Keeping a Lookout

A stellar security team: David Selinger and the crew from Deep Sentinel

When you’re headed out of town, you probably ask a neighbor or two to pick up your mail and keep an eye on your place while you’re gone. You might even have a neighborhood watch on your block, where folks look out for one another. Now imagine a souped-up version of that. Everyone in your community would have the most technologically-advanced security system, including night-vision cameras and smart alarms, all of which are powered by a super-intelligent computer that could learn about human behavior and help prevent crimes from happening in the first place.

That’s Deep Sentinel.

I’m excited to announce our investment in Deep Sentinel, which officially came out of “stealth” mode today and announced a $7.4M Series A raise. My firm, Lux Capital, was the first institutional investor in the company’s seed stage last year, and we enthusiastically re-upped for the A round.

Deep Sentinel aims to protect homes and neighborhoods using distributed hardware sensors, computer vision, deep learning and artificial intelligence to keep families safe.

Home security is an enormous problem that, unfortunately, we all face. In 2015, FBI reported nearly 8 million property crimes representing more than $14 billion in losses. This multi-billion dollar market has a hungry audience, yet most of its efforts to innovate leave a lot to be desired. Camera systems are affordable, high-resolution and easy to install, but they are overly sensitive and not yet intelligent. When Fido jumps up onto the sofa, your camera and/or sensors may mistake him for a criminal and sound the alarm. It’s so bad that many police departments have standing policies to not respond to all those false alarms! The signal-to-noise ratio is awful: When a squirrel runs across your porch with an apple in its mouth, your camera pings you an alert — 10 times a day. It happens so frequently that you shut off alerts, defeating the purpose.

Physical security is top of mind for all of us as we are faced with ever-increasing foot traffic to our doors from various delivery services, as well as reduction in local law-enforcement resources. In addition to traditional burglary, break-ins and thefts, people have found new kinds of crimes emerge over the last decade — their front yards vandalized, boxes stolen, and mailboxes ravaged for credit cards. What we need is a security system that learns and gets better over time.

David Selinger (Selly) and I met years ago when he was CEO at his previous company, Rich Relevance. We struck up a long conversation on various ways in which connected hardware and software technologies were changing home ownership and the entire “living experience .” As fellow geeks, we also got to talking about recent advances in machine learning and AI.

Beginning at Amazon, where he came up with the idea to sell ads on product listings, Selly built his career in tech by developing creative new ways to interpret data to understand human behavior — ultimately building successful new businesses around those insights. Most importantly, he is an independent thinker who uses data science to shed light in areas others don’t yet see. Selly was a founder at Redfin and RichRelevance and is a truly product-focused entrepreneur. He is joined at Deep Sentinel by his technical cofounder, Winston Chen, a former senior engineer at FlipTop (LinkedIn), Banjo, and Quid.

Our friendship grew, and one day he showed me the ‘side-project’ he had been working on: deep learning for home security. He had been running experiments in his own neighborhood, and he was literally fighting crime using technology — a true geek vigilante!

I had been working with other companies using futuristic technology to build next-gen physical security solutions, as well as computer vision and deep learning, so it struck a chord. Evolv Technologies, for example, uses proprietary sensors and human-in-the-loop AI to provide critical security at public venues and commercial sites. Clarifai is democratizing machine vision by providing image-classification as a service.

At Lux we believe intelligent infrastructure will be ubiquitous in the future, and consumers and businesses will benefit from easy to access solutions. Deep Sentinel does just that: an out-of-box solution for home security. Company’s patented camera+AI solution detects anomalous behavior in the detection zone early, and predicts criminal activity before it occurs, allowing law enforcement to react before or during the criminal activity itself. I jumped at the chance to partner with Selly and support the company.

Deep Sentinel’s other investors include Shasta Ventures (Jason Pressman, who sits on the Board of NextDoor, among other companies), Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions, and Pierre Omidyar’s Up2398.

The journey has only just begun for Deep Sentinel. We are excited by the promise of keeping families, businesses and communities safe all across America. If this opportunity speaks to you and you’re looking to work at a purpose-driven, ambitious company with experienced, focused leadership, check out their tech meetup group here.