Paul Judge is something of a phenomenon in Atlanta’s bustling tech scene. As a serial entrepreneur, investor and adviser, Judge lives by the challenge of solving hard problems and building companies to make the world better.
Twenty years ago, the Louisiana native ventured to Morehouse to attend college; there he earned a degree in computer science before going on to pick up a Ph.D. in network security at the Georgia Institute of Technology. After honing his skills at various cybersecurity software companies in his 20s—and founding a few of his own, such as Pindrop, with over 160 employees and $120 million in funding—and inventing more than 30 patented computer-security technologies, Judge has become a globally recognized authority on information security issues.
And he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
His most recent company, Luma, produces a home wireless router designed to improve connection-speed quality and decrease dead Wi-Fi spots in your house, putting an end to the search for the best connection spot. The router, priced at $149 for one or $299 for a pack of three, is best-suited for setups in larger spaces, similar to a surround-sound system. The handsomely designed router also offers built-in security protection similar to what was previously available only to businesses.
On Thursday, Luma made headlines when the company added e-commerce giant Amazon.com to its roster of investors. By bringing to the table $12.5 million in Series A funding, Amazon.com is tapping Luma’s technology to advance the technologies of its own products and innovate consumer technology with voice control. Judge told Forbes that Amazon.com is looking to integrate the Luma router into its voice-activation virtual-assistant products Echo and Alexa.
Since launching Luma’s preorder campaign last November, Judge (who is also a 2015 The Root 100 honoree) and the company’s co-founder, longtime colleague Mike Van Bruinisse, say that they’ve presold over 30,000 units. With nearly $2.5 million in anticipated sales, Luma will begin shipping by spring. The additional funds from Amazon.com will be allocated to accelerate the company’s growth.
“We’re solving the issue of bad Internet. People spend nearly $8 billion per year buying routers. We developed Luma to answer the question of how we can make home networks better, smarter and safer, but not annoying,” Judge told The Root in an interview last month. “There are problems Luma can take care of; like when a guest connects to the network, you’ll have the ability to prevent viruses on their computer connecting to anything on your network.”
Judge and Van Bruinisse have collectively raised over $16 million in funding for Luma. The duo also added to their leadership team high-profile executives from top engineering and tech companies, including Apple.
Along with his responsibilities of building Luma, Judge keeps his sleeves rolled up growing Atlanta-based startups, including Monsieur, a bartending robotics machine, and Tech Square Labs, an incubator space consisting of a network of technical-startup founders, academic institutions and industry experts to invest in and grow new technologies and help promising entrepreneurs launch their ideas.
In his 2014 speech at Platform Summit, Judge shared his commitment to investing in diverse companies and founders: “I’ve decided that I want to spend more of my time working with people, touching more people, solving more problems and building more meaningful companies. To do that, I have to be able to work with people to chase their dream and give them the wisdom to make it happen.”
Sherrell Dorsey is a social-impact storyteller who started coding at the age of 14 and now speaks and writes frequently on the intersections of sustainability, technology and digital inclusion. Follow her on Twitter.