Digital Lumens, one of the leading American startups offering networked LED lighting systems, has closed a Series C round worth $23 million to expand further into lighting markets outside the U.S.
The financing was led by Nokia Growth Partners, Aster Capital and Goldman Sachs, which have a deep view of the global marketplace, according to a company spokesperson. These investors joined Flybridge Capital Partners, Black Coral Capital and Stata Ventures, which also participated in the round and have collectively invested $25 million into the Boston-based company.
That brings Digital Lumens’ total venture raise to $65 million, making it the most capitalized of any startup developing networked LEDs. Enlighted, a California-based competitor developing its own sensors for connecting lights, is close behind with $55 million.
Digital Lumens' lighting system is based on a software product called LightRules, which connects sensors in LED fixtures with a learning algorithm. As the management platform learns the lighting conditions and patterns of occupants, the individual luminaires can make better choices about how to light a facility.
The company started out by targeting warehouses, cold-storage facilities and hazardous environments to replace high-intensity discharge lights. It has since expanded into warehouse-like retail environments. Earlier this year, Digital Lumens said it had deployed its systems in 100 million square feet of buildings.
So where is the opportunity outside the U.S.? Pretty much anywhere the company can set up an office. Because the economic payback for its systems is so fast -- a 90 percent reduction in energy costs means a consistent one- to two-year return for customers -- the company doesn’t worry about chasing incentives in specific regions. If there are big warehouses with lots of lights, there are opportunities.
“The economics begin with the facility and end with the region,” said Tom Pincince, CEO of Digital Lumens, in an earlier interview. “Increasingly, the regionality of the business is becoming less important as we look at customers across multiple countries and geographies."
In 2013, after raising $10 million for global expansion plans, the company reported that 15 percent of its business was overseas. Today, that number is closer to 50 percent, with systems deployed in 35 countries.
The next frontier for Digital Lumens isn't just expanding internationally. It's also expanding analytics. Leading intelligent LED startups, including Digital Lumens, Daintree Networks, Enlighted and CommScope, have talked about using their systems to provide deeper data about how buildings are performing. At this point, however, none of those companies have announced new analytics products beyond lighting.
Enlighted, which has developed entirely new sensors for lighting and other systems, is perhaps the closest to providing a building-wide analytics platform. The company is supplying its sensors to Hitachi for a building asset management system, developed in partnership with Oracle with Johnson Controls.
"We're still in the early days here. We're having private conversations with those who want to use it," said Pincince. "But we're still a way from announcing customers who are using [analytics beyond lighting]."