Building a business on smart homes: Alertme

 

I closely follow Alertme from 2006, since it was founded in Cambridge, UK. I really liked their idea of cloud-based home security and automation with Zigbee sensors before “cloud” was a term en vogue. It resonated with something we were (and still are) trying to do.

Then, they inexplicably (at least for me) switched the primary focus to smart energy, i.e. on ways to use the cloud-based sensor network to monitor and optimize energy use at home. I never understood the move. I made my calculations considering a family living in an apartment, and knowing our family energy consumption. I could not see how one could invest a 500-1000 euros and several hours in the hope to reduce their energy bill of a 50-100 euros per year. I thought the “home security” case was much more compelling. At the time, energy was a favored theme among VC, and I assumed this was a way for them to complete their series B round of 15M GBP. 

Now, it seems to me they are refocusing again on cloud-based smart homes, with a minor accent on security. The nice video above details their vision. As distribution is concerned, they switched from direct website selling to partnering with British Gas and Lowe’s. Much larger volumes, smaller margins.

I am really eager to see whether they will still be able to mark their difference with respect to the pack of other home automation companies (no more the Apple of home automation).