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M@dison Building-based iRule acquires On Controls

To say 2013 was an eventful year for iRule might be a bit of an understatement. The entertainment technology startup scored a Series B investment round last spring, moved into the M@dison Building in November and acquired On Controls just before the end of the year.

"It's been a great 2013," says Itai Ben-Gal, CEO of iRule. "We're excited about this year."

The 4-year-old startup makes a cloud-based universal remote control system that can be operated from the user's mobile device. It acquired On Controls (which iRule has partnered with in the past) in December for an undisclosed amount. The Salt Lake City-based startup specializes in making a control-and-automation system for professional entertainment center dealers and installers. Downtown Detroit-based iRule plans to offer On Controls’ technology to dealers and continue selling its own technology to consumers.

"We got to a point where we wanted to bring that side of the sales in-house," Ben-Gal says. "We wanted to acquire that brand instead of starting one of our own."

Compuware Ventures made the first major investment in iRule, moving the startup into the Compuware Building shortly thereafter. Detroit Venture Partners led the $1 million Series B round last March. It moved into a bigger space in the M@dison Building, where Detroit Venture Partners is headquartered, in November to accommodate its new hires. Thirteen people now work at iRule after hiring six people over the last year. It is also looking to hire three people right now and another three in the second quarter of this year.

"We're looking to grow the team aggressively," Ben-Gal says. "We're looking for everyone from developers to sales guys."

Ben-Gal and Victor Nemirovsky launched the company as a side project from their living rooms in Farmington Hills. The partners (both home-entertainment-center enthusiasts) quickly created a niche for iRule’s technology with people who enjoy custom home entertainment centers. Last year, iRule started to sell its product to both everyday consumers and commercial customers, finding a high-growth ceiling with the latter.

"That has been a nice area of growth," Ben-Gal says. "Now we're working to aggressively grow the commercial side."

Source: Itai Ben-Gal, CEO of iRule
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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