, thanks to the rise of higher resolution screens. “The underlying theme that we are seeing is first of all that the demand for more advanced graphical or we could call that photo-realistic user interfaces is increasing, as the high definition screens become more of a commodity in different industries. It becomes the default use case that you actually have a very good-looking screen,” he said.

“That also puts higher requirements on the user interface — that it is actually living up to the standard that the hardware can deliver, and that is where we are expecting to see explosive growth in demand for the tool that can actually deliver on that demand.”

Rightware said its Q1 2013 UI business revenues were more than double compared Q1 2012. It expects growth to further accelerate towards the end of the year.

Commenting on the funding round in a statement, Jussi Hattula, Director, Team leader of Growth Capital at Finnish Industry Investment Ltd said: “Rightware leads the embedded UI industry with its innovative technology and market penetration.  The company promotes next-generation applications where integrated 2D & 3D graphics deliver better and faster user experiences. We are excited to be part of this round and to work with the company to fulfill its vision.”