Uber, Virgin Galactic Founders Invest in Advanced Tech Startup Allosense

By Iris Gonzalez

Uber co-founder Garrett Camp and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson have invested an undisclosed pre-seed funding amount in the advanced technology startup Allosense.

“Their investment put us as oversubscribed on our pre-seed round,” said founder and CEO Roman Sandoval. “The backing from world-class investors via Garrett Camp’s Expa Ventures sets us up for aggressive growth.”

As part of the investment, the San Antonio-based company also joined the Expa Accelerator, a pre-seed program created by Camp to support startups during the earliest stages of company building. With a program acceptance rate of less than 1%, Allosense was one of three companies selected globally this year.

“We understand what it takes to build a scalable company and we’re taking a hands-on approach to the startups we fund,” said Lisa Besserman, Expa‘s managing director. “Allosense is a perfect example of the types of founders we want to work with — tenacious visionaries with bold ideas that can one day change the world.” 

Alumni of the Expa Accelerator have created highly successful companies, including SleeperRadar, and Statespace, each moving from initial concept within the program to raising over $1 billion in funding. According to Crunchbase data, Expa-backed seed companies have over an 80% success rate in raising Series A funding compared to an industry average of 42%.

Allosense provides an easy way for companies to integrate smart sensors for collecting data and tracking assets. The asset trackers are cell phone-sized devices always in communication, either on-demand or as configured on the app. Customers use the data analytics from the connected sensors not only for tracking but also to measure temperature and other environmental conditions during shipment and storage.

“Our always-connected sensors can be used as asset trackers in various logistics operations,” Sandoval said. “Our ‘Sensing-as-a-Service’ platform fulfills use cases in multiple sectors.”

Sandoval connected with Expa via the OnDeck community, an accelerator community for the world’s top talent launched in Silicon Valley in 2016. 

“With Expa’s support, we aim to refine our dual-use applications in defense and large-enterprise markets,” Sandoval said. “We look forward to meeting Garrett on a quarterly basis as part of the cohort and plan to work with Expa Ventures on establishing successful fundraising rounds.”

The startup company won a competitive awards-based Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 SBIR award for $50,000 in December 2019. The government internet-of-things market is growing and currently valued at $17.4B. Allosense’s sensor technology meets the Air Force’s need for radio-frequency identification or RFID tracking of inventory. The award provides Allosense with direct sole-sourcing with the government to purchase its sensors.

Letters of support from industry leaders such as the Southwest Research Institute’s head of space science and engineering division and Microsoft’s general manager for National Security support the ongoing discussions between Sandoval and the Air Force on an SBIR Phase 3 direct contract. 

From robotics to sensors

Sandoval is a serial entrepreneur and inventor. From 2013 to 2019, Sandoval launched his first company, Wavecast Technologies. He provided engineering testing services for Fortune 100 companies and was a vendor for Tesla.

That vendor connection led to working at Tesla, where Sandoval oversaw manufacturing test engineering. He led the development of the Pack Pulse system used in the battery wire-bond testing system for the Tesla Model 3 sedan from 2016 to 2018.

Sandoval then co-founded Trini Corp. with Mel Du at Geekdom to develop a portable off-road wheelchair. The co-founders participated in the Techstars Boulder 2019 cohort. Upon completion, Du remained in Colorado and renamed the company Ramp Robotics.

Sandoval returned to San Antonio to make his life here with his wife. He turned his interest in the engineering of high-volume manufacturing systems into a concept for connected sensor hardware for industries and military use — what became Allosense, Inc.

Sandoval, along with chief of operations Christopher Benner and automation lead Matthew Brant, run the startup out of the downtown coworking community Geekdom.

After participating in the Geekdom’s 2020 pre-accelerator program, the City of San Antonio invested in the company in March for its potential application in tracking military medical supplies. Since then, Allosense has received additional investments from finance executives from Rackspace and Bumble.

“The revolution of internet-of-things and connected devices is something I’ve wanted to get into,” Sandoval said. “With the cost of entry for new companies fielding telecommunications satellites getting lower, our end goal is to build a fleet of connected sensors along with launching a satellite infrastructure to support them.”

The pre-seed funding will enable Allosense to engage with more commercial markets. Sandoval said he has a contract with an unnamed electric vehicle company interested in using Allosense’s sensors and supporting technologies for manufacturing automobile components.

Sandoval’s longer-range plans include raising seed and Series A funding to support the multiple applications for Allosense’s advanced technology platform. 

“We’d like to demo our solution for Air Force bases in San Antonio as well as government primes like Lockheed Martin,” he added. “Our work continues as we seek to introduce sensors as a service to make a difference.”

The featured image is of Roman Sandoval, founder and CEO of Allosense, courtesy photo.

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