After $8.5M raise, KC-based Pepper eyes IoT dominance

From app-controlled toilets to smart egg trays, the world of IoT is rapidly expanding.

In fact, by 2020, it’s expected that more than 24 billion internet-connected devices will be online.

And now one well-heeled Kansas City-based IoT startup wants to serve as the hub for those gadgets.

After it recently raised a $8.5 million Series B round from a variety of area investors, Pepper CEO Scott Ford said that his firm’s operating system and service platform for IoT devices is set to rapidly accelerate.

Helping manage an ever-expanding world of IoT devices, Pepper is analogous to what Android’s operating system is to smartphones. Pepper sells its software to such enterprises as insurance, utilities and electronics firms to provide consumers centralized management of their IoT and smart home devices.

Via its tile-based interface, Pepper allows end-users to personalize the management of its IoT devices while streamlining the gadgets’ uses. For example, a user could control a smart thermostat, pay a bill and monitor a home’s energy use all from the same app.

Formerly known as PEQ, Pepper has evolved from a direct-to-consumer to a business-to-business model, which has resulted in solid traction, Ford said.

“We’re laser-focused on the user experience and we’ve separated ourselves from the crowd in IoT,” he said. “We’ve found really massive demand in what we’re doing. … There’s so much demand in the software and user experience side that we’ve shed everything else and designed our platform to be agnostic and work with any tech.”

Investors in Pepper’s recent $8.5 million round include Leawood Ventures, the KCRise Fund, Royal Street Ventures, OpenAir Equity Partners and Comporium Communications. The capital will be used to push the company’s new IoT products — Pepper Enterprise and Powered by Pepper — into new global markets.

Ford said that he was thrilled to see a variety of local investors support in his company’s vision. What’s more, he said that he’s excited to see more area investors become interested in Kansas City startups.

“I couldn’t be more happy about where Kansas City is going with its investor community,” Ford said. “I’ve been an investor in Kansas City since 2005 and I’m really seeing a development through the efforts a lot of people. … One thing that I’ve seen change is the inclination of investors to understand and deal with risk capital, which is what this is. We decided to focus on KC for the raise and felt good about it. But I had no idea the level of interest, sophistication and intelligence that local investors have and the ability for them to know what we’re doing and get behind us.”

Founded in 2014, Pepper now has 15 staff members and is located in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza.

Original Article: