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BRCK, a Kenyan startup that spun out of pioneering crowdmapping outfit Ushahidi, has revealed a $1.2 million seed funding round to support the rollout of its rugged router, the shipping date of which BRCK finally announced earlier this week.
The $199 BRCK router, which I covered all too briefly back in February, is designed for use in harsh environments with patchy connectivity. It can use Ethernet, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband as sources (and hop automatically between them as needed); it’s dust-resistant; it has a built-in battery to cope with blackouts; it’s impervious to power spikes and it’s generally built like, well, a brick. Oh, and it can also act as a hub for internet-of-things sensors.
The round announced on Wednesday was led by Invested Development, which said in a statement that the BRCK would aid broadband penetration “in Africa and beyond.” Other investors include Omvestments and Urban.us, among others. BRCK also raised over $170,000 in a Kickstarter campaign last year.
The parts are sourced from Asia and the routers are ultimately assembled in the U.S., but the design and engineering side all took place in Nairobi, making this a rare case of an African hardware startup that has ambitions to sell across the world. If the BRCK story takes your fancy, co-founder Erik Hersman wrote an interesting blog post on Tuesday detailing the project’s genesis. The company also said in a post on Monday (entertainingly titled “Shipping bricks”) that the first shipments will take place on July 17.