Hardware Startup Augury Nails $7 Million Series A Round
Publication: Wall Street Journal
When large air-conditioning units and other equipment malfunction, building owners can face significant financial consequences. Startup Augury Inc. says it has figured out a way to troubleshoot machine problems early by listening to the sounds they emit.
Venture firm Formation 8 used its new hardware-focused fund to lead a $7 million Series A round for the startup, Augury Chief Executive and co-founder Saar Yoskovitz told VentureWire. Pritzker Group, a family office that has large real estate holdings, is also investing, as well as returning backers First Round Capital and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.
The company, with offices in New York and Haifa, Israel, makes a small device that can be used by maintenance personnel. A technician places the device on a machine, such as a chiller or pump, connecting the two via a magnet. The device, which contains ultrasonic sensors, records the vibrations and other sounds the equipment makes. It then sends the information to Augury’s servers that analyze it and spit back a diagnosis, such as that the machine needs more oil or a bearing replacement, to a smartphone app.
“Malfunctions have unique patterns that we learned how to recognize. We are building the largest malfunction dictionary in the world,” Mr. Yoskovitz said.
He said that the idea of analyzing sounds to diagnose a machine problem isn’t new. Think of a car, for example, and how mechanics listen to the squeaks it makes to figure out what is wrong. But the company has figured out a way to create a hand-held device that can do what’s usually done by expensive equipment. The company is also automating the analysis of data, which was previously only understood and interpreted by well-trained engineers.
“The business model is based on the data and how you process it,” said Lior Susan, partner at Formation 8 who is joining Augury’s board.
Augury will have to persuade customers that it is worth investing in its service that helps identify problems early. It is unclear how willing they would be. The poor state of infrastructure overall in the U.S. speaks to the low levels of willingness, in general, by society in investing in preventive maintenance. Another challenge is that many building owners already have some monitoring equipment that alerts them to an air-conditioning unit that is using more energy than usual, for example, which often points to problems. Augury already signed a multimillion-dollar contract with an HVAC services company, according to Mr. Susan, partner at Formation 8.
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