The Silicon Review
“We believe that most “smart devices” aren’t actually smart and are much too complex for the mass market consumer. While they claim to make your life easier, they are often very complicated to install, provision, and activate. We have completely removed that complexity and cost barrier to mass market consumer adoption with our suite of smart home products,” says Dean Finnegan, Founder & CEO of SimplySmart Home by Switchmate LLC.
Information technology is revolutionizing products. Once composed solely of mechanical and electrical parts, products have become complex systems that combine hardware, sensors, data storage, microprocessors, software, and connectivity in myriad ways. These ‘smart, connected products’– made possible by vast improvements in processing power and device miniaturization and by the network benefits of ubiquitous wireless connectivity–have unleashed a new era of competition.
Smart, connected products offer exponentially expanding opportunities for new functionality, far greater reliability, much higher product utilization, and capabilities that cut across and transcend traditional product boundaries.
A connected home, for instance, is networked to enable the interconnection and interoperability of multiple devices, services and apps. These services and apps are delivered over multiple interlinked and integrated devices, sensors, tools and platforms. Connected, real-time, smart and contextual experiences are provided for the household inhabitants, and individuals are enabled to control and monitor the home remotely as well as within it.
In view of the above mentioned, we are thrilled to present SimplySmart Home by Switchmate – dedicated to making consumer-friendly, wire-free products that create a modern, automated home without rewiring or replacing anything.
The company was established in 2016 and is head quartered in Pleasanton, California.
Interview Excerpt: Dean Finnegan, Founder & CEO
Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
The company was founded to finally remove the complexity and cost barriers to connected home products. Initially we were involved with automated lighting and power in the connected home market, and as we expanded to include other connected home products we pivoted our brand from Switchmate to SimplySmart Home to reflect that mission of providing a better lifestyle to the mass market consumer with a variety of affordable and incredibly easy to install connected home products. A completely automated home used to cost tens of thousands of dollars and was therefore not available to every-one. We have removed those cost and complexity barriers by providing 1-3 minute total installation time products that improve the lifestyle of all of our consumers.
In building our own cloud ecosystem, we also broke new ground on communication protocols between devices in the home and the cloud. For the first time, long range BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) only devices now have cloud access utilizing the smart phone as a Wi-Fi/BLE bridge or imbedding that bridge into other powered devices in the home such as our smart outlet. This was important to extend the battery
life of IOT devices where Wi-Fi modules use so much energy relative to BLE devices. We are the first company to develop a long range BLE, Wi-Fi on demand ecosystem. We utilize BLE for all command and control functions at 1% the power consumption of Wi-Fi but then automatically convert that signal to Wi-Fi when cloud access is needed or to stream video.
How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.
The first project was very successful with placement in 14 retailers within 6 months and 37 retailers within the first year. Our unprecedented access to retail channels and direct marketing efforts primarily through Facebook and Google exceeded all expectations, including our own which are historically very high.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
The most challenging aspect of our business was developing that long range BLE/Wi-Fi on demand ecosystem that could support any connected home products; and specifically searching the world to find the “a team” of top notch developers in this new and evolving field. That was an iterative process and was not completed until last year. Our other major challenge as the company spearheading long range BLE was that although we were Google Home compatible very early on, because Alexa would only support Wi-Fi devices, we couldn’t get Alexa certification until we had launched our smart outlet and Zip with the imbedded Wi-Fi/BLE bridge for Alexa certification. That hurt our reviews on Amazon but that is now behind us with the complete ecosystem now deployed with full compatibility with the personal assistants that dominate the market today.
Success in business is all about execution and the most important aspect of achieving that goal is hiring the right team. Finding highly motivated, entrepreneurial people with a passion for excellence is one of the biggest challenges of any start-up; but it’s absolutely necessary to ensure both short and long term success. We now have succeeded in building the team that will take the company to its full potential.
Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true for your company?
Our company constantly polls the mass market consumer base to determine their true wants and needs in any given product category. We also consistently reach out to our installed base of consumers asking for feedback, both positive and negative, primarily through social networking but also directly with email and actual phone calls.
What are the biggest assets to your organization? What would they be and why?
Our core values are summed up as: a passion for excellence in execution in all aspects of our business. We all work together as a collaborative team in a flat organizational structure where every single person is important and relevant to the company’s success.
Every executive and individual adopts these values as their perspective when applying efforts to every project and in every aspect of developing client relationships. Operating at this level of understanding and perspective keeps focus on our primary goal of exceptional consumer experiences with our products.
Perhaps the most important advice I can provide is to surround yourself with a passionate group of highly motivated and talented people who are always learning and are always free to express their opinions. By checking your own ego at the front door and fostering that in your culture, you will ultimately make better and more informed decisions.
Do you have any new products ready to be/getting ready to be launched?
We are launching a first-of-its-kind, completely wire-free whole-home security system this year that will revolutionize the whole home DIY security category. The total setup time, including placing window and door sensors and a 100dB siren, is 3minutes maximum. The company is also launching an automated door lock and garage door opener followed by an automated blinds solution that will automate existing blinds in any home. By the end of this year, SimplySmart Home/Switchmate will be in more categories of connected home than any other brand.
Two-way communication is most effective, and employees need to feel they have an outlet for sharing their observations and ideas. How does this idea come to life at SimplySmart Home/Switchmate?
Our office culture is collaborative and energetic, and everyone rolls up their sleeves to help co-workers when needed, regardless of their titles. No job is too small for anyone in the company. We are looking for employees who share a similar sense of purpose as it is imperative to surround yourself with great teams – both at work and at home.
As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
We expect to exceed $300 million in revenue by the end of 2019 and will be doing business in over 30 countries worldwide.
The Brain Behind The Picture
Dean Finnegan: Dean launched the first successful mass market, consumer robotics product in North America in 2003, the first home décor digital photo frame in 2005 and then dominated that category with the lead market share in North America for 6 years. Later, Mr. Finnegan launched the first Android tablet in 2009. He grew his last two companies to over 200 million in revenue in their first two years with a focus on simplified user interfaces and significant technology differentiation that led to broad retail distribution in over 30,000 U.S. storefronts.