Three years ago, Mila showed up on Kickstarter with its smart air purifier. The company created an air purifier with a choice of different filters to suit the use case (and price) customers were interested in, along with an impressive array of sensors built into the device itself. Today, the San Francisco-based company announced it has closed a $10 million Series A to scrub the bad stuff out for more people.
The company’s starting round was led by none other than Electrolux. Mila claims it was Electrolux’s first startup investment. The device giant also participated in the current round. Mila’s $10 million Series A was led by returning partner Cercano Management (the former venture arm of the late Paul Allen’s investment firm) and “an undisclosed global consumer goods brand.” The company says it will spend the money on hiring, scaling operations, expanding its product portfolio and working towards its ultimate goal of meeting the global need for better indoor air quality. The company also plans to launch Mila Halo, a smart humidifier.
The company raised its $10 million in an all-equity deal at a post-money valuation of $52 million, the company tells me. It says the new valuation represents a 3x increase in value from the previous year’s launch round.
“We are on the verge of a grand ‘air awakening’ as the quality of the air we breathe becomes more important to families. But the product families usually provide little or no insight into whether or not they work. With Mila, families can finally monitor and control their indoor air quality effortlessly,” said Grant Prigge, CEO and co-founder of Mila in an interview with australiabusinessblog.com. “This investment
enables us to meet growing demand while continuing to build thoughtful, beautiful experiences that improve the health of our homes.”
The company operates in a highly competitive market – it’s not that there’s a shortage of air purifiers to choose from – but the company’s clever cute design and the ability to use a number of different filters depending on the need, distinguish the company from its competitors. The app is also excellent, reporting particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10), humidity, temperature, volatiles (TVOC), CO2 and CO2. The purifier uses this data to scrub the air more intelligently – running the fans slowly when they’re not really needed, or running at full blast when nasty air needs to be scrubbed out.
We spoke to Grant Prigge, the company’s CEO and co-founder, to find out a little more. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
TC: Who are the lead investors and how has it been working with them so far?
Grant Prigge: Mila went from a small passion project with a few hundred thousand dollars in angel funding from friends to Electrolux, one of the largest consumer appliance manufacturers in the world, as the first institutional investor. Mila was Electrolux’s first venture capital investment in the company’s 100-year history.
After launching what became the largest air purifier in crowdfunding history, with more than $1.5 million in preorders, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital led Mila’s second round. Our Series A was led by Cercano Management, the venture spin-off of Vulcan Capital, and one of the largest consumer goods manufacturers in the world.
Most people warned us against working with large corporate investors, but they were some of the best partners we could wish for, providing thoughtful feedback and support. With Electrolux’s support, we’ve been able to punch well above our weight, especially when it comes to navigating the supply chain challenges of recent years. And with our newest investor, we see the same synergy in marketing and branding as we bring Mila to millions of homes around the world.
What is the purpose of the fundraising? What does the money unlock?
This fundraiser will allow us to expand our team and meet the growing demand for Mila’s award-winning air purifier. In addition, it allows us to expand our product portfolio with additions that work to improve the health of our homes and indoor environments. In the new year, we are incredibly excited to release Mila Halo, the first humidifier of its kind that makes it safe to use tap water, thanks to Halo’s proprietary water filtration system. Halo received a CES Innovation Award in 2022.
It is the convergence of a growing portfolio of hardware solutions with an air quality control system that is becoming more intelligent every day. We believe that Mila will become the Home Health Operating System of the future.
What is the long-term vision?
Our mission is to bring every family back from air life to shape the healthy home of the future. The quality of the air we breathe is now recognized as the greatest environmental threat to human health. Around the world, dirty air is the cause of 7 million early deaths each year – more than AIDS, diabetes and road accidents combined.
The last two years have only shown how little we know about the air we breathe. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how crucial their home environment is to their health – they simply lack the resources to do something about it. In fact, 91% of consumers say they now understand how air quality affects their health, but 69% say they don’t know what to do about it.
Mila plans to fix that. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a $16 billion market ripe for disruption. We strive to be the dominant brand and make every home a healthier place to breathe.
What is the Mila Cares program and why do you give air purifiers away for free?
One of the things that blew us away during our original Kickstarter campaign was the letters we got from our customers about who they bought their Mila for. Husbands bought it for their husbands who suffered from allergies, girlfriends bought it to save the cat-boyfriend relationship, fathers bought it for their young children who suffered from asthma and an autoimmune problem. These thoughtful notes and stories inspired and humbled us, clearly demonstrating that people bought our products for the health of their loved ones, and we pledged to take that responsibility seriously in everything we do. It reinforced that compassion and care should always be a core pillar of our brand (hence the name “Mila Cares”).
One way we do this is through the Mila Cares program. Each customer can nominate someone in need of clean air and each member of the Mila team can hand out a Mila Cares package. The only requirement is that it touched them in some way. Sometimes a smile, sometimes a cry. The nominee will then receive a surprise package Mila Zorgen, almost always containing a Mila air purifier, with a personal letter from us.
To date, we have distributed over 100 Mila Cares packages, and it allows us to meaningfully celebrate the deserving air breathers in the communities we are fortunate to be a part of.