AGL has invested US$10 million in US-based smart home company August Home.
The energy company said the deal would enable ‘insight and access’ to new connected home technology, which it intends to bring to the Australian market.
“We know the connected home is a major area of interest for our customers and we’re focused on how we can give our customers greater control of their energy management. As we continue to innovate, we’re thinking of the home as a whole ecosystem – connected by smart technology. For us, this is just the beginning,” AGL executive general manager new energy, Elisabeth Brinton, said this morning in a statement.
AGL’s investment is part of the US$25 million August Home has raised in its Series C funding round, the rest coming from existing venture capital investors and a European private equity fund.
Since its last funding round in 2015 August Home has forged partnerships with Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Google, HomeAway, and Nest and claims to have the best-selling smart lock and 500,000 users.
Its main product is the August Smart Lock, which allows users lock and unlock their door remotely, create virtual keys for guests and keep track of who comes and goes with an app-based activity log.
That makes it especially useful for those renting out their property the company said. Another cited benefit is the ability to remotely open front doors to give package couriers temporary access.
According to August Home research, 69 per cent of package theft victims would rather let a delivery person into their home via an app, rather than be forced to have a package left outside.
“We see August Home as the front door of the connected home. It can help consumers improve their lifestyle, provide convenience and in-home security by enabling them to monitor what’s happening at their front door and manage access to their homes, all controlled via their smart phones no matter where they are,” said Brinton.
“Our investment provides us with an opportunity to participate in, learn and help shape the emergence of this new, exciting technology and bring it to Australian consumers.”
Connected home hardware tied to digital apps is a key initiative of AGL, outlined in its February interim results presentation.
AGL introduced its Solar Command monitoring app earlier this year, following an investment last year in New South Wales start-up Solar Analytics (although the roll-out has encountered some issues). The utility's smart meter app has been available since 2015.
"AGL has a proven track-record of leading change and innovation, making them a great partner as we advance our mission of helping people control access to their homes, enabling secure delivery of goods and services inside the home,” added August Home CEO Jason Johnson.
“This investment will allow us to capitalise on the opportunity ahead of us – to bring quality products and secure in-home delivery to the masses.”