Construction and road crew workers are constantly at risk in the field. But, as entrepreneurs Max Baker and Andrew Royal see it, the old-school reflective orange vest just isn’t enough protection. That’s why they created Illumagear, an innovative Seattle startup that’s developing new technologies to illuminate workers as they go about their jobs at construction sites.
The company, which won the top prize at last year’s Seattle Angel Conference, has now reeled in more money. It just announced that it has raised $975,000 in equity financing, plus a $500,000 line of credit to help fund new inventory. Backers of the company include Seattle area angels such as Ken Pilcher, co-founder of Clarisonic, and members of the Alliance of Angels.
Illumagear’s first product is dubbed The Halo Light, an illumination system that attaches to a hardhat and produces a halo light around the wearer’s head. The device is designed to make the wearer more visible in dark or foggy conditions, making workers visible from as far away as a quarter mile in all directions.
Illumagear has yet to publicly-launch the device, yet it has already received numerous pre-orders with additional interest from companies and organizations such as Skanska, Kiewit,Turner Construction, The City of Seattle and the Departments of Transportation for Washington and Oregon.
“This funding came in faster than expected and puts us on a path to accelerate our efforts, including hiring and product development, and begin delivering product to customers as early as this October,” said CEO and co-founder Max Baker in a release.
Here’s more of the backstory on Illumigear from company co-founder Andrew Royal who left his job at Microsoft to work on the startup fulltime last November.
After spending several years in the construction industry, Max was inspired to see if he could develop a compelling product for that market. Recognizing the hard hat as the ubiquitous symbol of the industry, his brainstorming focused there and then specifically on how he could provide workers with a better solution to be safe and to do their jobs more effectively. He first came up with the idea for The Halo Light in 2011, scrambled some dollars together to build a crude prototype and started making cold calls to various local contractors to show them what he had invented. The early feedback he got motivated him to pursue the idea further.
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