Smart home automation startup SmartRent closed a $60 million Series C funding round. Spark Capital led the investment, which the company plans to invest in new features and in meeting the increased demand for contactless property services driven in part by the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
SmartRent acts as a central hub for smart home devices, including lighting, appliances, and security systems. The startup pitches its technology as useful for residents, but it’s the owners and real estate companies that are signing up to install the technology. The company’s managerial services install the Alloy Access controls, which the residents can use to operate locks, thermostats, and other critical parts of the home. Alloy Access can also be used to electronically manage leases, repair requests, and other paperwork.
The property owner retains overall control of the system and has to give digital permission for its use by the people living there. Their oversight also makes the process of switching a place over to new tenants a lot faster and simpler than running them through all of the maintenance and operational requirements to warm up the home. It also eliminates the need for keys, just a code or mobile app that owners can reassign to new tenants and remove old ones from it.
SmartRent points to how COVID-19 has led to an interest in self-guided tours of prospective homes and contactless entry for an increased number of package deliveries. Social distancing encourages a way to look at prospective homes without meeting up with a stranger. The same goes for contactless delivery that can be left on a step and spotted with security cameras. That said, SmartRent was seeing a spike in sales even before the pandemic began, with a 600% rise in the number of units using its tech in 2019.
The growing potential of smart homes is getting noticed by plenty of investors and large companies. For instance, Smart home voice automation startup Josh.ai recently raised $11 million on the strength of its high-end smart home system focusing on privacy. The big players in voice assistant development aren’t ignoring the smart home industry, either. Amazon started piloting its new Amazon Common Software for Devices (ACS) in February. ACS is a tool designed to simplify launching devices that support the company’s smart home software. That way, Internet of Things developers will be able to integrate standard functions like network connections and device management, and eventually Alexa voice assistant operations, with a single API instead of having to create a new system from scratch. Google Assistant gained support in March for new and better sensors that would make a smart home more responsive. It’s slightly ironic as plenty of builders have become annoyed at how Google is making its Nest brand less ecumenical, nudging users to sign up for Google accounts to maintain their smart home.
SmartRent brings its own unique features to the table. That’s why investors want to get a pice of SmartRent’s pie. It’s worth noting that, after raising $32 million just a year ago, the new funding round brings SmartRent’s total investment to $101.5 million. In addition, SmartRent added CJ Edmonds and Darian Hong to the leadership team as the chief revenue officer and chief financial officer respectively.
“This round of funding will enable our next phase of growth as we expand our portfolio to ensure more homes can benefit from a seamless smart home experience,” SmartRent CEO Lucas Haldeman said in a statement. “With this latest funding round and new executive hires, we will continue to evolve our offerings to support the multifamily and housing industry amid a challenging economic period and an increasingly digital society.”