Latest Venture Funding Deepens Independa’s Ties with LG Electronics

1/2/13Follow @bvbigelow

Independa, the San Diego startup developing Web-based services for the elderly, says today it has closed its Series A financing at $5 million. In a telephone interview this afternoon, Independa CEO Kian Saneii says the round is more of a round-up that includes all of the company’s prior equity funding, the conversion of $2.35 million in debt to preferred stock, and more recent venture investments.

Independa did not provide details on the amount of its latest venture investments, which came primarily from existing investor City Hill Ventures, the boutique San Diego firm created by former Halozyme Therapeutics CEO Jonathan Lim, and LG Electronics USA, a strategic partner that has been integrating Independa’s cloud-based technology in its commercial flat-panel TVs under an agreement disclosed a year ago. Other undisclosed investors also participated.

Saneii says the funding will be used to grow Independa’s customer base through an expansion of its network of distributors and channel partners, as well as increasing investments in R&D, sales, and marketing.

Independa’s evolving alliance with LG Electronics could prove to be the most significant development for the company that Saneii founded in April 2009. Last month, Independa’s software-as-a-service also was named as the most innovative new product in the software category for 2012 by Connect, the regional nonprofit for entrepreneurship and technology innovation. In June, Independa said it was integrating its software with Qualcomm Life’s 2net Platform to make its elderly health monitoring services more broadly available.

Yet Saneii describes Independa’s alliance with LG as “a huge deal” for the company, saying, “the disruptive technology that we’re bringing to the market, together with LG, doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.” LG was included in the $2.35 million convertible debt financing that Independa disclosed in April (and was converted to stock under today’s announcement), “and they’ve stepped up with an additional investment,” Saneii says. “We’re very tightly integrated with them now from a technology perspective, from a sales perspectyive, and from a distribution perspective.”

Saneii says LG is one of the largest providers of commercial HD televisions for hotel and hospitality companies that operate retirement facilities that provide continuing care, assisted living, and skilled nursing services for the elderly. Independa’s deal with LG means that all commercial TVs that LG provides to a hospitality customer would come embedded with Independa’s Web-based social-engagement platform, dubbed “Angela.”

Once activated, Independa’s software-as-a-service would run behind conventional TV programming. It would display reminders for elderly viewers to take their medications and alert them if a relative or caregiver wants to chat by video or instant messaging. Independa’s system also enables elderly customers to use Facebook, Skype, online calendars, e-mail, and other online social services, with no computer skills required.

“We’ve brought cloud-computing technology into the standard TV,” Saneii says. “It turns the TV with our application on it into a touch-screen computer. What we’ve done with LG Electronics has changed the game for the elderly.”

In today’s statement, Nandhu Nandhakumar, a senior vice president with LG Electronics, says, “As we continue our collaboration to integrate the Independa platform in our market-leading commercial TVs, we are forming a stronger alliance by making strategic investments in the company. Our investment in Independa is in line with our belief that Angela is an ideal complement to our Pro:Centric platform for delivering services that can have a direct, quality-of-life impact on seniors and provide peace of mind to their loved ones, while also making the jobs of their professional caregivers easier and more effective.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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