Business Type :

Enterprise software

Funding round :

Series C

Funding Price :

$40 million

To most observers, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a story of smarter things: fridges that tell you what to buy at the grocery store, lighting and climate control that anticipate user’s needs, or inter-connected machines that enable smarter and more efficient manufacturing.

For Particle, the story began in 2012 with a thing, a smart lightbulb, but has ended up with a focus on the connective tissue that makes IoT tech possible. 

Particle announced last month that it had raised a $40 million Series C funding round led by Qualcomm Ventures, the venture side of the $100 billion telecom hardware and superconductor company, and Energy Impact Partners, a cleantech investment fund backed by large utility operators. The round also included previous investors Root Ventures, Bonfire Ventures, Industry Ventures, Spark Capital, Green D Ventures, Counterpart Ventures, and SOSV, who have helped the company raise a total of $81.3 million to date. 

Particle provides a platform for companies to build IoT capability on top of, while also occasionally assisting with implementation. While this may sound abstract compared to making a smart thermostat, Particle believes that by selling a platform and offering implementation, it is solving the harder problem and leaving customers to work on the actual use of IoT in their products. 

Qualcomm and Energy Impact Partner’s investments seem to signal that they agree. Both make sense as a partner: Qualcomm makes money by providing the hardware behind the scenes of some of consumers’ most-used products and invests in platforms like Zoom, and Energy Impact Partners invests for a group that has a need for an overarching platform to manage a complex mix of technology.

We spoke to Particle CEO Zach Supalla and got a look at the deck that the company used to raise their Series C. Take a look at the full deck below.

The Startup Deck Slides

Particle's pitch deck has been through different iterations. The most recent deck made sure to explain the intricacies of what it does, so that potential investors wouldn't be lost later on.

Supalla had spent enough time explaining exactly what Particle does at the end of a pitch. "If I didn't explain what we do in depth first, then I found myself often in cases where the investor that I was talking to was missing me on what Particle even does," he said. This deck made sure to explain exactly where the company fits into IoT. Supalla thinks that this is a shared problem in new industries. In Particle's case, potential investors were confusing what Supalla does with what Supalla's customers do, and thought they were investing in smart consumer technology.

This slide explains what exactly Particle does now by telling the company's story, from a failed Kickstarter campaign to its current approach.

Supalla founded what would become Particle in 2012 with a failed Kickstarter campaign. Under the name Spark, he was pitching a connected light bulb that could fully integrate with technology. Supalla was interested in IoT after Nest's success in 2011, and got inspiration thinking about his father, who is deaf. Spark lights, the vision went, would be able to flash anytime his father got a text, or based on whatever inputs a user would like to use. After the funding wasn't successful, the company began to move towards its current state. At first, it created developer tools for IoT devices, but slowly began to move towards creating enterprise products. Supalla noticed a similar problem across the spectrum of IoT products. A lot of companies were solving the same problems, of connectivity and integration, over and over again. Particle could solve this problem, and then sell it to any business looking to bring their devices to IoT. Supalla compares Particle to AWS when explaining the company. Particle is selling IoT as an infrastructure, instead of a standalone product, in the same way that AWS sold cloud storage. This recent change in direction, begun in 2016, has brought the company 150% year-over-year growth, according to Supalla.

This slide identifies the problems that IoT devices could solve.

Think of this side as the proof of ROI. Any potential investor would want to know that the product is valuable to a potential customer. With two examples where IoT could be useful, the slide shows how expensive it is to remain "dumb."

This slide dives deeper into the dental compressor example as a way to explain the complexity of the problem, and the work that Particle does.

This slide explains why the centralized platform is actually so hard to create. There are almost 30 different processes between the actual dental compressor and the performance data output by Particle, from security to communication between the dental device and the IoT sensors to the software challenges of using the data.

This slide, superimposed over the previous, shows why IoT fails.

This slide implicitly argues that Particle's centralized and product-tested approach will keep IoT projects from failing, compared to manufacturing companies that attempt to build their own IoT software.

This slide is all about metrics

This slide provides some of the numbers that investors need to compare Particle to other potential tech investments. Beyond the numbers of messages sent, engineers using the product, and the amount of compiles on its platform, the Net Promoter Score is of great interest. Particle reports an NPS that is 20 points above the tech industry average, providing context for potential investors who are weighing other tech investments outside of the IoT space. The slide also features a quote from Stacy Crook, the Research Director for IoT at IDC, providing additional reference points for investors who aren't as familiar with IoT.

This slide is the first of two case studies in the pitch. This first study focuses on Watsco, the largest distributor of HVAC in North America.

Watsco, the largest distributor of HVACs in North America, is "the classic big company that nobody has heard of," according to Supalla. The company is "embedded in the value chain," buying AC units from manufacturers and selling them to installers. Particle often works with these sort of large businesses that are hidden from the consumer. Watsco worked with Particle to save money on AC maintenance. ACs tend to break on the hottest day of summer, leading clusters of ACs to break on the same day, according to Supalla. This leads to longer downtimes, and an inefficient process as maintenance workers will often have to come back two to three times to properly diagnose and fix a machine.

Particle was tasked with adding in sensors to the air conditioner to make maintenance easier.

With these sensors, maintenance teams can be notified as something breaks in an AC and what specific part is broken. Where they have previously needed to go to the machine to diagnose, leave to grab the correct parts, and then return to fix the machine, they can now diagnose remotely and bring the correct parts for the job. This same monitoring could even give signals that some parts were about to fail, making it possible to fix problems before the machine actually fails. These sensors are installed in new machines and can be attached to older machines, bringing both backwards and forwards compatibility,


The inclusion of Particle's platform made it significantly to repair and maintain a whole fleet of air conditioners remotely.

Particle's solution is "full stack," meaning that it provides everything from hardware to software and cloud integration.

This slide shows the range of what Particle can provide a business. While its core product is the platform that can run many different IoT use cases, it also provides hardware to connect devices to their platform, and offers business implementation for companies that need help designing how IoT will be actually used in the product.


This slide provides more context on Particle's suite of IoT services.

The second case study digs into a familiar consumer brand, Jacuzzi. This process took only six months from idea to market launch, and per the slide saved the company $2 million in predictive maintenance and grew average sales cost by six percent.

While much of Particle's business is in non-consumer industrial and manufacturing, it has also worked with consumer companies like Jacuzzi. Particle's partnership with Jacuzzi took six months from conception to market readiness. Particle was working to solve two problems with Jacuzzi's product: there was no indication when parts were failing or beginning to fail, and Jacuzzis have high energy costs. These costs led Jacuzzi users to either, eventually, leave their hot tub cold, or to pay to always have it on and running. Particle's solution on the maintenance side mirrored its solution with Watsco, providing remote monitoring of the health of components. This makes preventative maintenance more possible. The company also gave the Jacuzzis remote temperature control, reducing energy costs by allowing a user to leave their Jacuzzi cold and to heat up their Jacuzzi on the way home.

While this slide doesn't provide the total revenue, it gives a suggestion of what Particle's growth looks like.

The company has rapidly been moving toward enterprise work, shown by its growth from 20% of revenue in 2017 to 80% in 2019. This has been coupled with an (undefined) increase in revenue and a decrease in the time it takes for Particle to go to market.