Your car has been able to tell you information for years. Wearables are starting to be able to tell you great information about your body and your health. Why can’t your home or office tell you anything? That’s the problem Colorado-based Notion, a home monitoring startup, is starting to solve.
Earlier this year, the company was selected to participate in MetaProp NYC’s first real estate tech accelerator. The program has provided growth services, mentoring, intensive courses and funding in exchange for a small amount of equity.
Brett Jurgens, CEO, and Ryan Margoles, CTO, launched the company with a very successful Kickstarter campaign where they raised $281,655 by offering backers the opportunity to be a part of their beta testing phase. Since then the team has refined the product and will begin shipping new units early next year.
Basically Notion is a simplified home monitoring system. Using just a single, extremely powerful sensor, Notion can detect hundreds of different household events like water heater leaks, garage door monitoring, liquor or gun cabinets opening, or if the lights are left on in the living room. The small, multi-function sensor can easily be placed anywhere and moved to new locations at any time.
The $199 kit comes with three sensors and a bridge to coordinate them all. You simply name each sensor in your setup so the software can alert you to whatever you want to know. The Notion device sends alerts via email, text, or push notifications and users have the option to send them directly to family members, friends, or neighbors to ensure critical events are not left unattended to. Notion gets smarter over time too as it starts to recognize how you live your life.
On January 26, 2016 in New York City and February 3, 2016 in San Francisco, Notion participated in MetaProp NYC’s Demo Day. The event celebrated the culmination of the 22-week MetaProp NYC accelerator program and gave graduating startups a chance to showcase their fast growing real estate technologies.
Prior to the New York event, Jurgens shared his company’s plans and their tech accelerator experience with cre.tech.
cre.tech: What problem does Notion’s product solve?
Jurgens: For 2,000 years, spaces have not been intelligent. Apartments, homes, multi-family buildings and most office buildings are wasting billions of dollars on water leaks, inefficient energy usage and operational inefficiencies. $10 billion is lossed every year on water leak damages alone, and energy costs could be decreased by 30% per year with more efficient programming and monitoring.
Notion keeps owners, building managers and maintenance staff connected to their properties anytime, anywhere. Through a single sensor with eight powerful functions, a mobile app and data tracking, we help you save money by monitoring things like water leaks and temperature fluctuations, giving you peace of mind by monitoring staff and alerting you the second a restricted area is accessed, and by providing you with data you’ve never had before.
The better you can answer the question of what your team and business is great at vs. what it needs help with, the better you’ll understand what accelerator is right for you.
cre.tech: What measures have you taken to ensure data security with your home automation product?
Jurgens: We have end-to-end encryption for over-the-wire transmissions, AES 256-bit encryption for all data transfers between components, and OAuth 2.0 for client authentication not unlike what Facebook and Twitter have implemented.
cre.tech: You started out to build a better fire alarm. How did you end up with the product you have today?
Jurgens: Our initial concept was a smart, connected smoke alarm. This was before Nest Protect was released. We came to the conclusion, through considerable research, that i.) we would have to charge a high premium of $150/alarm, ii.) there would be multiple regulatory tests and iii.) most people have never purchased a smoke alarm. These learnings made us realize that our real goal was getting the smoke alarm signal to the property owner, not detect smoke. So we started down the retrofit path and after more research, we made another pivot realizing that entire homes, apartments and even larger properties were the big opportunity, not just smoke alarms.
cre.tech: What has been the most difficult aspect of manufacturing the hardware for consumers?
Jurgens: Timing. Hardware is inherently difficult given the tooling and build times between iterations. As an early-stage company, we are constantly being asked about our launch date, when certain product milestones will be reached, etc. There are always issues when making physical products and when innovating with a never-before-built product, unforeseen issues cause delays. It’s difficult to predict these speed bumps in the road and even more difficult to predict how long a fix will take.
cre.tech: What has ben the most valuable “take-away” from your MetaProp NYC accelerator experience?
Jurgens: Our biggest takeaway has been a better understanding of customer incentives. MetaProp has connected us with some very large property owners and managers. Coming into the program, we had our own assumptions about what incentives were important to owners vs. managers vs. tenants. Connecting with the right high level executives at these large owner/operators has helped us better understand our value.
cre.tech: What advice would you give to start-ups considering participation in an accelerator program?
Jurgens: Every startup is different and every accelerator is different. Be brutally honest with yourself and between co-founders about what your team and business truly needs. Accelerators are great for expanding your network, getting specific industry and business guidance and raising money, amongst other things. The better you can answer the question of what your team and business is great at vs. what it needs help with, the better you’ll understand what accelerator is right for you.
cre.tech: What’s next for Notion?
Jurgens: Our product launch is our next big step but research and development never stops here at Notion! We have a customer-centric mentality that guides our product development decisions. Our next product will be a cellular bridge that will function when the power goes out, the WiFi network goes down or when a WiFi network isn’t available at all. We’re also excited about upcoming feature releases that won’t require new hardware as our systems have been built to allow us to improve the experience over time.