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(IOTAS Photo)

IOTAS, a Portland, Ore.-based startup that helps landlords install and manage smart home devices, has raised $8.5 million. The Series A investment round was led by TELUS Ventures along with Liberty Global and Intel Capital.

IOTAS CEO Sce Pike said the company will use the money to scale its operations and invest in software to support utility and internet providers.

Sce Pike. (IOTAS Photo)

The startup makes software that allows renters, property managers, administrators and technicians to interact with smart home devices such as thermostats and motion sensors — and the data they generate. IOTAS doesn’t sell its own hardware; its platform works with a large number of approved devices.

Pike started out as a smart home skeptic. She saw the initial wave of devices — which largely targeted consumers — as misguided, given the fact that most early adopters in tech are renters and thus unlikely to purchase smart hardware for their homes.

“I didn’t think smart home was going to take off at a large scale,” said Pike, who spent her early career in smartphones at Palm and Amp’d Mobile. She also co-founded Citizen, a creative agency that was acquired by Ernst & Young.

But when a landlord approached Pike looking for a smart home solution for his buildings, her perspective changed.

“The real estate industry is really savvy,” she said. Since real estate developers have to think about what renters will want decades down the line, Pike saw an opportunity to sell them next-generation technology. “This is how smart homes can really take off,” she recalled thinking at the time.

According to Pike, the most challenging part about managing smart devices in apartments has little to do with tech. Instead, it’s all the support needed when people move in and out of a unit.

Pike has seen landlords start to offer a “tech amenity package” that delivers everything renters want — like the internet and connected devices — without having to purchase and set up the component parts.

IOTAS is currently serving around 100 buildings, including university and military housing, and has 31 employees. Pike started IOTAS with co-founder Jeremy Steinhauer.

The startup is also working on commercial agreements with two of its investors, Liberty and TELUS, though Pike declined to share details on those plans.

IOTAS is adding two board members to its board as part of the investment, including TELUS president of security and automation Jason Macdonnell and Don Parsons, vice president at Liberty Global Ventures. The company’s other board members include Pike, former head of strategy at Nest Labs Tim Enwall, and Alison Andrew Reyes, a partner at 1843 Capital.

IOTAS previously raised cash from Intel Capital; Oregon Angel Fund; Rogue Venture Partners; the National Science Foundation; Creative Ventures; Oregon Best; Portland Seed Fund; and others.

Total funding to date is more than $17 million.

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