Many of you are familiar with the story of Romotive. This was the company that was building iPhone controlled robots in a mini assembly line in the founders’ apartment at the Ogden in Las Vegas. Of course if you’re familiar with Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project or the Vegas Tech Fund you know that the Ogden building is entrepreneur and founder central.
Romotive has been making all the right moves. In the summer of 2011 the then three person company participated in the TechStars Seattle cohort. After that they launched a Kickstarter campaign to get their robots into the hands of backers.
It was that Kickstarter campaign that caught Hsieh’s eye. The story goes that Hsieh received the weekly email from Kickstarter highlighting some of the projects raising money at the time and Romotive was one of them. Hsieh reportedly liked their three minute video and actually knew a friend of theirs who was staying on his couch.
Hsieh is big on referrals in fact you can’t get a meeting with Hsieh or the Vegas Tech Fund without having a referral from inside the network. But like other tight knit organizations, once you’re in you’re in.
After Hsieh participated in a $1.5 million dollar round in December of last year the team relocated to their current home at the Ogden building. Business Insider reports that the team has grown to 18 and they are all living, playing and building robots together.
That’s all going to change now though as Romotive has just closed a $5 million dollar Series-A round. With that round the company plans on adding a few more employees and shifting production to a factory in China. According to Geekwire, the round was led by Sequoia Capita with CrunchFund and SV Angels participating among others.
On top of the $5 million dollar round Romotive has gone back to Kickstarter to raise another $100,000 from the community. As they report in their Kickstarter pitch they are looking to broaden the robot by creating more apps and the $100,000 will be used to start that development program.
Romotive isn’t the first smartphone controlled robot startup to catch the eyes of David Cohen and the TechStars team. Orbotix, the Boulder based creator of the “Sphero” ball, accelerated at TechStars Boulder and had Brad Feld as one of their main mentors. Feld went on to participate in Orbotix seed round via his Foundry Group. Orbotix has grown up big time as well. They recently announced a partnership for distribution in 1200 Target stores just in time for the holidays.