Today, we announced a $13.6M Series A raise. I thought I’d take a short break from the business of business building to share a few thoughts on the event.
Event may be the wrong word. As most seasoned entrepreneurs will tell you, the raise in and of itself is a non-event – it just means you sold a piece of the company to help you grow faster. In the most recent year, apx. 11,250 companies raised early rounds summing $117B, for an average round of $10.5M - so the fact that we raised an average-ish sized early round, along with 11,249 other companies doesn’t say a lot.
But who we partnered with, why they invested in us, and what we’re going to do with the cash is important, at least to us and to the 50+ companies we currently serve.
Why we chose Kleiner and Wen
With some big early customers like WeWork we were fortunate to see a lot of interest from the VC community, so we were very deliberate in choosing who we wanted to partner with here. That being said, Kleiner made it pretty easy for us. Wen Hsieh understood the real opportunity we were going for immediately – more on that later. More importantly, we knew he could help us get there, having helped other HardTech companies, like DJI, Bloom Energy, Aeye, Amprius, Crossbar, and Desktop Metal, in their early days. In order to create the quality of experience for our customers that we insist on, we knew early on that we were going to have to dive into the business of producing hardware to seed the market for our Proxy Signal, and Wen’s rolodex of manufacturing contacts and hardware expertise have proven invaluable in helping us produce the premier mobile reader on the market. And Kleiner’s partnership doesn’t stop with Wen – they have brought an entire team of folks, like Steven Hong and Nate Williams, to support Proxy with their HardTech and sector knowledge.
It’s also been great to continue our partnership with Y Combinator, who originally incubated Proxy back in 2016 and continued their investment in our Series A through their continuity fund. They’ve been like family to us and we’ve leveraged their sage advice extensively. We’re also excited to work with some new partners, like Coatue Management, who have joined the round as well.
Two years of preparation
A few years back, TechCrunch wrote a small article on our Seed funding round, and we were immediately overwhelmed with (a shocking amount of) interest from major enterprises, looking to deploy mobile access from a company that, at that time, had a very early product. What we realized is that we had tapped into a market that had a huge amount of pent up demand. That’s not to say that mobile access hadn’t been thought of before – it had, and pretty much everyone agreed they’d rather use digital identities via their smartphone versus keycards and fobs to access secured areas of the workplace. The market just hadn’t been served by any technology that provided the level of user experience and security that enterprises demanded.
That’s why we’ve spent the last few years in stealth, working with these enterprises to perfect the experience and ensure we’re meeting the security requirements of even the most stringent organizations. Over the last 18 months, Proxy has experienced a lot of firsts. We successfully completed our first global deployments, installing Proxy mobile readers in Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo and London. We’ve deployed Proxy at multiple Fortune 500 companies. Most importantly, we’ve seen the way users react to the technology. They genuinely love it – there’s an emotional reaction you don’t see from many technologies, and certainly not one you’d expect from an access control solution. Now, after two years of building, testing, deploying, and iterating, we’re excited that Proxy’s solution is GA so we can share that Proxy experience with everyone!
Transforming the workplace only starts with access
Proxy is solving real problems for the high end of the enterprise and commercial real estate market. Our solution is 100% compatible with their existing access control systems, so they can use Proxy for mobile access and identity without having to rip and replace years of investment and workflows built around their current systems. And they can deploy Proxy at any access point, whether it be a turnstile, elevator, door, gate, or garage.
This has proven a valuable proposition for all types of forward-leaning building occupants and owners – enterprises like Dropbox, coworking providers like WeWork, and corporate real estate owners and operators like Hines.
Our customers use Proxy to deploy mobile access across thousands of employees without having to create new credentials or enter them into a new system. They use Proxy to create consistent tenant and visitor access experiences across entire portfolios of buildings. They use Proxy to create global access across all their buildings around the world.
But the thing all of our customers have in common is that they see the value in Proxy’s identity signal way beyond access. They work with us because they want to create differentiated workplace experiences powered by Proxy’s identity and presence sensing capabilities. Experiences like concierge-level hospitality, automated conference rooms, and responsive workspaces.
We’re not doing this alone
Our mission of giving everyone on the planet a secure and private identity signal that they can use to control and personalize the physical world around them is one we know we cannot accomplish by ourselves. We’ve already begun partnering with leading companies like Allegion and others who are helping us bring our workplace solution to market. We’re also working with industry leaders across multiple sectors who are leveraging our to build imaginative new offerings that leverage Proxy Signal and Proxy Presence Aware sensing - offerings like passive tailgating alerting, data-driven building resource optimization, and automated workplace customization.
And, as they say, this is just the beginning. If you can master secure and private identity in the workplace, there are a whole lot of other spaces in the physical world that you can transform as well. And now, here’s my shameless plug (hey at least I saved it for the end) - if what we’re building sounds cool to you, we’re hiring, so check out our careers page and come join us.