Tile is the little tracker that gave every forgetful person hope that they could find keys and wallets as easily as “Find my iPhone” turns up their phones.
And after shipping more than 300,000 devices since it began in May (that’s a lot of lost keys), the company is now announcing $13 million in funding from a long list of investors.
Tile is the tiny tracker that links to a mobile app, and it’s seen a lot of buzz ever since it was announced last summer. You can attach the tracker to virtually anything, and thanks to Bluetooth low energy, you can track it with your phone. It’s basically a more modern and arguably better version of those beeping keychains you could once get to help you find lost keys under the couch cushions.
“We’re basically ridding the world of lost items and doing that by selling a low-cost solution,” Tile cofounder and chief executive Nick Evans told me in an interview.
Now that the company has about $9.5 million in new funding — the other $3.5 million came from Tencent last October — it’s obviously going to use a good portion of it to meet its inventory demand. Evans told me that since launch, people have ordered more than 500,000 Tiles. And since 300,000 have shipped, my math says that it still needs to send out about 200,000. Good thing it has the new money. Tile is even hoping to eventually be able to do next-day shipping by Black Friday in November.
But the other chunk of Tile’s new funding will go towards making Tile available to Android users. First up, Tile will make its product compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and gradually roll it out to more Android devices.
“We’re dedicated to building a product that works every time you need it. Part of that is making sure that the secondary device works exactly as expected with Tile,” said Evans.
“It’s really tempting to say, ‘Ok, Android is all the same, so let’s do all the devices at once,’” he said. But because Tile is not just an app that communicates with something through the Internet — it uses Bluetooth low-energy — the company wants to make sure it perfectly syncs with each device’s hardware.
The Galaxy S5 is the most popular Android phone that has Bluetooth low-energy, according to Evans, so that’s why it’s Tile’s first target.
Along with just wanting to enable as many people as possible have access to Tile, the company wants to get to Android because the more users it has, the stronger its network becomes. Part of how Tile works is by creating a network of phones that can communicate with nearby devices. If a Tile isn’t close enough to any enabled phone, it won’t appear in the network and its owner won’t know where it is. So adding Android users into the network means a denser network to help fish out Tile-equipped items.
The company is also already working on the second version of its gadget, although Evans declined to tell me about the new features and functionalities it will have. He did, however, stress that the larger and denser Android user network would be key to these new features.
GGV Capital led the new round of capital, with additional participation from Tandem Capital, Nick Woodman (GoPro), Rothenberg Ventures, Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures (Yahoo), Dave Morin’s Slow Ventures (Path), Charles Huang (Guitar Hero), Chris Hulls (Life360), Bob Lee (Square), and Mike and Kass Lazerow (BuddyMedia) among others. The first $3.5 million raised in October came from Tencent. GGV Capital’s Jeff Richards is also joining Tile’s board of directors.
Tile was founded in 2012 by Nick Evans and Mike Farley and is based in San Mateo, Calif. The company previously raised $2.68 million through its crowdfunding campaign last summer.
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