South African IoT-based security startup Sentian secures funding

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South African startup Sentian, which has developed an Internet of Things (IoT)-based home security system, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to help it double down on marketing and expand internationally.

Founded in 2013 by seasoned engineers Tigue Little and Trevor Lewis after they were both personally affected by home break-ins, Sentian has developed a cloud-connected, Edge-based, IoT smart hub that links a user’s existing intruder alarm, CCTV and automation together, making them smart and easy-to-control, and allowing them to do things they could never do individually. 

The startup’s smart hubs are installed at a customers’ property by security installers, and connected to the alarm, CCTV and automation systems. The property owner interfaces with their Sentian system using the Sentian web and mobile app.

“The aim was to bring intelligence to security and to cater for South Africans’ security concerns and constraints. We also wanted to build intelligence that didn’t require an entirely new and costly rip-and-replace system,” Little told Disrupt Africa.

Sentian, which first raised funding in early 2016 when it was backed by WooThemes co-founder, and increasingly active angel investor, Mark Forrester, has been building out its tech platform in recent years and has now secured an undisclosed amount of investment from Imfezeko Investment Holdings.

The investment will enable Sentian to evolve and add to its existing platform, allowing it to both expand its current market reach, as well as gain access to new market opportunities. The startup, which was last year selected to take part in the fourth edition of the Grindstone Accelerator, sells and installs units nationwide, but predominantly in Gauteng and Western Cape, and Little said it wanted to expand both within South Africa and into other African countries.

The startup experienced rapid growth over the course of 2018, with revenues swelling by 400 per cent on the previous year. 

Although Little said market conditions had made the first half of 2019 challenging, Sentian had already met and exceeded 2018 revenues in 2019 to date.

“Sentian empowers property owners to take back control by essentially placing a virtual control room in their pockets. When your alarm is triggered a 12-second video verification clip is sent immediately to your phone. Sentian knows exactly which motion sensor was activated and uses the corresponding camera coverage to accurately inform you of what happened,” he said.

The company services both residential and commercial clients, and generates almost 50,000 push notifications per month to many hundreds of users. 

“The average property is accessed remotely almost three times per day, and we are extremely proud of our extraordinary customer retention rates,” Little said.

“Sentian not only removes the often scary guesswork, but it also allows remote investigation and control through the Sentian mobile app, so property owners can respond appropriately to an event, as if they were actually on site, from anywhere in the world. Let your armed response team enter the estate via automated door access, turn on lights and watch them walk around the house on your cameras.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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