Indiegogo and Arrow will be choosing one more flash funding recipient in the month of October. Sign up now to join campaigners like Brad Holland of Kordbot and the Noria team in winning game-changing funds, engineering resources and tools, discounts, and personal guidance from experts.
This week, we are excited to announce that Andy Karuza and the FenSens team have won $75,000 in flash funds from Arrow Electronics. The FenSens team hopes to transform the automotive industry by making new car technology affordable, simple and easy to use for everybody.
When Henry Wong approached Andy with the idea for a parking sensor, they knew that the automotive Internet of Things (IoT) industry hadn’t taken off yet and the timing was perfect. The team went on to present, and win first place, at Startup Weekend.
With this confidence boost, they began to do research around parking sensors to see if the technology already existed. The team found some shocking statistics. They knew that parking sensors were highly sought after by consumers but what they didn’t know was the scale of problems caused by not having one.
“There are over $6 billion in damage a year from backup incidents alone,” says Andy. “There are over 15,000 injuries in the US alone from people backing up when they can’t see behind them.” He thought, well most cars these days have sensors anyway right? Wrong. “Still today 40% of the vehicles coming off the assembly line don’t have parking sensors, just because it’s too expensive at the manufacturing level,” according to Andy. From the reaction at Startup Weekend to this market research, the FenSens team knew they were on to something.
“The more research we did, the bigger we saw this problem really was,” says Andy. “And I just kept thinking, how has no one thought of this before?”. The team identified the two issues with adding parking sensors to cars: it’s really expensive and it’s difficult to install. But the FenSens team knew if they solved those two issues, they’d be on the way to redefining the automotive product industry.
They came up with an easy to install parking sensor that goes on the license plate frame. The FenSens uses the same sensors you get in new cars today, that use ‘ultra-sonic’ technology to detect objects in the car’s blind spots. “We wanted to design a completely seamless experience where people could buy the product at an affordable price and install it themselves,” says Andy.
Once the team did their market research and had a fully working prototype, it was time to validate it. For the last year and a half, the team had been funding the project from their own pockets. “We decided to do an Indiegogo campaign and see if the market thinks that the problem we are solving is a big deal and that we have the solution needed to solve that problem,” says Andy.
Launching a crowdfunding campaign gave the team a chance to test the market before diving fully into production. “Indiegogo is really good at helping you connect with early adopters, getting product feedback and putting yourself out there,” says Andy.
The FenSens team received a lot of questions about the product that helped shape what it is today. The ongoing dialogue from the customers also helped the team understand what issues are important and what they see as valuable. It not only gave them ideas going forward for new product lines and how to improve their existing product, but also about how to market their product in a certain way.
In addition to raising funds and awareness, joining the Indiegogo community has given FenSens access to the Arrow Certification program. This program has allowed the team to work directly with the Arrow engineers. Andy stresses the importance of having an American-made product, for brand recognition and for keeping jobs and money in the U.S.. Arrow is partnering with FenSens to help make this happen. Arrows experts provide Andy and his team with information on where to source American-made components that are high in quality and at an affordable price. “This kind of input, as you ramp up for production, is priceless,” Andy says, “Arrow is very helpful in finding us the right parts and components to make this [creating an American made product] happen.”
The Arrow team has awarded FenSens $75,000 in flash funding to help support the product. These flash funds have helped previous campaigners in a variety of ways, from shipping and delivery costs of a product to prototyping. Andy says they are currently raising a round of seed funding which will give the product the confidence boost it needs for this process: “Being able to show the faith of Arrow and Indiegogo speaks volumes for us in this process. It’s a different story when you walk into an investment meeting and show them you believe in us by giving us a $75k grant.”
The campaign allowed the team to raise funds to deliver the product, but not enough to run a full business. These flash funds will allow the team to pursue additional patent work, marketing and ‘vital things needed to run a business,’ according to Andy. “This moment is very pivotal – these funds will pivot this product from an idea to a full-fledged business. We are so excited that Arrow and Indiegogo have given us this opportunity.”
Indiegogo and Arrow will be choosing one more flash funding recipients in the month of October. Sign up here for your shot at game-changing funds, engineering resources and tools, discounts, and personal guidance from experts.