Alert Labs, the Kitchener-based IoT hardware and software company co-founded in 2015, announced Wednesday it has been acquired by Watsco, Inc., a Florida-based distributor of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems that had revenue of US$4.3 billion in 2017.
“It was the right opportunity at the right time,” said Alert Labs CEO George Tsintzouras. “It’s a big decision to sell a company, but when we looked down at the checklist, it was clear to us it made sense for a whole lot of reasons. We’re bringing in a partner that presents us with enormous opportunities.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Alert Labs CEO George Tsintzouras. (Communitech photo: Sara Jalali)
Tsintzouras and COO Ruth Casselman said the deal won’t impact Alert Labs’ day-to-day operations. “We’ll remain in Kitchener with the same people and the same leadership team,” Casselman said. “The roadmap is the same.”
Alert Labs, which grew out of the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo, has 34 employees, nearly double its complement of last spring, when it moved into new workspace at 132 Queen St. S.. The company is looking to add another 20 employees within the next 12 months.
Alert Labs and Watsco on Wednesday also took the wraps off a smart sensor system called Sentree, which allows remote monitoring of air conditioning systems. The system sends out proactive alerts when problems are detected, helping service teams spot and address issues before a unit fails. It can be deployed in as little as 10 minutes, and then generates intuitive alerts about temperature, compressor and refrigerant leaks, liquid and vapour line blockage.
Alert Labs first gained traction as a maker of a suite of devices that monitor water usage in homes and businesses, sending users alerts via cellular networks. Casselman said it had always been the company’s goal to expand into home heating and cooling, which in part is why Alert Labs saw opportunity with Watsco.
As for the genesis of the deal, Tsintzouras said that the two companies were introduced as Alert Labs was going to market in search of partners for a fundraising round. Watsco expressed interest in participating in the round, but the more time the companies spent getting to know one another’s businesses and products, and their respective strengths, the more that it became apparent that a more comprehensive agreement made sense.
Alert Labs COO Ruth Casselman. (Communitech photo: Sara Jalali)
“Alert Labs is an exceptional team of innovators, with an entrepreneurial culture that is consistent and complementary to ours,” said Watsco’s President, A.J. Nahmad. “This acquisition represents the next phase of investing in ground-breaking technologies intended to deliver unique solutions and opportunities to our customers. We look forward to partnering with [Alert Labs’] talented team.”
Certainly Watsco’s scale – it does business in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Mexico – offers Alert Labs significant reach and market penetration.
“We think we’re going to achieve some great things together,” said Tsintzouras.
Alert Labs was a member of Communitech’s six-month Rev accelerator program and won $100,000 in 2016 at a Rev pitch competition. The co-founders paid credit to the Waterloo Region tech ecosystem for helping the company find its footing and its continued support.
“The pay-it-forward nature of the community here is something unparalleled,” said Casselman. “We’re extraordinarily grateful for all the help we’ve received on our journey and it’s a big reason why we established ourselves here and will continue to be based in this region.”