“I was buying a house in Chicago. If you watch the news you know you certainly want a home security system in Chicago,” Dan Roberts said wryly. He was sitting beside his co-founder Dave Shapiro in Sunnyvale accelerator Plug and Play’s co-working space. On the table across from them sat four unobstrusive plastic boxes.
“I move a lot, and I didn’t want to lock myself into a three to five year contract for home security,” Roberts said. “It was time for the industry to change.”
Roberts and Shapiro believe that those four boxes — their prototypes for the Scout alarm system — are the answer. Like Dropcam for surveillance cameras and Lockitron for locks, Roberts and Shapiro hope that the Scout system they developed will make old security obsolete.
Scout is an Internet based alarm system to detect intruders. When the motion detector or open/close sensors pick up on movement, an alert is sent to the owner’s phone and a loud alarm sounds from the equipment. Unlike typical security systems, users don’t have to sign up for 3-5 year contracts and get heavy machinery installed. Instead, the equipment is lithe enough that it can be moved from one home to another. That means renters — who previously had few options for home security — could use Scout.
In the age of The Internet of Things, these are the types of innovations that are tapping wireless connectivity to change the way we live. After finishing Plug and Play’s insurance accelerator, Scout was chosen as one of the best products out of 35 shown at expo day last week.
Shapiro and Roberts have been working on Scout since last year, and they decided to do a crowdfunding campaign to gage interest in the product. Kickstarter had just rejected Lockitron’s application to run a crowdfunding campaign — because it classified as “home improvement.” At the same time, it had instituted the rule that products need to be shown ‘as they currently are’ at the time of the Kickstarter. As a result, Shapiro and Robert decided to forego the platform, set up their own website for Scout, and crowdfund the same way Lockitron did: independently.
They raised $190,000 in the 30 day time slot they allotted themselves, $10,000 more than their goal. Since that time, they left the campaign open and they’ve raised $345,640 total. Not too shabby.
But they haven’t spent a penny of their more than quarter million dollars yet. They had $100,000 in seed money from incubator Sandbox Industries, so they were using the crowdfunding campaign just to gage customer interest. “Is this something people want?” Roberts says. “If we can prove it, then we can be confident to put more money behind it.”
They used Amazon Payments for preauthorizing all the credit cards to charge people at a later date — when they start shipping out Scout. “A handful of Kickstarter companies have taken the money, spent it and not delivered,” Roberts says. “On our conscience we didn’t want to do that.”
With the prototype already developed, Roberts and Shapiro are headed to China next week to pick a factory for production. They’re shooting for the end of the year to start shipping to backers.