It’s hard to think of a product category that’s less sexy than window air conditioning units. Windmill disagrees, bringing a breath of fresh air to an industry that has been constantly booming in the corner. The company raised $10 million to make the ubiquitous air conditioner easier to install, smarter, and more environmentally friendly.
“In 2018, I was moving from home to a new apartment in Manhattan. My brother was with me, now he’s a co-founder of the company, and together we found the worst looking window air conditioner you could imagine. We called up a mutual friend in town, Ryan, whose family has had air conditioning for decades. Ryan sent a couple of his technicians over and made the experience very easy. But it got me thinking: what do you do if you don’t know a guy,” explains Michael Mayer, CEO of Windmill. “This product category has not been reimagined. It’s super old fashioned and backwards. We have 60 years of institutional knowledge in this space, which specifically includes the manufacture of other types of air conditioners and air products.”
Windmill currently has one product, an 8,300 BTU window mounted unit. The next product will be a smaller 5,000 BTU unit. The company has a broad plan to further develop its product line with other air products. The CEO declined to go into specifics, but suggests fans, filtration and other heating and cooling products are all options.
Windmill claims that its special sauce is as much in the products themselves as it is in the customer experience.
“I think the first thing that catches the attention of customers is our appearance. People have said it looks like a Sonos speaker in her window, something of a treat for the eyes. The industrial design is modern and elegant. We also have ease of installation and a patent pending pre-assembled installation kit. All you have to do is lift the box and the unit is ready to sit on the window. You don’t have to fumble around with a screwdriver,” says Mayer.
The units have auto-dimming LED displays so you have a chance to get some sleep without a searchlight coming into your room, and app support so you can control the AC unit from anywhere in the world. It is also compatible with Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
The company won’t share fundraising details or the exact number of units it has on the market, but the CEO suggests there are thousands of Windmill air conditioners in every state in the nation.
In 2022, Windmill will launch an energy conservation program for all its users. Windmill is using its connected units to help modulate the power footprint of its network of connected AC devices through automated control. If successful, the company postulates that it could result in a power reduction of tens of thousands of kW.
Windmill launched its first product in the summer of 2020 and sold through its first inventory run within 48 hours of launch, amassing a 10,000 person waitlist by March 2021. Direct-to-consumer interest, combined with retail partnerships with Home Depot and PC Richard & Son, resulted in 5,000% year-over-year growth between 2020 and 2021.
Last year, the company raised $3 million; this time, it’s raising a combination of equity and debt to add $10 million to the company’s coffers. The found is led by capital point.
“This increase is really to help us scale for window air conditioners, and we are launching a new window air conditioner SKU. We also intend to develop our broader vision,” explains Mayer. “I am excited to show the world what we are doing. On the one hand, we are creating a connected set of clean air products. Window air conditioner is the first, but tons of air products are used: heaters, fans, humidifiers, purifiers. The other side is energy management for our customers. These devices can communicate with each other, and there are many things we can do with sensors, device-to-device communication, total home air management. So that’s where we’re headed.”