Hoopo, an Internet of Things geolocation startup, today announced a $3.5 million funding round from Chartered HighTech JIHTV1 fund, TAU Ventures and Global IoT Technology Ventures.
The round brings the total amount the three-year-old company has raised to $5 million. It will use the money to expand its target markets in North America and Western Europe and also to grow its headcount, which now stands at 15 people.
Hoopo’s geolocation technology addresses a challenge facing companies that want to digitally monitor goods as they move through the supply chain. Unlike the mobile internet (i.e., smart phones), the IoT space is ill-suited to GPS tracking devices, which can be expensive to use and awkward to install. They also use large amounts of battery power.
“If you end up recharging devices every two days, you stop charging them and stop using them,” said CEO Ittay Hayut, who spoke to FreightWaves from the company’s home base in Israel. “We wanted to develop a technology that could do tracking without GPS.”
Hoopo is not alone in this regard. Lots of startups as well as established companies are trying to crack the IoT geolocation nut.
Hoopo’s niche are low-power solutions that work across a big area, like airports or large warehouses. Its technology utilizes what is called “low-power wide area” (LPWA) networks, a type of wireless telecommunication designed to allow long-range communications at a low bit rate among connected objects.
“What we’ve developed is the ability to track IoT sensors using LPWA communication,” said Hayut, who co-founded Hoopo after he and another founder encountered technology challenges while trying to track their dogs.
“You don’t need to install anything on the device itself,” Hayut added. “We can check the device through the data it transmits over the network.”
Although the cost of deployment varies, LPWA infrastructure expenses are negligible, and the cost of the devices “could be extremely low,” Hayut said. “With batteries that last several years, the price differential that we profit from is several dollars per device per year.”
To date, Hoopo has launched two products – a tracking solution for non motorized ground service equipment in airports, and an end-to-end tracking and monitoring solution for the supply chain.
In a press release announcing the funding round, Hiro Mori, general manager of the Israel Development Office at Toshiba of Europe Limited, said: “For a while now, we have been searching for an ultra-low-power tracking solution that is capable of providing high accuracy for our various use-cases. We are happy to have identified Hoopo as an ideal solution for our clients.”
In the coming weeks, Hoopo will announce two more big partnerships, Hayut said, one in the supply chain space and one in aviation.
The startup’s geolocation tech yields environmental as well as economic benefits, he emphasized. As an example, 30 to 40 percent of the food transported in North America gets thrown away before it hits the supermarket shelves, he said, either because it gets lost in transit or languishes in the sun or in a refrigerator that stops working.
”For most assets, there is zero visibility – no one knows what happens in the supply chain, whether on sea, air or land,” said Hayut. “So we are digitizing the supply chain space. We think we will revolutionize the way logistics is being done nowadays to a place where it’s doing better for the planet and not just customers themselves.”