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Next Big Thing: An IoT product senses funding

BY HBSDEALER Staff

There’s no shortage of inventors and investors in the smart home space. And entrepreneurs have discovered the potential at the intersection of Internet and Things, or IoT.

Now knocking on the door of acceptance is a product called Notion, which made news recently by securing millions in funding from a group of investors. Notion describes itself as “the complete home awareness solution powered by an all-in-one IoT smart home sensor.”

Its $10 million in Series A funding was led by Draper Nexus and TransLink Capital, with additional participation from existing investors XL Innovate, Mesh VC and others, the latest round brings Notion’s total funding to approximately $15 million since its launch in 2013.

“At Notion, it’s our mission to build products and services that give homeowners peace of mind and ultimately empower them to live better, more present lives. That’s what complete home awareness means to us,” said Brett Jurgens, Co-Founder and CEO of Notion. “This additional funding will allow us to amplify our relationships with insurance companies, and we’re excited to work alongside these partners to build more positive connections with homeowners and reward them with reduced insurance costs.”

Notion points to its partnership with three of the top five home insurance providers in the country to offer a cost-effective loss mitigation system and home telematics solution. It will use the new funding to expand those existing partnerships, as well as pursue new relationships with leading property insurers. The capital will also support product development and manufacturing, increased marketing efforts, and critical hires across the company’s engineering, data science and marketing departments.

Home monitoring solutions come in two basic flavors, in the Notion world view: traditional, expensive security companies that require a hefty monthly fee and long-term contract, or more complicated DIY solutions that are limited to a single use.

Notion paints its program as low-cost and easy-to-install. Each sensor is identical and multi-functional, which means homeowners can place them in different spots around their home depending on what they care about — from doors opening and closing, to monitoring temperature, to detecting water leaks or a sounding alarm.

In addition to leading the round, Mitch Kitamura, Managing Director at Draper Nexus, and Toshi Otani, Co-Founder and Managing Director at TransLink Capital, will join the Notion board of directors.

“By putting Notion into homes across the country, insurance companies have unlocked an opportunity to positively engage with mainstream consumers via smart home technology,” Kitamura said. 

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Sears cutting jobs; key digital exec to leave

BY Marianne Wilson

Sears Holdings is reducing headcount as part of its ongoing effort to deliver $1.25 billion in annualized cost reductions. It's also losing a key online executive.

Sears is eliminating some 400 full-time jobs at its corporate offices, in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, and from its support functions. In addition, certain positions at the chain's field operations will be impacted. The eliminated jobs represent less than half a percent of the 140,000 full-time and part-time employees Sears had as of the end of January.

In other news, Stephan Zoll, president of online, Sears Holdings, is stepping down from the company, effective June 15, Sears said Tuesday in a separate 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Stephan joined Sears in June 2016, coming from eBay Germany where he had served most recently served as VP of eBay Marketplaces.

As previously announced, Sears'  strategic restructuring program is designed to deliver $1.25 billion in annualized cost reductions. To date, the retailer said it has made about $1 billion in annualized cost savings to date, and remains on track to meet its target.

"We are making progress with the fundamental restructuring of our operations that we initiated in February," said Edward S. Lampert, chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings. "We remain focused on realigning our business model in an evolving and highly competitive retail environment. This requires us to optimize our store footprint and operate as a leaner and simpler organization."

Last week, Sears confirmed that it planned to close 66 additional locations on top of the 180 planned closures it had announced earlier in the year.  

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In Stores Now: Lowe’s Googles it

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Iris Smart Hub continues to be the heart of Lowe’s Iris network. And the Iris network has for years been the heart of Lowe’s smart home offering. But the Mooresville, N.C.-based home improvement giant has made room for more options in the connected-home space.

At an Idaho store this summer, three highly visible endcaps stood three in a row in the front of the store. The endcaps told three different smart-home stories with three different brands – Iris (of course), Nest, and Google.

The Iris endcap explains the value of Wireless DIY security. Nest highlighted its new Nest Cam Outdoor with the phrase: “Security has never looked so good.”

The most focused of the three endcaps belonged to Google’s Google Home Voice-activated speaker. Reminiscent of the white-space-rich Google home page, the endcap was as close to clutter-free as can be found in a retail environment. One speaker – and only one speaker – sat in the middle of the display, surrounded by simple messages and a lot of white space.  

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