Ottawa-based Blacksumac has raised over $137,000 on crowdfunding website Indiegogo by pre-selling its brand of home security system.
By Jacob Serebrin
With the campaign running until Sept. 20, the company is now aiming for $200,000.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Russell Ure, the company’s president and co-founder. “We set out in this campaign to get validation.”
Blacksumac’s Piper is a camera-equipped home security and automation device that sends security alerts directly to a user’s smartphone or tablet.
Launching a campaign on Indiegogo, rather than attempting to get their product into stores through more traditional methods, was a key part of the company’s strategy, said Mr. Ure.
“It allows you to pre-sell significantly earlier than any other channel,” he said. The company is currently in talks with a large box store – Mr. Ure declined to name the company – to get Piper on the shelves.
However he said selling the product months in advance wouldn’t have been possible if the company had only gone that route.
“You get a chance to test your market,” he said.
Going the crowdfunding funding route also allowed the company to gather feedback about the product before it launched.
“We’ve learned a lot,” said Mr. Ure.
He said that customer concern over the security of data stored in the cloud prompted the company to give users the option to store recorded data locally.
The company also expanded their target market through the process.
“Initially, we started off focusing on apartments,” he said. “Most people who live in apartments don’t have security systems.”
According to Mr. Ure, many people who live in apartments don’t have the money for an expensive security system and many landlords don’t like the large amount of wiring and extensive installation process required by traditional systems.
But during the crowdfunding campaign, the company noticed that homeowners were also interested in the device.
The company began testing the device in April and they plan to begin shipping in November. The Piper’s enclosure is being manufactured in Ottawa, with the electronics and assembly being handled at a factory in Toronto.
Mr. Ure describes the system as “self-monitored.” He said it uses automation to notify users of a potential security situation by email, text message or phone call. Users can then check the on-board video camera immediately and decide what action to take.
The Piper is also a “smart home hub,” allowing users to monitor and adjust things like the temperature in their house and turn lights on and off remotely, Mr. Ure said
Blacksumac was founded in August 2012, after Mr. Ure sold his previous company, Rove Mobile, which made software that allowed IT professionals to monitor computer systems remotely.
But after that, Mr. Ure said he didn’t want to develop an another app
“I wanted to develop a product that was hardware based,” he said. “In Ottawa we have a lot of strong hardware developers.”
Seeing an opportunity to “disrupt” the expensive and false-alarm prone home security market, he began developing the Piper.
Currently, the system is pre-selling for $209, which nets a single device, and $599, which provides a three device “house kit.”