Raleigh ‘edge computing’ startup EDJX raises $6.4M, plans to beta test ‘nano servers’

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EDJX, a Raleigh computing startup, has raised $6.4 million from investors, as it grows its team and moves closer to launching its first products to customers.

The 2-year-old company has been flying under the radar by design, CEO John Cowan said in an interview, in an attempt to avoid attention from competitors as it raises money.

But the launch of a beta program of its new computing platform and the injection of cash is bringing it to the surface.

The startup revealed the funding in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Nineteen investors participated in the round, including V Capital and the Wolfpack Investor Network, an investment group made up of N.C. State University alumni.

EDJX works in edge computing, a new type of computing that creates devices that don’t need to be connected to data centers or the cloud to conduct sophisticated data collection and analysis. These small but powerful computers are important as more industries seek to place smart devices throughout their footprint to run automation and find efficiencies and cost savings.

Demand for these types of devices is expected to surge as 5G wireless networks create faster and more reliable connectivity.

Eventually, everything from your thermostat to your vacuum cleaner could have computers attached to them that communicate data with a larger network of devices. EDJX predicts a lot of demand will initially come from industrial customers who are seeking to modernize their factories or infrastructure.

“We’re trying to pick up computer servers, essentially, and move them outside of the data center into the outdoors,” the company’s chief technology officer, James Thomason, said on a video call.

These computers, he added, could be placed in a variety of nontraditional places, like inside vehicles or industrial equipment.

Thomason, who previously worked at Dell, held up a credit-card-sized black box to the screen. “This is what we call the nano server,” he said, “and it has about the power of a MacBook Pro.”

The nano server is covered in a durable epoxy that is designed to protect it from all sorts of elements. The company has tested this shield by boiling and freezing the tiny computer.

“One of the problems is that you know you can’t trust the environment this goes into,” he said. “It could be dirty, it could be wet; It could be dry and dusty. And so you need to protect the circuitry both from environmental, as well as from tampering. You don’t want people putting traces into your circuitry and that kind of thing.”

EDJX’s goal is that these computers will eventually join a company’s larger computer network, allowing developers to deploy sophisticated code through them.

“We realized we had to create a technology that would turn all this hardware into something useful,” Thomason said. “I mean, if you can’t have developers write code and then deploy it to this stuff, you don’t really have anything. You just have a bunch of computers.”

EDJX was spun out of another Raleigh startup, 6Fusion, a cloud infrastructure company that Cowan helped start.

ts $6.4 million infusion of cash was raised via debt rather than equity, and it will be used to support the company’s beta launch, which will give a small number of customers a chance to test EDJX’s products.

To support this beta launch, EDJX hopes to hire more engineering and support talent, Cowan said.

The company has around 20 employees, many of them based in Raleigh. However, the company has several remote workers all over the world.

The startup was based in downtown Raleigh until the summer, when its lease on Fayetteville Street ended.

With everyone working from home for the foreseeable future, Cowan said he didn’t feel the rent they were paying was worth it. The company has now shifted to a shared office space and plans to look for permanent office space next year.

“Commercial real estate, I think, it’s gonna take a beating everywhere,” Cowan said. ”I think we’ll re-enter the commercial real estate market sometime in ’21. We think there’s going to be great deals.”

This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnovate

Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire