At Toyota AI Ventures, we are explorers. Our mission is to discover what lies ahead, to venture into new territory, and to invest in the people and ideas shaping the future. From flying air taxis and software that helps cars predict human behavior, to autonomous security robots and last-mile delivery services, we look for companies with novel technologies and business models that deliver real value to customers. It takes a lot of screening (close to 2,000 startups at this point) in search of that special alchemy of talent, tech, and market opportunity. So, it’s always a thrill when we meet a team like Moodify that’s breaking new ground.
Led by co-founder and CEO Yigal Sharon, Moodify develops “functional fragrance” technology that uses the power of smell to improve someone’s sense of well-being. The Tel Aviv, Israel-based company’s line of fragrance products come from a decade’s worth of neurobiology research at Israel’s prestigious Weizmann Institute. It’s a fascinating field full of possibilities, and Toyota AI Ventures is proud to join Moodify’s $1.6M seed round, along with Next Gear Ventures.
Personally, I’ve had an olfactory appreciation since Tom Robbins’ 1984 novel, Jitterbug Perfume. There he describes that the nose, with its direct connection to the brain, functions as a “catalytic laser, oxidizing the passion that sleeps in a violet; releasing the trade winds bottled up in orange peel; and identifying by name and number the butterflies dissolved in chips of sandalwood.” — powerful prose for a powerful sense. So, I’m understandably excited with our Moodify investment.
Their active scent solutions are being designed for automotive and other use-cases. For example, to help mask foul odors (fellow Seinfeld fans, remember “The Smelly Car” episode?), to improve alertness, or to reduce stress. Moodify’s first product, Moodify White, works by using your olfactory system to temporarily affect how your brain interprets smell. It does this by emitting a safe, non-intrusive signal that blocks your perception of odors, much like white noise dulls unwanted sounds.
Moodify’s first public demonstration of Moodify White is happening this week at the IAA tradeshow in Frankfurt, Germany, as part of a collaboration with automotive supplier Valeo. That product is expected to hit the market in 2020, with an initial focus on ridesharing, public transport, and personally-owned vehicles. While that’s all we can share for now, we look forward to what’s in store for Moodify as the company grows and continues to roll-out additional fragrances for a variety of applications.
To learn more about Moodify, check out the company’s website.