OnBeep, a San Francisco startup founded by Chef co-founder and former Amazon Availability Program Manager Jesse Robbins, has raised a series A funding round worth $6.25 million. The money will be used to fund the creation of a new hardware device designed to make it easy for groups of people to talk to one another with the press of a button.
The device is designed to make it easy for groups of people to communicate with one another, without having to fiddle with a smartphone. Robbins called OnBeep’s product (which is also named OnBeep) similar to one of the communicators on “Star Trek.” Users can wear it or clip it somewhere convenient, and be able to immediately get a hold of people they want to reach.
OnBeep is built to help groups communicate with one another in real time, like families at an amusement park, or a team of people working on an event. In order to communicate with the outside world, the OnBeep will pair with a user’s smartphone. The company isn’t ready to release exact details on what the device looks like or how much it will cost, but Robbins said that it will be available later this year.
In addition to Robbins, OnBeep was co-founded by Greg Albrecht, who previously served as a Senior Software Engineer at Splunk, and Roger Wood, who led product design and marketing for Nextel. The company’s team draws from a wide talent pool that includes former employees of Apple, Google, Amazon’s Lab126 hardware design lab and Northrop Grumman.
The round was led by Rich Levandov of Avalon Ventures, who has invested in a number of other companies including Cheezburger and Zynga.
“There are countless mobile messaging apps, and none of them give people a way to stay connected to each other without having to look down at their smartphone,” Levandov said in a press release. “We backed OnBeep because we believe they will fundamentally change the way the world communicates.”
The product is being brought to market through a partnership with PCH Access, a program designed to give hardware startups easy access to manufacturing facilities in China.
According to Robbins, the company is in the process of testing “near-final manufactured versions of the devices with a selected group.”
“Building a successful company in Seattle was really a wonderful thing to be able to do, but what I found when I started thinking about the talent we would need to build a successful wearable startup, the nexus for that is really in San Francisco,” said Robbins, who still has a home in Seattle.
OnBeep’s seed round was lead by Gil Penchina on AngelList, and included participation from WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, Chef co-founder Barry Steinglass and Nordstrom Vice President of E-Commerce Technology Ruben Ortega.
People who are interested in getting their hands on OnBeep’s product can sign up for the company’s testing program here. Robbins said that OnBeep currently has a small group of testers, but the company is looking to pick up more before launching the product later this year.