It’s hard to think of a product category that is less sexy than window air conditioning units. Windmill begs to differ, bringing a breath of fresh air to an industry that’s been steadfastly clunking away in the corner. The company raised $10 million to make the ubiquitous AC easier to install, smarter and gentler on the environment.
“Back in 2018, I was moving house, to a new apartment in Manhattan. My brother was with me — he is now a co-founder of the company — and together, we found the worst-looking window air conditioner you can imagine. We called up a mutual friend in the city, Ryan, whose family’s been in air conditioning for decades. Ryan sent a couple of his technicians, and he made the experience super easy. But I got to thinking: what do you do if you don’t know a guy,” explains Michael Mayer, CEO at Windmill. “This product category has not been reimagined. It is super antiquated and backward. We have 60 years of institutional knowledge in this space, specifically including manufacturing other types of air conditioners and air products.”
Windmill currently has one product, an 8,300 BTU window-mounted unit. The next product will be a smaller, 6,000 BTU unit. The company has an extensive plan to further evolve its product lineup with other air products. The CEO declined to outline the specifics, but suggests that fans, filtration and other heating and cooling products are all options.
Windmill claims its special sauce is both in the products themselves, and in the customer experience.
“I think the first thing that strikes customers is the way we look. People have said it looks like a Sonos speaker in their window, sort of like eye candy. The industrial design is modern and sleek. We also have ease of install, and a patent-pending, pre-assembled installation kit. All you do is lift up the box, and the unit is ready to put in the window. You don’t have to fumble around with a screwdriver,” pitches Mayer.
The units have auto-dimming LED displays so you have a fighting chance at getting some sleep without a search-light beaming into your room, and app support so you can control the AC unit from wherever you want in the world. It also supports Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
The company won’t share details of the fundraise or the exact number of units it has in the market, but the CEO suggests there are thousands of Windmill air conditioners out there, in every state of the nation.
In 2022, Windmill will launch an power conservation program for all of its users. Windmill is using its connected units to help modulate the power footprint of its network of connected AC devices through automated control. If successful, the company posits that it could result in tens of thousands of kW of power curtailment.
Windmill launched its first product in the summer of 2020 and sold through its first run of inventory within 48 hours of launch, amassing a 10,000 person waitlist by March 2021. Direct-to-consumer interest, combined with retail partnerships with Home Depot and PC Richard & Son, resulted in 5,000% YoY growth from 2020-2021.
Last year, the company raised $3 million; this time around, it is raising a combination of equity and debt to add $10 million to the company coffers. The round is led by dot capital, with participation from existing investors Pentland Ventures and UNTITLED
“This raise is really to help propel us to scale for the window AC, and we’re launching a new SKU of the window AC. We are also aiming to develop our larger vision,” explains Mayer. “I’m excited to show the world what we’re doing. For one, we are creating a connected suite of clean air products. The window AC is the first but there are tons of air products being used — heaters, fans, humidifiers, purifiers. The other side is energy management for our customers. These devices can talk to each other, and there’s a lot of things we can do with sensors, device-to-device communication, full home air management. So that’s where we’re headed.”