Esper raises $30M Series B for its IoT DevOps platform – TechCrunch

2 Mins read

There may be billions of IoT devices in use today, but the tooling around the building (and updating) the software for them still leaves much to be desired. Esper announced today that it had raised a $30 million Series B round and built the tools to enable developers and engineers to deploy and manage fleets of Android-based edge devices. The round was led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from Madrona Venture Group, Root Ventures, Ubiquity Ventures, and Haystack.

The company argues that thousands of device manufacturers are building these devices on Android alone but scaling and managing these deployments comes with many challenges. The core idea here is that Esper brings the DevOps experience that software developers now expect to devise development. The company argues that its tools allow companies to forgo building their internal DevOps teams and instead use its tooling to scale their Android-based IoT fleets for use cases ranging from digital signage and kiosks to custom solutions in healthcare, retail, logistics, and more.

DevOps platform

“The pandemic has transformed industries like connected fitness, digital health, hospitality, and food delivery, further accelerating the adoption of intelligent edge devices. But with each new use case, better software automation is required,” said Esper CEO and co-founder Yadhu Gopalan, who founded the company with COO Shiv Sundar. “Esper’s mature cloud infrastructure incorporates the functionality cloud developers have come to expect, re-imagined for devices.”

Mobile device management (MDM) isn’t exactly new, but the Esper team argues that these tools weren’t created for this kind of use case. “MDMs are the solution now in the market. They are made for devices being brought into an environment,” Gopalan said. “The DNA of these solutions is rooted in protecting the enterprise and deploying applications to them in the network. Our customers are sending devices out into the wild. It’s an entirely different use case and model.” Esper offers a range of tools and services to address these challenges, including a complete development stack for developers, cloud-based services for device management and hardware emulators to get started with building custom devices.

“Esper helped us launch our Fusion-connected fitness offering on three different types of hardware in less than six months,” said Chris Merli, founder at Inspire Fitness. “Their full-stack connected fitness Android platform helped us test our application on different hardware platforms, configure all our devices over the cloud, and manage our fleet exactly to our specifications. They gave us speed, Android expertise, and trust that our application would provide a delightful experience for our customers.” The company also offers solutions for running Android on older x86 Windows devices to extend the life of this hardware too.

“We spent about a year and a half building the infrastructure,” said Gopalan. “Definitely. The hard part is creating a reliable, robust mechanism where customers can trust that the bits will flow to the devices. And you can also roll back if you need to.” Esper is working with hardware partners to launch devices with built-in Esper support. Esper says it saw 70x revenue growth last year, an 8x development in paying customers, and a 15x increase in devices running Esper. Since we don’t know the baseline, those numbers are meaningless, but the investors believe Esper is on to something. Current customers include the likes of CloudKitchens, Spire Health, Intelity, Ordermark, Inspire Fitness, RomTech, and Uber.

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