Hardware company WHILL has closed $11 million in Series A funding. The investment was led by investment firm Innovation Network Corporation of Japan. US investors 500 Startups and Sun Microsystems Co-founder and former CEO, Scott McNealy, Jochu and NTT Docomo Ventures also participated in the round.
WHILL, Inc. a San Francisco based start-up that makes the world’s first personal mobility devices with All Direction 4WD, announced today that it has closed $11 million in Series A funding. The investment will be used to manufacture and expand distribution of WHILL’s line of indoor and all-terrain outdoor personal mobility devices, solidifying the company as an innovator in the area of personal transport for the injured or disabled. Founded and designed by former Toyota and Nissan automobile industry experts and engineers, WHILL is the first mobility device of its kind. Its proprietary core technology features All Direction 4WD and full-range speed adjustment through their advanced Acceleration Management System, providing users with superior maneuverability and complete terrain coverage. Fueled by a mission to change the perception of personal mobility devices through design, WHILL has created a new product category of high-performance mobility devices that provide unlimited individual freedom and movement through technology.
Led by investment firm Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ); the $11 million round of funding also includes US investors 500 Startups and Sun Microsystems Co-founder and former CEO, Scott McNealy. Other investors include Jochu and NTT Docomo Ventures.
Winner of the TechCrunch Tokyo 2012 Grand Prize, WHILL is redefining the traditional power wheelchair and offering a sleek and cutting-edge high tech mobility alternative to fit the modern, active lifestyles of today’s consumers.
“Our mission is to reinvent the personal mobility experience for consumers with all types of disability, whether chair use is temporary or permanent. WHILL was designed to power personal freedom by utilizing state-of-the-art technology that provides effortless navigation around obstacles, conditions and terrain in varied and unpredictable indoor and outdoor environments. By eliminating unnecessary technological barriers, we hope users will experience more confidence and freedom in their movement; and we hope to fundamentally transform the attitudes and perceptions of mobility devices for the disabled,” said WHILL CEO, Satoshi Sugie. “We have been overwhelmed with the positive reaction to WHILL all over the world, and with this investment, we’re positioned to significantly expand our line and continue our pursuit of innovation and best-in-class options in the mobility industry.”
According to the US Census Bureau, as many as 54 million Americans have a disability. That’s approximately one in five Americans, or roughly 20% of the population. Of those disabled, nearly 40% reported a disability that kept them from walking or using stairs. In total, this group is also responsible for more than $200 billion in discretionary spending.
“WHILL is uniquely positioned to provide both a stylish and effectively designed mobility solution that taps a huge market opportunity for those who live with mobility issues,” said Scott McNealy, Sun Systems Co-Founder and former CEO. “I’m excited to see what the next year will bring and believe WHILL will continue to set itself apart as the innovation leader in mobility solutions.”
Based in San Francisco and Japan, WHILL is an award-winning hardware company transforming the mobility space with unmatched cutting edge design and technology.