Plum reports the money will allow it to manufacture and ship its flagship product, the Plum Lightpad, which allows homeowners to control their lights with their smartphone from anywhere.
The Austin-based startup is using CircleUp, an equity-based crowdfunding platform to secure its investment. It has also raised funds from angel investors and convertible debt. To date, the company has raised $5 million from about 50 investors with investment sums ranging from $25,000 to $250,000 said Glen Burchers, the company’s co-founder and chief marketing officer.
In addition, Plum, formerly Ube, raised $307,600 from 1,308 backers in April of 2013 on Kickstarter, to create WiFi connected smart light dimmers. Plum reports it ranks in the top 5 percent of technology startups in the U.S. for raising capital on crowdfunding sites.It has taken longer than expected to get the product to backers because the company was overly ambitious and didn’t have all the funds it needed for engineering and manufacturing, Burchers said. But Plum plans to begin shipping its light dimmer switches to customers at the end of this month. Only about 50 backers have asked for refunds, Burchers said. Plum took its first orders on Kickstarter and then through Amazon. It has more than $1 million of orders received so far, Burchers said. That’s about 10,000 units which Plum plans to ship to customers shortly, he said.
“We expect our backlog to be fully shipped in the October time frame,” Burchers said.
The company has yet to spend any money on marketing or advertising, Burchers said. All of its sales have been online, but it plans to branch out into retail stores like Home Depot, Office Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond and Target next year, he said.
Plum WiFi enabled smart light dimmers have received Federal Communications Commission certification and they have also completed UL testing, Burchers said.
“That we just passed last Friday,” Burchers said. “Those were two things that were significant hurdles for us.”
Plum has a manufacturing partner with operations in Carrollton, Texas and Shanghai, China. The initial products will be made in Texas, Burchers said.
Plum, with offices on North Lamar, has 16 full time employees, of which 14 are engineers. Since its founding in 2012, Plum has participate in both the Techstars and Microsoft Ventures accelerator programs.
Lighting control today is a $4 billion annual market in the U.S. but it only serves the really wealthy since lighting control systems costs about $20,000, Burchers said. The Plum product is bringing lighting control to the masses or the 27 million people who have homes in the $300,000 range, he said.
Plum’s Lightpad comes equipped with smart meters that can tell consumers how much they are spending on lighting for each connect fixture. And all of the functionality that is in the mobile app, which controls the light switches, is also in the switch, Burchers said.