Knightscope, the Dalek-like mall security robot startup we’ve mentioned here before has decided to do one of those new crowdsourced “mini-IPOs.”
Also referred to as Regulation A+, these types of public offerings for private companies just became legal about a year ago to give startups access to capital from just about anyone. They are basically crowdfunding with an equity stake in the company you invest in and are supposed to give the public more investment choices than what’s available on the public market.
So far Knightscope has raised close to $15 million in its Series A and B rounds and now aims to raise an additional $20 million at a $80 million pre-money valuation. So for a mere $999 minimum investment to start you can now get a stake in this Silicon Valley-based robot security guard company.
Why a mini public offering instead of going the traditional venture capital route? Knightscope is built on technology made to monitor security situations in public spaces. Though the startup has gone down the VC path before Knightscope’s CEO William Santana Li tells TechCrunch most VC’s don’t have enough of the needed security background to understand the space it operates in.
“Most VCs are not fluent nor have a track record in physical security, law enforcement, robotics and large-scale hardware – though there are a lot of smart folks out there,” Li said.
But he also wanted to emphasize this as a chance for a security-conscientious public to get in on the deal. “No amount of thoughts and prayers from our political leaders will solve the level of violence, mass shootings and terrorism in our country – and this is a chance to back a solution instead of backing words with no action,” Li said.
The company tells TechCrunch more than 2,000 people have already expressed interest in investment and the amount is well past the initial raise goal, bringing the total potential amount to $65 million at the moment.
Though that’s not actual dollars, just pledges, and tier 1 of Reg A+ only allows up to $20 million investment, with an upper limit of $50 million in tier 2, this type of crowdfunded investment shows the potential to gain interest outside traditional venture capital to help small companies gain needed funds.
But there’s a potential downside to Reg A+ as well. Uninformed investors with smaller cash reserves than rich LP’s or well-funded VC’s are more likely to feel the loss should the investment go belly up.
Still, the new funding source seems to be doing just fine. About 147 Regulation A+ offerings, seeking up to approximately $2.6 billion in financing have been filed, 81 which were approved and sought approximately $1.5 billion, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Knightscope was founded not just to build the mall security cop of the future but as a potential crime prediction and prevention network and the new funding will supposedly be used to help develop weapon detection technology to help prevent mass shootings and other tragedies facing public areas in the future.
The money will also help to fuel expansion throughout the country. Knightscope’s robots are already on duty in several California locations, including Sacramento Kings arena, the Microsoft campus and the Westfield Valley Fair mall in San Jose.
Get a behind-the-scenes at the technology in the interview below or go to Knightscope’s crowdfund investment page for more information.