Vognition (Oakland), the B2B startup that makes sophisticated natural-language voice controls for smart-home products, has received funding from the NJIT Highlanders Angel Network to the tune of $700,000, in two $350,000 tranches.
According to founder and CEO Michael Liguori, the startup received funding after reaching certain milestones, including a successful trial with a customer and the implementation of its system in that customer’s smart-home equipment. When a second customer came on board, Vognition began generating revenues.
The money from this funding round will go toward sales, Liguori told us in an interview. “Vognition really hasn’t had a sales budget. It’s all been about building the product before, with me doing sales. Now we will actually have a sales budget. We have someone we are going to hire and we are looking to pick up a second person.”
Liguori said that Vognition has identified 200 companies that could be in the market for its natural-language control system, for use in their smart-home products.
“We are looking for a sales person who knows the IoT space and knows a lot of companies within the consumer electronics space that wants to build smart-voice-enabled products. …We need to have someone with a real Rolodex, have relationships with people in that area. They have to be self-sufficient.”
Liguori added that he followed the advice of others, and didn’t “sweat the valuation.” The thing you need to really focus on is whether you “really like the angel you are talking to, and whether or not that chemistry works, because it’s a long-term relationship. … Don’t let the valuation cloud your judgement.” Michael Ehrlich is the NJIT Highlanders “angel” working with Vognition now.