Last November, Apple announced the release of Self Service Repair – a surprising addition for a company that notoriously lacked such features. These changes didn’t happen in a vacuum, of course. The president and Congress have been pushing to open up the so-called right to redress. There are many reasons for this, from consumer choice to sustainability concerns.
But even as once-resilient companies are starting to embrace the change, there is a difference between opening access to repairability to the user and actually making a product user-repairable. As consumer electronics have become thinner, they have also become much more difficult to repair for non-professionals.
Founded in late 2019 by former Apple and Oculus/Facebook engineer Nirav Patel, Structure is among the emerging hardware startups focused on putting repairability as a key capability in product design. Today, the company announced an $18 million Series A, which it is touting as a justification of that mission.
“The immense and immediate interest of all of you in our mission and the Laptop Framework has made it clear that we are on the right track,” Patel said in a statement announcing the increase. “This industry is long overdue for deeply personal products that are designed to last. This was as obvious to all of you as it was to us, and our partners at Spark fully believe in it as well.”
The round was led by Spark Capital – which, as Patel notes, also led the Oculus Series A. The increase finds Spark general partner Kevin Thau joining Framework’s board. Seed investors Pathbreaker Ventures, Anorak Ventures and Formic Ventures are also returning for the round. Patel is quick to note here that the Bay Area-based company didn’t “need funding from investors to keep the lights on” but is instead using the capital to grow its product offerings to bring “upgrading, personalization and repair for more consumer electronics.”
No word on what those categories might be, though the company says it has already laid out a roadmap for the next two years. Smartphones seem like a reasonable bet, based on sheer ubiquity, although that market is even more saturated than laptops these days. It’s also the one that Amsterdam-based Fairphone attacked quite aggressively, releasing the Fairphone 4 last year.
Additional funding will be used to increase the number of employees. There are still doubts as to whether the appeal of user repairability is enough to drive interest beyond a relatively niche audience. While the bigger companies have made some progress regarding repairability, it seems unlikely that many big names will approach the design with the same openness as a Framework or Fairphone.