Japan’s Novars lands $1.2M to get anything battery-powered under control with ‘smart’ coppertop



See the original story in Japanese.

In a crowdfunding campaign back in November, the MaBeee dry cell-shaped IoT (Internet of Things) gadget raised more than $60,000, over 12 times the initial target. Tokyo-based Novars, the hardware startup behind the gadget, announced on Tuesday that it raised 120 million yen (or about $1.2 million) from Nissay Capital and Mizuho Capital.

For Novars, this follows their previous funding of an undisclosed sum from Inclusion Japan in a seed round. The company claims that it will use the latest funds to develop apps for and new models of the gadget as well as promoting their business by adding people for sales and marketing efforts.

MaBeee is an AA battery-shaped IoT device. By installing it into a dry cell-powered item, users can take a full control of the item using mobile via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). An example of use case is that putting the gadget into a Mini 4WD miniature model, where users can run or stop the model car by shaking their smartphone. The gadget has been available at Amazon.co.jp and other e-commerce platforms as well as major electronics retailers across Japan since this August.

Navars was founded back in April of 2015 by CEO Akihiro Okabe. He was previously working at Seiko Instruments, a leading precision machinery maker in Japan, where he was involved in defining the communication standard of BT-Watch, a generic name of intelligent watches connecting via Bluetooth. Navars has been running a cross-company community for innovation called Yamiken (or 100-day lab), where the MaBeee device was born out of a participating engineer’s wish to play the “Plarail” toy train track system with his child by remotely controlling it.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy