Spark Labs, the company that last year built a development board that lets people make connected devices that could connect to a cloud service, has raised $4.9 million to take its business to the next step. And according to Zach Supalla, the CEO and founder of Spark, that next step is the creation of a set of technologies to underpin the cloud side of the internet of things.
Spark has raised $4.9 million in Series A funding from Lion Wells Capital, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, SOSventures, and Collaborative Fund as well as a consortium of strategic angel investors. This funding comes after a successful Kickstarter project last May that raised almost $570,000.
Supalla wants to build Spark OS, which will consist of a messaging framework, data storage options, an application layer and then finally a management layer for connected devices. This began with the sale of physical hardware last year, but going forward the goal is to use the development boards as an entry point with broadly adopted products eventually buying their own components. The real focus will be on the cloud platform. This makes Spark closer to a company like Ayla Networks and LogMeIn — companies building cloud software.
Unlike Electric Imp, which also sells development boards (Imp modules are inside the Quirky connected products), Spark will separate its hardware and its cloud platform business, Supalla said when asked about the similarities between the two companies. Thus, the Spark Core boards are open source, using components that are available for everyone.
Supalla believes that by launching the development boards initially to the maker community he has tapped into the people who are also building products for big-name companies investigating the internet of things. “People don’t make distinctions between professional and DIY programmers,” said Supalla. “In many cases a programmer who codes at work also writes code at home, so this idea that people who play with hardware — or makers — are completely different people seemed false.”
With the launch of boards, he’s introduced a bunch of engineers to the Spark platform and is now building it out to the needs of bigger-name clients aiming to connect their devices online. It’s a pretty competitive field, but it’s also so new that the opportunity feels fairly limitless, since everyone is basically throwing connectivity at products just to see what sticks. For more on Spark, check out my interview with Supalla on the Internet of Things podcast this week.