Ringly scores $5.1M for future wearables and collaborations

Ringly, which makes a line of connected rings, has raised $5.1M in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from High Line Ventures and Silas Capital. The funds will help the New York City-based startup expand beyond offering connected rings and enable collaborations to bring its technology to other brands. It will also expand its research and development efforts to pack more sensors and sense into the tiny form factors that wearables demand.

This round brings the company’s total investment to $6.1 million and includes previous investors such as First Round Capital, Social+Capital, Mesa+, BBV and PCH. The company was created in 2013 to build a connected ring that would let women know when their phones were ringing or they had text messages while keeping their phones in their bags. It’s a common problem, but most of the solutions were bulky or ugly.

For example, I wear a Pebble watch, but it’s not something that goes well with a little black dress or even a cute tank and pair of strappy heels for a night on the town. Ringly is one of the first devices I’ve seen that gets the fashion and the tech right, by cramming in a tiny Bluetooth radio, a microcontroller, and LED and motor to offer some haptic feedback into a tiny package that fits behind a large stone in a cocktail ring. It wasn’t easy.

It’s that same package of tiny tech that Ringly CEO Christina Mercando says the company will be looking at bringing to other designs and perhaps other companies in the coming year. “We are looking at new styles and form factors using the existing technology,” she said. “The tech is so interesting and we’ll be adding new features from the software side to help you stay more connected.”

She said that Ringly will “definitely” be collaborating with other designers and brands over the coming year, but it won’t be as a white label technology package, rather as a more formal collaboration that will include the Ringly brand. So maybe we’ll see a Tory Burch for Ringly design or something a bit more fun. David Yurman appreciates a chunky hunk of jewelry.

Finally, the money will also go toward R&D for new products that will require new sensors and hardware that will open up new product possibilities for 2016. Given the plethora of new sensors and what people are trying to do with them, this could be amazing or a huge letdown. I’m going to hope for amazing since Mercando spent her time designing a ring while it seems most other companies were out there designing a smart watch.

It’s not that the market doesn’t need a smart watch, but it’s so clear that when it comes to wearables that the market will need infinite variety, and Mercando seems ready to think about form factors that others are ignoring. With plans to integrate her tech into more places and different devices, Mercando’s view of wearables is one where the technology slips seamlessly into fashion as opposed to trying to make technology the fashion. For the mainstream audience, that’s the approach I’d bet on for the long term.

For more on Ringly, check out Mercando discussing how she built the device at our Structure Connect event from October in the video below: