Afero raises $20.3 million to secure connected devices, whether WiFi is working or not

A Los Altos startup called Afero raised $20.3 million in a new round of venture funding to secure connected devices, from toys and arcade games to medical equipment. The company’s technology works even when WiFi isn’t, employing 4GLTE and other radio sensors.

Afero works with large hardware makers who install the startup’s proprietary chip in their IoT devices or components.

The chips, which have been licensed to and are being manufactured by Murata, become identifiers for the gadgets they’re installed in. They interact with router-like hardware to process data as it passes between a gadget and apps in the cloud. The “router” in this equation could be a user’s smartphone, or standalone devices made by Afero.

Afero also provides API’s and mobile app monitoring and controls to secure data passing from smart devices to the cloud.

Samsung Catalyst Fund led the Series A investment in Afero joined by Presidio Ventures, Sanshin Electronics Co. Ltd., SoftBank, Fenox Venture Capital, Assembly Fund and Linear Technology co-founder Robert C. Dobkin.

According to Fenox Venture Capital General Partner and CEO Anis Uzzaman, investors expect Afero to use their newly raised capital to sell their system to category leading makers of smart devices and hardware components.

The company has already inked deals with Bandai and Infocom, both limited partners in Fenox funds.

Afero CEO Joe Britt said the company is also making inroads in the insurance business.

He explained, “In the personal property preservation and loss industry, water damage is a huge driver of insurance costs. These companies want a straightforward way to detect water leaks, early. We give them a low-cost device that doesn’t rely on WiFi working in the home to be effective, that bridges water leak detectors in the home back to the cloud.”