Recon Instruments is on a Roll with New Funding from Motorola Solutions

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“It’s so tough to make a prototype in this space. You need money.” Said Recon Instruments co-founder and CEO Dan Eisenhardt. Armed with only a PowerPoint presentation in 2008 Eisenhardt went to work. “We showed off a 12 person org chart, but really only Hamid and me full time, and nothing to show. But working with friends, ex-colleagues, a friend from engineering school, and a realtor that I met in a bar (still friends today), we raised that first $150,000 dollars. We’ve gone on to raise $20 million since, and will probably raise another $20 million next year.”

In September 2013 BetaKit covered their announcement about Intel Capital’s $4 million investment. The company announced today that Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI), through its strategic investment arm Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, has made an investment in the company.

While the funding details have not been disclosed, the company stated the money will be used to accelerate product development and to ramp up global marketing and distribution. “Our products are designed to deliver contextual visual information, instantly and hands-free, in the most demanding environments” offered Eisenhardt.

He added “As we extend our scalable smartglasses platform into industrial and public safety markets, we can leverage Motorola Solutions’ strength. They’re a global leader in ruggedized communication devices and data services. Being designed to perform in the most high-stress, high-focus situations imaginable, the synergy is clear and powerful.”

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The Recon story starts when a young Danish MBA student walks through the wrong door, and sees a slide of the Vancouver skyline. When no one else applied for an exchange program, Dan Eisenhardt lands at UBC by way of University in Australia. The first spark of the idea flickered as part of an entrepreneurship program, with engineers coming together with MBA students.

Eisenhardt says, “I got up and pitched this idea about a swimming goggle with a heads-up display. Having been a competitive swimmer, it was frustrating never knowing my metrics. You’re submerged with no access to data, but you need it more than anyone else because often winning or losing comes down to 100th’s of a second. Of course I had no idea what a heads-up display could do or what kind of information sensors could detect, but some of the engineers in the group were intrigued. In fact, that first group are still sitting here with me today.”

Four of the original six group members formed the company and are still together today. In spite of believing they had something cool, coming together around it still took time. In fact they dispersed after the project wrapped up in December 2006, even though the idea had already morphed from a swim goggle into a ski goggle back then.

Fast forward to December 2007, “after doing more technical reviews of the idea Hamid Abdollahi (Chief Technology Officer), calls me and says we should incorporate this company, and are you in? I was back in Denmark, so we Skyped back and forth until I came back to Vancouver 8 months later, to take on the CEO role and get down to the business of raising our first round of financing.”

“From the start we knew we couldn’t sell a decent company valuation on just a ski product. It was more than that, we looked at it as a platform. An instant information platform around sports. We knew we’d get into other goggle sports, and then sunglasses which would unlock cycling, running, sailing. Because of technology maturity and the smartphone revolution we would shrink down the technology, and the price points would come down. That’s exactly what’s happened! We took a bet on the future.”

Recon Instruments is a technology platform with a fast developing product strategy. “We’re in the process of picking strategic application partners such as Strava he added . We’re the aggregator. With a full bore 1GHz computer under your eye, we can stream anything there. It’s all about partners using our SDK.”

Eisenhardt added that he think’s BC being a natural testbed for the outdoors lifestyle should be a cluster for wearables. He shared “we want to be known for outdoor wearable technology, sports and fitness. If you’re a startup in this space you should come here.” As well, it’s a bonus that you’re wearing a Recon device for sports, so that you’ll also never get called a “glasshole.”

John Gray

John Gray

John jumped into the start-up world in early 2009. He was co-founder of Mentionmapp, a visual analytics company that was acquired in October 2011. John is Launch Academy's Program Facilitator, and is leading their Lean Entrepreneur Program. He's a freelance writer, focusing on keeping the humanity in our conversations about technology. John has a B.Ap.Sc. in Communications and a B.A. in English, both from Simon Fraser University.