Just four months ago, most of us wouldn’t have thought twice about touching a thermostat or lock that was frequently touched by other people. But with the COVID-19 era, contactless control is in vogue–and maybe here to stay.
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Enterprise home automation startup SmartRent raised $60 million for its Series C, the company announced Wednesday.
The Scottsdale, Arizona-based startup makes software and hardware to manage smart devices in multifamily communities. Its products are used by property owners and managers to control things like lights or thermostats all from one location. With the COVID-19 pandemic, contactless methods of management are now necessary for multifamily property operators, according to the company.
“The multifamily industry knew, ‘yes we need to do this’ but it was kind of slow to move. Now it’s ‘we have to do this,’ ” CEO Lucas Haldeman said in an interview with Crunchbase News.
Many key members of the SmartRent team previously worked in real estate and wanted to find a solution for enterprise smart home devices. There needed to be a way to control thousands of thermostats or gates, for example, from a central system or app.
The company saw 600 percent year-over-year growth in 2019, and even with the COVID-19 pandemic preventing SmartRent from going into multifamily communities to install the system, it is on track to grow this year, Haldeman said. By this time in 2021, Haldeman expects SmartRent to be in at least five new countries and double its growth.
“We’ve known it’s been critical. This will help you run a better apartment business,” Haldeman said. “But now instead of us trying to communicate that and shout it from the balconies, everyone’s coming to us.”
The company also has basically no churn, Haldeman said. Because it’s a hardware-software hybrid company where devices have to be installed in multifamily communities (with multiyear commitments), property managers would have to be “really, really frustrated” with SmartRent to end the relationship.
With the new funding, SmartRent plans on rolling out new products and expanding internationally as it focuses on growth.
SmartRent has about 230 employees, with about 100 of them in Arizona and the rest in the field working as installers and trainers. The company is in 38 states with plans to be in all 50 by the end of the year. It’s also in Canada and has some pilots in Europe.
The company just introduced an access control for common doors like garages and gates, and plans to launch a smart parking product. It will also be hiring more engineers in Arizona, along with sales and marketing personnel, Haldeman said.
“It also allows us to really focus on growing and growing as fast as we can,” Haldeman said.
Along with integrating smart home tools, SmartRent’s technology also allows for self-guided tours of units, something Haldeman said owners will see as the default method post-COVID-19.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias