When August Home raised its last big round nearly two and half years ago, the smart lock maker was targeting retail expansion. That’s still part of the plan for the company’s new $25 million Series C, but the real story of this latest round is increasing focus on its partnership program, August Access.
The service has already made some headway in the rental market, counting Airbnb and vacation rental site HomeAway among its major partners. The smart lock makes a lot of sense for those offerings, giving home owners and landlords the ability to generate temporary access codes remotely, for short stays.
The list of investors offers some insight into the kind of additional partnerships the company is focused on, moving forward. Along with familiar investment groups like Bessemer Venture and Liberty Mutual are Comcast Ventures and Australian utility company, AGL. The former has already begun offering August locks as part of Xfinity Home — the cable giant’s attempt to elbow in connected home offerings from the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google.
August CEO Jason Johnson tells TechCrunch that Access is still a fairly small portion of the business, with most of the company’s sales still arriving through traditional retail channels. But while it remains top dog in the smart lock space, it’s smart to explore these partnerships early on. Smart locks are a long ways away from saturation point, but unlike devices like smartphones, they’re unlikely to follow a predictable two-year upgrade cycle.
People replace their home fixtures much less frequently than they do their phone — that means that August can’t count on early adopters to continually upgrade. That’s especially true when the company makes it a point to continually upgrade the product’s firmware in an attempt to improve the experience long after the device has been purchased.
Partnerships with utility and cable companies, on the other hand, offer an avenue into home that don’t aggressively seek out the latest and greatest tech products. Comcast could potentially offer up an August lock as part of an all-in smart home bundle that also includes, say, a Nest thermostat.
Funds will also go toward developing new August products. “We have a pretty aggressive product roadmap,” says Johnson. “We’ll be introducing additional new products this year. There’s a significant amount of R&D required to produce new products.” The exec has promised more information on that front “in the weeks to come.”