The Virginia-based seed fund adds a new company to its investment portfolio: a startup making significant headway in the home automation industry.
The Launch Place, a nonprofit organization in Danville, Virginia, that provides support and funding for startups in the Dan River Region, recently announced it would be adding a new company to its portfolio. TiO, a home automation startup that has expanded to Raleigh from its headquarters in Florida, became The Launch Place’s thirteenth investment.
This $250,000 seed investment is the fund’s first partnership with a startup within the home automation industry, and it provides enough backing for TiO to expand operations in the Dan River Region (one requirement of The Launch Place investment) and bring at least five employees to the new office.
TiO, short for “Turn it On,” creates hardware and software products that allow for wireless control of the home through a single app on a homeowner’s phone or tablet.
The Launch Place President and CEO, Eva Doss, says one reason the organization chose to invest in TiO is because of the CEO’s previous successes in building startup companies.
Sanjay Patel, TiO’s president and CEO, previously served an executive role at manufacturing services company Anuva, leading medical device design and development. He was also the director of marketing for United Therapeutics, a medtech company with products to meet the needs of patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions.
TiO was acquired by Anuva in 2014, which allowed them to relocate development and manufacturing sites from China to Raleigh and Florida.
The Launch Place was impressed by TiO’s accomplishments thus far, specifically “the market traction they have achieved with home builders and high demand for the product,” says Doss.
TiO’s system is designed for simplicity and convenience, allowing the user to choose when TiO interacts with their lifestyle instead of forcing them to conform to preset controls and rules. The system integrates with various working functions inside a given home, including music and lighting control, climate, cameras, security, televisions and other devices.
Patel says, “With the support of The Launch Place, we will be able to further expose our brand to builders and custom installers throughout the United States.”
Patel and his executive team have drawn out a long-term business development plan with The Launch Place that will last through 2020. TiO also plans to use the The Launch Place’s entrepreneur wrap-around services of mentoring, coaching and business consulting services.
The Launch Place’s investment in TiO brings their investment total to $2.5 million since they made their first deal in 2014.
Boosting brand awareness, racking up awards and accolades
TiO has made a name for itself in the technology industry with this home automation system. Not only was the system selected as a Sound & Vision magazine “Top Pick” in 2016 and a 2017 Consumer Technology Association Mark of Excellence winner, it is also the official home automation solution for Shenandoah Homes, LLC, a residential builder that owns over 1,000 housing lots in seven communities across Wake, Durham and Johnston counties.
In a public statement, Shenandoah Homes President, David Stallings, noted that home automation is a factor of importance to home buyers when shopping for a new home, and TiO is meeting that need with a “feature-rich solution that is cost effective and reliable.”
“Featuring compatibility with many major players in home-automation, TiO can be paired with other solutions, which allows our customers to add to their system at any time and customize it to their expectations,” Stallings adds.
The line of solutions TiO offers, which the company claims is “uncommonly simple,” has withstood reviews and tests to be where they are today. A full home starter kit with 14 pieces of hardware takes around four hours for an authorized installing professional to set up, and is reported to cost up to 30 percent less than a competitor. After installation, the system can be controlled by the TiO Home app.
TiO solutions have the ability to integrate with other smart home solutions like automatic window treatments, door locks and security cameras to maximize on a customer’s investment. Third party integration is a cost effective way for TiO to expand their coverage of a consumer’s house without forcing their customers to get rid of products they already have.
A home system designed for the consumer
Modern home automation can improve a home’s functionality and add to a homeowner’s comfort. Common devices—what some may call “connected home” products—people are installing in their homes include adjustable thermostats, front door cameras that send mobile alerts every time the doorbell rings and alarm systems that can be monitored from mobile devices.
HomeAdvisor.com reported that on average out of 59 profiles, its homeowner members spent around $1,352 to install home automation devices so far this year.
The TiO home automation system revolves around the MasterCoordinator 2 (MC2), a smart wireless access point that connects to a home’s network and communicates with up to 250 TiO system devices.
Popular functional additions TiO offers are audio and lighting controls. Its “auto zone players,” claim to be small enough to avoid encroaching on a room’s esthetic, but powerful enough to put out high-resolution sound that can be synced to multiple rooms. An added perk through all TiO audio devices is that they can automatically switch to the appropriate input once a digital source is turned on.
TiO’s light control system is a customizable switch that allows the user to set one, two or four lighting options. These options, what TiO calls “moods,” include settings like “reading” or “movie.” The TiO light controls can be used with a variety of bulb types such as incandescent, MLV, ELV, LED and fluorescent bulbs. Two of their light control systems can even be used internationally for 220V light bulbs.
TiO products are currently manufactured in Florida by Anuva Manufacturing and are only sold through authorized installing professionals. There are three TiO starter packages for up to two rooms of coverage priced from $950 to $2,700.