SmartThings raises $3 million to Net-enable your house

Worried that your kids are getting into the liquor cabinet while you're away? A startup hopes remote control and monitoring will ease your mind.

Jeff Hagins, SmartThings founder and CTO
Stephen Shankland/CNET

PARIS -- SmartThings, a startup that wants to bring remote control to everything from lights to liquor cabinets via the Internet, announced it's raised $3 million in first-round funding.

At the LeWeb conference here, SmartThings founder and Chief Technology Officer Jeff Hagins said investors included First Round Capital, which led the round, along with SVangel, Lerer Ventures, A-Grade Investments, CrunchFund, Start Fund, Max Levchin, David Tisch, and LeWeb founder Loic Le Meur. The company already raised pledges of $1.2 million through its Kickstarter project.

"The entire world is becoming programmable," Hagins said, and consequently, events in the online and physical world are linked. "When we interact with the physical world, the virtual world will also change in response."

The company is a proponent of the "Internet of things" vision that calls for much more than computers, tablets, and smartphones to be linked to the Net. It's trying to get its foothold through technology in people's homes.

SmartThings aims to bring a wide range of home objects online so people can control temperature, make sure the pet stays indoors, and get alerts about plumbing problems and fires. To do so, SmartThings will sell a central wireless control hub and remote-control hardware that can be added to things like doors and power outlets.

It's also working on developer tools, both a simpler Web-based option and a more powerful one that will run on personal computers. The idea is to let people control their homes using smartphones and other devices.

Such home automation in the past has appealed to a limited techie audience, but Hagin's aiming for something broader. To do so, making the technology easy is crucial.

"We have to be able to take a kit out of the box and get real tangible value out of that within five minutes," he said. "It has to be easy for consumers. It has to resonate with them in terms of the problems they're solving, but be easy to use."

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