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Deako’s smart light switch. (Deako Photo)

Seattle smart lighting startup Deako has raised $4 million as it begins to roll out a new “modular” system designed to make it easier and cheaper for home-builders to install high tech fixtures.

Deako develops smart switches that let people control lights in their house via touch, smartphone app, or a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home. Its technology works off a home’s existing wiring and provides smart lighting capability without requiring smart lightbulbs. Deako’s customers are not home-buyers but rather home-builders and their electricians, who install the hardware in new and remodeled homes.

Smart lights can be expensive and difficult to wire up, and that’s why typically builders only install them in a room or two. Deako says its “click-in” touchscreen backplates require no special wiring or hubs and can control one light, groups of lights or all of the lights in a home.

“With Deako’s modular system, builders can offer the entire home — every single switch — already wired for smart lighting when the homeowner moves in. Deako’s modular system gives the ability to easily upgrade in seconds with a ‘click-in’ smart switch,” said Derek Richardson, founder and CEO of Deako said in a statement.

Deako co-founder Derek Richardson at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

With the new round, Deako has raised a total of $15 million since it was founded in 2015. Today, Deako has 25 employees, and the company plans to hire another six to 10 people, mostly in sales and marketing to spread the word about the new modular lighting system.

Deako says its technology will be used in 20 percent of new homes being built in the Seattle area. In the last 90 days, Deako says it has signed up more than 20 new builder customers to put its technology in 1,000 new homes across the country. After expanding outside the Seattle area late last year, Deako’s products will show up in Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Idaho, Hawaii, New Jersey and Connecticut in the next few months.

The company’s co-founders Richardson and Alexander Strunkin — who is no longer with the company — went through Y Combinator in 2016 and presented during the Inventions We Love portion of the 2017 GeekWire Summit.

Richardson came up with the idea for Deako after he bought a new house and needed to swap out the light switches. When he checked out the market for smart light switches, he didn’t like how difficult it would be to replace them. The CEO comes from a technology background; he was an early employee at BlackBerry and worked at Cypress Semiconductor.

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