Melbourne-founded company AirBolt, whose GPS-powered travel locks are sold worldwide, has today announced a funding milestone to fuel further growth by securing $2 million in a seed round backed by a majority growth investment led by 72Capital and Moat Investments.
The deal follows a $1.4 million crowdfunding campaign in 2020 supported by pre-orders for a new product - AirBolt's keyring-sized smarter global GPS tracker that looks like something between a garage door opener and a guitar pick, and can be used to track anything from bags to pets.
"Nothing really compares to what we’re building with the AirBolt GPS in terms of battery life, size, feature set and global operability," says AirBolt founder Kabir Sidhu.
"We knew GPS tracking was a big market and that current solutions like Bluetooth trackers had their limitations, but I think we underestimated how much it truly matters to people.
"Even in a segment like Pets for example, it’s estimated that 10 million pets go missing per year in the US alone and when you think about it, if we can solve the heartache of losing your beloved family dog, that's huge, and it’s a mission that helps us realise what we’re doing is really meaningful."
The success of this new GPS product helped Sidhu to realise that it was time to scale up the company, raise the seed capital and build out the team after years of running the company as a successful sole founder.
"I guess we’re a bit of an anomaly in the hardware world, we’ve been profitable since the early days and never raised any outside capital previously thanks to our amazing KickStarter backers, but it was definitely time now to set our sights on becoming the best tracking and smart access company in the market," he says.
"That’s the opportunity we have in front of us now."
Sidhu founded the company in 2015 after forgetting the combination to his lock on a trip to the US, which made him realise it may be possible to develop a more convenient product than the standard locks on the market.
"After a long flight I got back to the hotel and couldn’t remember the combination to my travel lock. It took nearly 45 minutes of going through 001, 002 to finally stumble upon the right code and I started to think there’s gotta be a better way," he says.
This seemingly simple innovation led to a successful KickStarter in 2015 for the AirBolt travel lock that’s since gone on to sell over 60,000 devices worldwide and the product being used in a range of originally unintended ways to protect bikes, manage access for key boxes to Airbnbs, and by enterprise customers.
And while COVID-19 sent the travel industry into a hiatus last year, a strong track record and customer base helped Sidhu launch the GPS tracker with the most successful GPS campaign on any crowdfunding platform.
AirBolt is now scheduled to deliver the GPS units later this year and will continue to grow their US and European presence through their distribution and key hires.
"It’s a fortunate position to now be in, and we’re excited to help deliver people a better way to protect and track things that they care about," Sidhu says.
72 Capital managing director Kathrin Mutinelli says what Sidhu has built at AirBolt is testament to the grit and determination that you really need to succeed as an Australian company on the world stage.
"We couldn’t be more thrilled to back Kabir and the team at this stage of growing their tech-savvy SaaS-enabled ecosystem of devices," Mutinelli says.
"We look forward to working with them long-term as they continue to deliver the very best products in this important market."
The technology that underpins easy-to-use GPS mapping as we know it today was developed by Where 2 Technologies in Sydney, and sold to Google in 2004 to form the basis of Google Maps which was launched the following year.
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