SNUPI Technologies, the University of Washington spin out led by entrepreneur Jeremy Jaech and computer scientist Shwetak Patel, has scored $2.2 million in additional financing as part of $3 million convertible debt round. The funding, largely provided by existing investors such as Madrona, WRF Capital and Seattle area angel investors, brings total funding in the company to $11.5 million.
Jaech says that SNUPI — which is developing the Wally device to detect water leaks near toilets, showers, water heaters and other devices in the home — plans to head out for a larger series B financing round early next year. “We are giving ourselves more runway,” said Jaech, who previously co-founded Visio (sold to Microsoft) and Aldus (sold to Adobe).
Jaech said demand is strong for the $299 system, with the company recently getting picked up for sale on Amazon.com. Other distribution channels are in the works, with a slate of announcements set for the fall and winter.
Wally is a unique device.
No batteries are needed, with the system set to work continuously for 10 years. It does this by bypassing traditional Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, instead using the copper wiring in the walls of a home as an antenna.
The Insurance Information Institute estimated that 14 million homeowners suffered from damage due to water, freezing and mold in 2011, which resulted in $11 billion in property loss.
Started with technology from the UW and Georgia Tech, SNUPI is an acronym that stands for Sensor Network Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure.
The 25-person company is in a hot space, given the recent buzz around Internet-connected devices, also known as the Internet of Things.
Earlier this year, Google paid $3.2 billion in cash for digital thermostat and smoke detector maker Nest, though the company shortly thereafter stopped selling its Nest Protect smoke detector due to a malfunctioning alert system. In June, Google gobbled up Dropcam for $555 million, a maker of cameras that allowed home owners to check on their properties while away.