Hardware startup Navdy has raised a $6.5 million seed funding round for its connected car tech, which focuses on the heads-up display it created. The company had closed the funding officially before it ever began its pre-order campaign, which has netted the startup $2.4 million in committed orders since it began on August 5.
The company closed the funding on August 1, and the round includes Upfront Ventures, Ludow Ventures, Lightbank, MESA+ and more. Navdy CEO and co-founder Doug Simpson explained in an interview that they had enough confidence in their product that the investors didn’t require proof of interest from consumers via a pre-order campaign, and that the round was oversubscribed. The pre-order gave them lots of opportunity to gather feedback from their first customers, however.
“A lot of [the feedback] has been around what applications people want to see on the device, what navigation apps they prefer,” he said. “So in Europe, for example, adding navigation that has offline maps for avoiding roaming fees as people travel from country-to-country is important. Also, we’re hearing that people really want this device to be the center of everything they do in the car.”
The touchless gestures and the focus point off in the horizon are what make this such an appealing hub for interacting with in-car infotainment content. Simpson says that they’ve been thinking along the lines of making Navdy a centralized hub since the beginning, since they identified that most cars on the road don’t have Bluetooth or hands-free, and they see this as confirmation that their device can “update the technology in their car” without complex installation or huge expense.
“We’ve had over 650 retailers and distributors from around the world contact us with interest in carrying and selling the product,” Simpson said.
Navdy is different from in-dash consoles, Simpson said, and as such probably won’t compete directly with them. The focus with Navdy is keeping driver eyes on the road, and providing safe interaction methods. He called the experience of how it projects things out onto the road as “magical,” and says this also sets them apart from GPS-company created solutions like Garmin’s HUD.
Car makers are pushing the limits of what cars can do out of the box, with infotainment software solutions that incorporate the Android and iOS devices people are already carrying, but Navdy could be a solution that addresses the large existing car market, and stands in for expensive car-maker and dealer-sourced options.