Business Venture

Industrial AR Computing Company RealWear Raises $80 Million Series B

Andy Lowery, CEO of RealWear, was not in the office when I called him late last week for an interview. He was driving back. Just a few minutes before, he was extricated from a gas station car wash, which had broken down, trapping the Vancouver, Wash.-based executive and his vehicle within it.

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RealWear designs and manufactures a wearable computing device called the HMT-1. It’s aimed at industrial workers and, using augmented reality tech and speech recognition capabilities tailored to noisy industrial environments, it enables them to get realtime feedback from experts who are able to see what’s going on through the network-connected camera.

Lowery said that, had the repair person who was called to the car wash to get him out, the troubleshooting process would have gone quicker.

On Monday, the company announced that it raised $80 million in a Series B round led by industrial automation company Teradyne. Participating investors include Qualcomm Ventures, Bose Ventures, wearable computer company Kopin Corp., and JP Morgan Chase. Lowery said that all investors involved provide strategic as well as financial value to his venture.

This round brings the company’s total equity and debt funding to over $100 million. Crunchbase News covered RealWear’s $17 million Series A back in February 2018.

Lowery said that this funding round, which is an unspecified blend of equity and debt, buys RealWear infinite runway. “We don’t foresee a need to raise additional capital,” he said. Since its last round, the company’s revenues have grown 40 percent “in almost a compounding way.” He said that Q2 2018 will close out with $9 million in quarterly revenue. RealWear generated $5.2 million in Q1. Lowery said the company generated $12 million in all of 2018 and is targeting $50 million in revenue for 2019. “If I hit $50 million and don’t increase my spend, I’ll be breakeven by Q4 and will exit the year with $5 million in EBITDA.”

“It’s been a hell of a ride,” said Lowery.

The company has shipped over 15,000 devices to over 1,300 enterprise customers around the world. One customer is BMW. The German automaker deployed HMT-1 devices in all of its U.S. dealerships to give technicians in the shop the ability to connect directly to engineering experts located offsite. BMW says the new AR-bases system helps its workers complete maintenance tasks up to 75 percent quicker than before.

Lowery said that he plans to use the capital “judiciously,” focusing on research and development, “technology acquisitions,” and continued international expansion. RealWear has a joint venture in China, giving it special access to state-backed industrial companies operating in the country. RealWear China is largely unaffected by the ongoing trade tiff between China and the U.S., and its technology is not subject to export restrictions the U.S. Commerce Department may place on strategically important tech like artificial intelligence.

RealWear is working on a successor to the HMT-1, though Lowery gave few details about its eventual release.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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