Afero raises $20.3 million Series A to unify the IoT

Ronny Kerr · May 18, 2016 · Short URL:

Powered by tiny Bluetooth-enabled module, Afero hopes to work with wide range of manufacturers

Startups are coming to unify the Internet of Things.

Afero, provider of a secure platform for the Internet of Things, today announced that it has raised $20.3 million in Series A financing led by Samsung Catalyst Fund with participation from SoftBank Group, Fenox Venture Capital, Presidio Ventures, Sanshin Electronics Co. Ltd., Robert Dobkin, and Assembly Partners.

The core piece of technology behind Afero is a Bluetooth-enabled "smart module" that manufacturers can embed into consumer electronics, appliances, industrial equipment, wearables, medical devices, or any other product that you could imagine fitting into the Internet of Things.

Afero’s technology was developed for over a year by a team that hailed from Apple, Amazon, Danger, and Nest, so they definitely had the chops for creating mobile and connected technology. Once the company went live in December 2015, it also announced partnerships with Murata, Infocom, and BANDAI NAMCO Studios—three different Japanese companies focused on manufacturing, IT systems, and video game publishing. That list alone demonstrates the potential versatility of Afero’s product.

“Our technology helps companies rapidly create and deploy connected products by automating the core embedded, mobile, and cloud development tasks,” said Joe Britt, CEO and co-founder of Afero, in a prepared statement. “Afero was designed to speed and simplify product development, whether companies choose to modernize a legacy product or create something entirely new.”

The company sees versatility as one of its key advantages. While partners can certainly create new products around Afero’s module, the technology is designed to easily connect and/or upgrade existing systems.

Afero plays in the same field as CUJO, a company that pitched at the Vator Splash Spring startup competition last week. There are some big key differences that demonstrate different approaches to the Internet of Things.

For one, CUJO focuses explicitly on a “smart firewall” designed to provide security to users’ various connected devices. Secondly, with a cutesy-looking white box with glowing LED lights, CUJO actually offers a real physical product intended to be purchased by consumers and placed in their homes like a router or modem. The box retails for $99 with a $8.99/month subscription.

It’s worth pointing out that a question posed to CUJO by the judging investors at Splash was whether going after consumers with a security focus was the right approach. Afero has taken a different route by developing a module that other companies embed into their connected devices. In this way, they plug into Afero’s platform.

Earlier this month, Afero announced that independent research firm Gartner had named the company to its list of Cool Vendors in the Internet of Things, 2016. Other companies that made the list included Area360 (creator of a mobile location technology platform), MachineShop (provider of API-based enablement and integration for the IoT), Senet (provider of an IoT network), and Zymbit (a data platform for the IoT).

Afero tells me it plans to use the new funding to expand its business reach and continue investing in product development.

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CUJO ( We have created a cloud-powered smart firewall to guard home networks against hackers and cyber criminals. While it's plug-n-play and super simple for anybody to use, it's also packed with business-level security features. CUJO retails for $99 with a $8.99/month subscription.

Why CUJO? Your home is your sanctuary. That's where we experience our most private moments, safeguard our most precious files, and experience peace of mind. Until now. With our homes full of connected devices we've become easy targets for criminal hackers. You read it in the news every day: baby monitors, smart TVs, tablets - all hacked. Even the FBI director now tapes his webcam so as not to be hacked at home. So ask yourself, with your home fully connected, what is the most precious experience or data that is now open to hackers? And what keeps it safe?

Why We're Different. Your Antivirus protects you against malware that was documented 60+ days ago. If a criminal is standing in front of your house and hacking your smart door, malware detection won't keep you safe. Traditional security solutions are outdated with cybercriminals creating new ways to reach into our homes every day. CUJO uses threat intelligence, machine learning, and cloud-computing to analyze your device behavior. When we see a threat - we block it. You will get a friendly notification on your CUJO app that your home is safe.