Our CODE_n15 Finalist Cozify wants to bring home automation to everyone. We talked to Antti Vihavainen, business developer at Cozify, about the origins of the idea, their vision, as well as the rather surprising results of their own market research.
Where did your idea for the company come from?
Antti Vihavainen (Cozify): It originated directly from the need of Kimmo Ruotoistenmäki, the co-founder and CEO of Cozify. He was renovating an old house to be used as the home for his family and planned to invest in home automation. However, it turned out that traditional home automation is cumbersome to design, buy, implement and use. Moreover, the result would be static and not evolve as technology develops during the life cycle of the house. So Kimmo and Tony Risikko, the other co-founder, decided to revolutionize home automation by enabling retrofitting with state-of-the-art smart devices and easy automation of actions.
For which kind of audience is your product or service intended and what problem is it solving?
Antti Vihavainen (Cozify): Based on our own primary market research which was conducted in Finland, Germany and the USA, we have determined that there are three distinct consumer target groups with slightly varying preferences regarding application area (comfort/security/energy), functionality and pricing. Right from the beginning the product was planned for use by the early majority and not the early adopters – even if their developer access needs will also be accommodated.
Could you share more insights from the market research you mentioned?
Antti Vihavainen (Cozify): Yes, certainly. In our market research we asked about the most important features of a home automation system. In Germany, the top were: easy setup and installation of the system, data security and a pleasant user interface. These may seem self-evident, but compared to other countries, there are distinct differences. For example in the USA, easy setup and installation were considered a lot less important. However, data security was in the top three in all countries.
When it comes to people’s plans to purchase home automation equipment, it was little surprise to us that the Germans were most likely to invest in this area. The most popular application in Germany is clearly energy efficiency, but also security and comfort are relevant for millions of households. We are happy to discuss these results in more detail with any interested channel partners and the media.
Tell us a bit about the company’s founders like their professional or industry background and the origins of the founding-idea.
Antti Vihavainen (Cozify): Kimmo Ruotoistenmäki is the co-founder and CEO. He is a handyman who swiftly switches between business development, technology and product management. Kimmo is a second-generation entrepreneur with a strong passion for startups and enhancing the user experiences of our customers.
Tony Risikko is the co-founder and in charge of customer engagement. Great services are close to his heart. He was a partner at a startup called Cidercone, which was sold to Ixonos. His motto is: Live your life so that you can die in peace.
I myself was about to participate in a company to unify the control and automation of IoT devices, but noticed an article about Cozify in a major Finnish newspaper. Quite soon it became evident that our visions of the future were a closely match so I joined Cozify in August 2014. I’ve taken on the responsibility of finding the right channel partners and working with the investors to enable product development and quick international expansion.
Right now there are a number of smart home solutions on the market, Apple and Google are preparing to offer products and services too. What’s the specific added value of your product in comparison to your competitors? What’s your opinion about the request by a growing amount of smart home users to standardize the technical infrastructure of all these systems?
Antti Vihavainen (Cozify):
Thank you for this question. 😉 We believe there is a great opportunity now that the big boys are there to make the market. They also validate the need for a solution in this area. It is impossible to identify the winner just by benchmarking with the solutions our competitors have developed so far. In nascent markets, the winners are the ones who can adapt. We are an agile company that operates with lean startup principles. We make assumptions, validate them and improve quickly, based on feedback.
Standardization is welcome, however, it is unlikely that there will be any single standard to encompass all these overlapping application areas. There will be a long period of time when a unified user experience can only be offered by solutions that bridge the specific “silos” of each manufacturer and technology – such as ours.
Our goal for CeBIT is to find channel partners. We have prepared specific business models for operators and retailers, so please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
See Cozify live on the CODE_n Stage on Thursday, 19.03.2015.