Seattle-area startup Esper today announced a $7.6 million Series A investment round led by Madrona Venture Group.
Founded in 2018, Esper is a DevOps platform for customers that manage fleets of company-owned Android devices. The startup helps clients with development, deployment, and maintenance of devices and kiosks used across industries such as retail, logistics, transportation, and more.
Esper has more than 25 customers. The software is deployed on devices at Hyatt hotels and CVS pharmacies, and on worker devices for a grocery delivery company.
Esper CEO and co-founder Yadhu Gopalan is a 19-year Microsoft vet who led development of Windows CE and Windows Phone. Gopalan left Microsoft in 2013 for Amazon, where he built back-end technology for Amazon Go, FireOS, and AWS before launching Esper.
“I wanted to solve a problem that I kept solving at these big companies: how do we treat these smart edge devices more like servers?” Gopalan said.
Esper co-founder Shiv Sundar also worked at Microsoft on Windows Phone and left in 2012. Sundar then spent time at Quixey, Cyanogen, and Huawei, where he led global Android strategy.
Gopalan said Esper is a step above “MDM,” or traditional mobile device management tools sold by companies such as VMWare. “In a way we are the anti-MDM for these devices,” he said.
The company has about 30 employees at offices in Bellevue, Wash., the Bay Area, and India. Existing seed investors including Root Ventures, Ubiquity Ventures, Haystack Ventures, and Pathbreaker Ventures also participated in the Series A round. Total funding to date is $10.5 million.
“Deploying, monitoring and maintaining remote devices is a huge issue in the enterprise — everything from the bespoke point of sale tablets to exercise equipment run on Android,” Terry Myerson, venture partner at Madrona Venture Group, said in a statement. “And there is currently no system to easily develop, update or even know when devices are malfunctioning.”
Myerson, previously an executive vice president at Microsoft within the Windows and Devices Group, worked alongside both Gopalan and Sundar at the Redmond, Wash. tech giant. Myerson is now a board observer for Esper; Madrona Managing Director Tim Porter is a board member.