Heads up display startup Navdy nabs $6.5 million in seed funding to bring its GPS system to cars

Navdy, a San Francisco startup planning to ship a dashboard heads up display in early 2015, is set to announce today a $6.5 million seed funding round that will be used to hire staff and prepare for manufacturing.

Navdy actually secured the money before launching its pre-order campaign in August — a move that would allow the company to deliver the product even if had not received a large number of orders, CEO Doug Simpson said in an interview.

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He said he believes Navdy appealed to investors because it solves a familiar problem: using your GPS and phone while driving. The device sits on your dashboard and floats driving directions, notifications and other information seemingly on the road out in front of the car, reducing the need to look away from the road.

“To be honest, I was skeptical how much money we could raise as a hardware startup that hadn’t launched a campaign yet,” Simpson said. “I was really blown away by the response we had from investors. We ended up increasing the size of the round twice.”

A Navdy prototype. Photo by Signe Brewster.

A Navdy prototype. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Unlike the large number of companies turning to sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo in recent years, Navdy decided to do all sales through its own website. The $299 display, which will later retail for $499, has so far garnered $3 million in pre-orders.

Upfront Ventures and LightBank led the funding round. Ludlow Ventures, AngelList, MESA+ I, LP, Eniac Ventures, Aslanoba Capital, Golden VP and Wareness.io also participated.