Things have moved quickly for the New York-based startup Ringly. After launching a little over a year ago, it opened up pre-orders in June for its first product, a Bluetooth-connected ring that buzzes when the wearer receives a notification on her phone. In December, Ringly started shipping its first batch of rings.
It hasn't even finished fulfilling its first round of orders, but the young company is already gearing up for future growth. Ringly has closed a $5.1 million round of funding from venture capital heavyweight Andreessen Horowitz, along with High Line Ventures Partners, PCH and Silas Capital.
Capitalizing on the positive feedback it's gotten from the fashion press, Ringly is making moves to further establish itself as a truly stylish take on wearable tech. CEO Christina Mercando says the team is at work developing new designs and styles, and there's a partnership with an as-of-yet unnamed fashion brand in the works.
While Andreesen Horowitz lends the startup a good deal of tech cred, Proenza Schouler investor Silas Capital opens up a good deal of fashion world connections. Come March, Ringly will be sold on Shopbop and in Bloomingdale's.
Of course, a good chunk of that $5.1 million will also go into research and development on Ringly's next product, which should come out in early 2016. The nature of its functionality, Mercando wouldn't say.
One major complaint that the tech-minded have lodged against Ringly is the fact that its uses are relatively limited. What's the point of having a ring buzzing to tell you when you've got a text if your phone is right there?
"Part of the reason we did keep it so simple is because it’s easy to understand," Mercando says. "I’ve talked to people who are taking the Swiss army knife approach [to wearables] and it’s hard to figure out what you’ll really use it for."
And, she points out, simple functionality means smaller hardware. And isn't that what we're all asking for? Wearable devices that fit in, say, a traditional cocktail ring?
With its first product, Ringly is making headway in carving out a space for smart jewelry in the fashion world. Hopefully its next offering will impress the tech crowd, too.