Many houses today are connected to some kind of device, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, but for bigger houses with dozens of rooms and connected devices, a more sophisticated system is needed.
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To fill that need, Denver-based Josh.ai secured an $11 million Series A round of funding Thursday to boost its hands-free interface hardware and software for the home, which uses privacy-focused artificial intelligence technology.
The company professionally installs a “central control system” in homes that are 5,000 square feet and larger, and integrates with operations around the home, such as lighting, music, air conditioning or heating, audio/visual, security and appliances, CEO Alex Capecelatro told Crunchbase News. Home automation systems can typically cost anywhere from $25,000 up to $500,000, but Josh.ai is not nearly that expensive, he added.
“It’s like voice control on steroids for the home. For example, when you walk into a room, you can say, ‘Turn on the lights, open the shades and play music,’” he said. “For the music, the system uses intelligence to figure out what kind of music you like to listen to in that room at a certain time. So, music for the home gym in the morning and dining room at night.”
Solving complicated problems
The high-end smart home space is both antiquated and crowded. Companies that do large-scale installations, such as Crestron and Savant, are now competing with products from Nest, Google, Amazon and Apple, Capecelatro said.
Josh.ai plays at the intersection of those two areas, offering a simple set-up—even in a home with 50 rooms and tons of complicated devices—while also offering built-in privacy measures, he added.
“We can solve those complicated problems, while also providing privacy, such as enabling devices to only work in one room or locking down the voice-activation system so a guest room only does lights,” Capecelatro said.
This new round of funding puts the 5-year-old company’s total raise at $22 million since its inception, he said.
Capecelatro did not disclose who participated in the funding round—the investors requested anonymity—but he said the company spent some time speaking with institutional venture capital firms before deciding to go with corporate VCs.
“We felt like they understood the hardware and the economies of the sector better,” he added.
Josh.ai previously raised funds in 2017, when Capecelatro said the company was purely a software company. It used that funding to build out its hardware, and now is using the Series A to scale its entire platform.
The company currently has offices in Colorado and California, and does work across the country and in Canada, but Capecelatro said Josh.ai is gaining international exposure, so some of the funds will go toward expansion. In addition, the company will bring new hardware products online, as well as add employees.
“In the professionally installed space, technology support is important,” he said. “If you have a problem with Google, you are not going to call them. But for us, we have a great tech support team, so we are going to grow that team.”
Overall, Josh.ai has about 30 employees and plans are to grow that to 50 by the end of the year, Capecelatro said.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias