You know you’re onto something when big-name entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson come knockin’ on your door with their checkbook in hand. And that’s exactly what’s happened to Ring, a startup that’s invented smart doorbell technology for your house.
The Santa Monica-based company has announced a $28 million Series B round led by Branson, Shea Ventures, and American Family Insurance, and follows on from its $4.5 million Series A round last December.
We first covered Ring way back in 2013 when it was known as Doorbot, which was essentially a doorbell with a Wi-Fi-connected camera that reveals a live video of who is at your door.
Since then, the company has rebranded and further developed the technology, with big-name retailers such as Best Buy, Home Depot, Brookstone, Target, and Amazon all selling the Ring contraption.
Ring’s video doorbell calls a user on their phone when it’s activated, which is particularly useful for when they’re away from home — so even if it’s an honest visitor, they can still converse with them from a remote location. But in terms of burglars, well, it seems a common technique is to ring a doorbell or knock to see if anyone’s at home. With Ring, someone is always “at home.”
Ring also recently launched Ring Chime, a small speaker that “chimes” when the Ring Doorbell is activated. And it has introduced motion-detection and a cloud-based video storage service, which the company says has already been used to help police identify burglars.
Richard Branson is no stranger to tech startups, having participated in a $30 million funding round of e-taxi startup Hailo back in 2013. But doorbells is a first. “What excites me about Ring is its efficient, convenient approach to crime prevention and home monitoring and also its entrepreneurial leadership team,” says Branson. “I’m speaking as both an investor and a very happy customer.”
Though the Branson brand is a major scoop for Ring, the other lead investors are notable, too. Shea Ventures, for example, is the venture capital (VC) offshoot of J.F. Shea Co., which operates Shea Homes — a major homebuilding company in the U.S. And American Family Insurance, too, will have a vested interest in Ring, potentially offering the service to its customers to reduce home insurance rates.
“These new investors are all leaders in their industries, provide a strategic benefit to Ring, and share our mission of reducing crime in communities,” says James Siminoff, CEO of Ring.