Smart tracking device maker Pebblebee is raising more money and adding a new CEO to the startup

Pebblebee smart devices including Finder 2.0, Black Card and Found. (Pebble picture)

Seattle-area smart-tracking technology company Pebblebee, which makes hardware devices and an app to locate lost keys, pets and more, has found a new partnership, funding and CEO in an effort to further evolve the 8-year-old startup.

Pebblebee has entered into a partnership with Sourcenext, a Japanese distributor and creator of software, hardware and IoT products. Pebblebee would only say that Sourcenext made a “significant” investment in the startup, but an SEC filing puts the amount at $5 million. Pebblebee previously raised a $1.25 million funding round and another larger SAFE investment.

Sourcenext is also behind new Pebblebee CEO Doug Bieter, who served as Head of Partner Development at Sourcenext for two years. Bieter brings 25 years of experience working for and alongside brands including TiVo, Dropcam, Nest and eero.

Joe Miller, Managing Director of Sourcenext (Americas) is also joining Pebblebee’s Board of Directors.

Doug Bieter, CEO of Pebblebee. (Photo LinkedIn)

The addition of Bieter will see Pebblebee co-founder Daniel Daoura transition to CTO, with a focus on innovation and product development.

Daoura launched Pebblebee in 2014 with fellow Boeing engineer Nick Pearson-Franks. Pearson-Franks died in an accident in June 2020 at the age of 40. A year later, Daoura recounted the challenges of running the startup without his good friend and partner.

“I have more responsibilities. I have more work. I have more challenges,” Daoura said of life without Pearson-Franks. “As we develop the team, he is always with us, but obviously I can’t do it alone.”

Daoura told GeekWire on Wednesday that he knew deep down that the help he needed would come in the form of Bieter, whom he has known for about four years.

“He’s always been my number 1. It’s a dream come true,” Daoura said. “I wanted Doug to lead the business and take us to new heights.”

Daoura said he had always been passionate about bringing new products to market, but was less intrigued by the distribution and sales aspect of his own business.

“We did pretty well on our own, but not at the level we needed, in terms of scaling and growing,” Daoura said. “It’s just a huge weight on my shoulders.”

Pebblebee, which employs about 20 people, previously filled its orders online from a warehouse in Issaquah, Washington. This work will now be done by a third-party Minneapolis company for Sourcenext.

Bieter called Daoura a “brilliant engineer and product guy” and said Sourcenext feels good about the company’s current product lineup and what’s in the works. His job will be to put order in the operational.

“It’s about taking the product and the technology that’s out there and bringing it to the retail world,” Bieter said. “Whether it’s online partners, B2B partners through traditional retail or even a group of companies we work with today.”

Pebble has sold over one million devices and has over 400,000 active customers. Sales are currently 100% online on its website, Amazon and elsewhere. Previous deals with physical retailers included sales of its Finder tracking device at Costco locations across the United States.

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