Want to know about the future of home automation?
Then check out WigWag, an Austin-based startup that has created a home automation system based on smart sensors.
The sensors can adjust lighting depending on the time of day and automatically start the coffee pot in the morning or turn up and down the thermostat.
“WigWag lets you build intelligent environments anywhere with Internet-connected sensors and devices by letting you graphically write rules, “When” [this] happens “Then” do [that],” according to the company’s Kickstarter campaign. “No complicated programming languages or computers necessary, rules are easily built on smartphones and tablets. The more WigWag and third party devices in your account, the more you can do!”
The company has currently raised more than $238,000, far surpassing its goal of $50,000 on its Kickstarter campaign. And it’s not done yet. It still has 19 days to go. Already, more than 1,000 people have contributed to the campaign.
Ed Hemphill, one of the company’s founders, recently answered these questions, via email, about the startup, founded in 2011.
Q. Can you explain your product in the simplest language possible?
A. WigWag is IFTTT for the physical world. WigWag ties all kinds of services and devices together in order to do intelligent things in a physical environment. Today the world of smart devices is fragmented and diverse, with a lot of products unable to talk to each other. Our system allows you to tie these devices together via a smartphone or web browser.
We have a language (DeviceJS) that allows programmers to tie devices together, without worrying about all the different protocols out there. You could call it a language for the Internet of Things. And one of the best thing about the WigWag platform is that you don’t need a programming degree to customize it.
Q. What’s your secret sauce? What differentiates you from the competition?
Q. Who are your competitors?
A. WigWag spans a couple of industries… First there is the traditional home automation industry, with players like Control4, uControl, MiCasaVerde and hundreds of others. Then there is the commercial AV automation sector, which is dominated by Crestron, and with mid-size players such as AMX and RTI. There are also cloud services home automation based companies a little more similar to WigWag, such as Lowe’s Iris, Smartthings and Revolv and monthly alarm system products like ADT Pulse. And then we have the device manufacturers who are creeping into the control system world, like Schlage via Nexia, and newcomers like August and Lockitron. There are lots of players and lots of fragmentation.
This fragmentation only makes our product more timely in the market.
Q. Are you Bootstrapped, or do you have Venture Capital or Angel Investment?
A. We bootstrapped for over a year and have also received some Angel investment.
Q. Who makes up your team?
Ed Hemphill – Founder, CEO – Ed was one of the early employees at LifeSize Communications, later acquired by Logitech. He has held positions in software engineering, sales support and management. Ed holds honors from the Phi Kappa Phi society for embedded systems software work for the US Government. Formerly a US Army Signal officer, he served with PSYOPS and later 3rd Special Forces Group including a tour in Afghanistan. Ed earned an MBA from the University of Texas, and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the US Military Academy.
Travis McCollum – Founder, COO – Travis is a lead Product Manager at LifeSize Communications for hardware infrastructure products, specializing in video bridging communications. Travis is a former US Army Signal officer and was stationed at Fort Hood for over five years, making a significant contribution to the Army’s Force XXI technology upgrade. Travis earned an MBA from the University of Texas and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the US Military Academy. Travis is currently *still* employed by LifeSize (not a former employee)
Q. Where are your offices?
A. We are in South Austin, right off Hwy 71. Our address is 4005 Banister Lane, Bldg 3, Suite 100C Austin TX 78704
Q. Who are your customers?
A. Our first customers are home automation enthusiasts and home/commercial AV integrators. We will later focus on specific vertical industries such as Retail and Healthcare.
Q. What is your business model?
A. For now we sell hardware sensors and devices which connect to our cloud service. The cloud service is free. Going forward we will have value added cloud services. The cloud services are a freemium model.
Q. What is the biggest win you’ve had to date?
A. We started a Kickstarter campaign on June 19th, and have raised over 230k to date.
Q. What are the most helpful Austin startup resources that you’ve used?
A. Austin has a ton of experienced tech entrepreneurs who are willing to share advice. There are also software development meetups almost every day downtown. In addition we have received great advice from folks at Capital Factory, Tech Ranch and the RISE group in Austin.
Q. What are the advantages of being in Austin for launching your startup?
A. Austin is loaded with talented software developers, many coming right out of UT. This is huge. Austin is also relatively low cost for office space. Our cost of doing business here is small in comparison to some other cities.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. WigWag will be expanding both our cloud service capabilities and our sensor products. Our system is easy enough for a novice, but powerful enough for a full automation integrator. So we plan to seek out specific vertical markets over the next year.
Q. Anything else you would like to add or say that I have not asked you about?