France has developed something of a name for itself as a center for IoT startups, and today another mover and shaker in the space is making some waves. Netatmo, a Paris-based designer of stylish connected home devices like smart thermostats and security cameras — think France’s answer to Nest — is announcing that it has raised €30 million ($32 million).
The funding is significant in that it is one of the biggest rounds of funding for a hardware maker in France this year (and maybe the biggest for an IoT hardware maker), but it is also led by a strategic investor.
Legrand, the France-based multinational provider of electrical and digital building infrastructure solutions, is leading the round; and according to Matthew Broadway, Netatmo’s COO, the investment will open the door to working with them on large building projects as a smart home technology partner. Previous investors Iris Capital, Bpifrance, Pascal Cagni and Netatmo’s CEO and co-founder Fred Potter also invested, with the founders remaining majority shareholders.
Founded in 2011, Netatmo’s first product was a personal weather station and air quality sensor — hence the “atmo” of its name.
The product was innovative and interesting enough to land the company just under $6 million in a first round of funding. But these days Broadway says that the weather station probably has less mainstream appeal than the subsequent devices released by the company: its thermostat, designed by no less than Philippe Stark; and its Welcome security camera, which was released earlier this year.
While there will be plans to bring out more products, Broadway said that for now it’s more likely that we will see more features added to these to help set them apart in what is a very crowded market for connected home devices, “where companies come and go before you even knew they existed in the first place,” as Broadway describes it.
Today, Nest — now owned by Google — may be the market leader in the U.S. for connected home devices that cleverly let you monitor and control settings by way of your smartphone, but the space is still relatively nascent and there is a lot of opportunity for everyone. And for now, “everyone” is a big group. Among the more prominent, European competitors closer to home include Tado and Withings (which was also co-founded by Fred Potter).
In Europe, Broadway claims that Netatmo leads in several countries for connected home devices, including France, Spain, Portugal and Germany. “We have a lot of scale already,” he said.
The funding will be used first and foremost for R&D in France to continue building out more functionality and more devices. But the company will also be ramping up hiring across different markets; and it will also be putting more investment into sales and marketing to get Netatmo’s name out there.
Netatmo, Broadway said, has had no problems attracting talent to come to Paris to work. That’s sometimes from other European startups like Parrot, but also from large electronics giants like Bose, French engineering giants and more.
There is also a growing ecosystem of IoT players in France that include Sigfox and Actility, both of which have raised substantial rounds this year.
Netatmo says it is not disclosing its valuation. “We don’t talk about it because if you start competitors can use it to back calculate all sorts of other things,” said Broadway. He also says for the same reason Netatmo is not going to give any hard numbers on revenues or unit sales. “But both are doubling annually,” he added.
The fact that Netatmo was founded and plans to remain in France (at least for now) is an interesting twist on the stereotype of Europe being a place where ideas may be hatched, but must be grown elsewhere because of lack of money, talent and general climate for nurturing startups into becoming large businesses. Broadway says that while Netatmo cast its net wide it was very happy to take investment closer to home.
“We’re proud to provide Netatmo, a French benchmark in connected devices for the home, the resources for continued strong growth. This link-up will facilitate potential future collaboration between both brands in developing connected and interoperable electrical and digital infrastructure products for professionals and the general public”, highlights Gilles Schnepp, Chairman and CEO of Legrand in a statement.
“We go to where the smart money is,” said Broadway. Smart money, and smart homes.