Talking with tech investors recently, The Verge has heard the same thing again and again: hardware startups are hot right now. You only need to look at the most recent graduating class from the prestigious Y-Combinator program, which featured a record six companies focused on hardware instead of apps or the web.
One of those graduates was Double Robotics, maker of a iPad-powered telepresence device. The company announced today it has raised $250,000 from Grishin Robotics, an investment firm from created by Dmiitry Grishin, the Russian billionaire who founded his nation's biggest email company, Mail.ru. "Grishin was a perfect investor because they have the same mission as us," said Double Robotics founder David Cann. "We believe that robotics technology has reached a tipping point where it's possible to bring highly functional devices to the mass market at a reasonable price. It's a massive opportunity."
So far Double Robotics has sold more than $1.2 million of its telepresence devices, the Double, and is currently receiving about $100,000 in new orders each week. The device uses a pair of iPads: one sits in the self-balancing base, the other serves as a remote control. Double Robotics' app will let you control the robot — rolling it about and adjusting its height — while the iPads' front-facing cameras stream everything the robot sees, and allow you to interact with passersby. The new funding will allow the company to meet the increasing demand and expand its team. "We just hired our first two employees this week," says Cann. "It's been tough to keep up."