Swedish startup ngenic connects your home’s heating system to the cloud, similar to what Nest (whom Google just acquired for $3 billion) are doing in the states. Three fellow engineering students founded the company during their last year at university, and they’ve been running the company for close to four years now. I talked with one of the founders, Fredrik Fernlund, about the past, the now and the future.
Ngenic – Started At The University
Fredrik begins: “We were fresh from university and none of us had any real experience of entrepreneurship back then, so it’s been an exciting couple of years and we’ve learned so much since our first steps as startuppers”.
But that haven’t stopped them from moving forward. Since then, they’ve raised capital, developed a physical product and launched it to the market. The idea is to improve comfort and energy efficiency of homes by connecting the heating systems to a cloud service, which optimizes the heating by “communicating” with weather forecasts and the energy market.
My first concern is of course – how hard (or easy) is this product to install?
“It may seem somewhat complex, but we’ve done a lot to ease the process for the consumer. We make sure the complicated stuff is up to us. If you consider yourself the least bit handy, you can definitely do the installation yourself”, says Fernlund.
Savings – The Million Dollar Question
How much can you save? Fredrik says the saving potential usually lies within 10-15% on your electricity bill, while competitors claim that they can save a much bigger 30%.
Whilst talking about savings, Fernlund continues:
“The million dollar question. The honest answer is that it depends on the conditions of your heating system. But we’ve seen that savings between 10-15% are normal. Some of our competitors claim savings of up to 30% without any loss of comfort. Anyone with the slightest insight regarding heating dynamics knows that this simply is not possible, unless extreme conditions apply. We believe in being honest to our customers, and we want them to buy our product based on what we can deliver, not by giving them unrealistic expectations which we could never fulfill.”
The product is about more than just saving money according to Fredrik, “We’ve seen that a lot of people are equally, if not more, interested in the aspect of comfort, and they are sick and tired of being forced to manually adjust their system over and over, just to get an indoor temperature that they are satisfied with. Hundreds of thousands of heating systems in Sweden are equipped with UI’s that are completely unintuitive to the average customer. People want to be able to pick up their phone or computer and set the temperature that they want to have, and this is one of the benefits we can offer them. It should be as easy and natural as everything else is today.”
“People want to be able to pick up their phone or computer and set the temperature that they want to have, and this is what we can offer them”
Who is your average customer and how your product can help him or her?
“We’ve learned that in our business, there is no such thing as an average customer. Basically, the only common denominator between our customers is that they live in a house. Some want to save money, some want to save the environment, some want the comfort and some are just plain techies. The neat thing is that we have a product that can meet all these needs.”
Your product is similar to the one Google just acquired in the US, Nest. What does that mean for your business?
“We see the acquisition of Nest purely as a positive thing. Everything that creates buzz around this product segment is good for us, and we’ve already felt an increasing interest around us. What Nest have done in the states is great and we are of course following their movements closely, but we also know that we have an awesome product so we feel confident about our future. Right now we also have a regional advantage since Nest isn’t compatible with the heating systems on the Nordic market.”
So, with all the buzz surrounding Nest, what is the company’s focus today?
“The focus right now is selling the product. People are of course most interested in buying our products during the winter months, so we’re really pushing it for maximizing sales right now. But in one sense it’s also great to have a few months of slack during summertime, when we have an opportunity to focus 100 % on development and the future.”
“People are of course most interested to buy our products during the winter months, so we’re really pushing it for maximizing sales right now”
ngenic recently rebranded their product, which is now called the ‘ngenic Tune’.
“Picking a brand is tricky, but in the end, what matters is what you fill it with, not the name itself. We felt that Tune sounds good and feels good, and that’s really all you need. The mission now is to convey this feeling to the public, and fill the brand with awesomeness.”
Thank you for your time!