Startup look-up! Bright ideas from Germany

Home automation is a high potential market and a dynamically developing industry. A fast-paced market where new ideas by innovative startups are going to be the real game changers in the next years. We’ve already been through the great perspectives of smart-home and the top players with a wide overview on the solutions provided by the US telcos and giants (AT&T, Verizon, ADT, etc.) and the revolutionary products launched by disruptive startups (Revolv, Nest, ThinkEco).

The European industry too is going to be deeply transformed by innovative pushing outsiders. The market is leaded by companies providing more or less technologically advanced home automation solutions, and few startups leading the innovation trends providing revolutionary and cutting edge products or services.

One of the most interesting solutions has been launched by the German startup brightup. The company, based in Hamburg, has invented a cutting edge lighting automation solution based on user friendliness, advanced technology, innovation. It’s basically a turnkey lighting automation system with a centralized hub (the sun), several plugs (stars), an app and a cloud based system to manage it all. With no setup efforts and a limited impact on your budget, you’ll turn your lightbulbs into an integrated smart lighting system.

brightup system - how it works

brightup system – how it works

Following the well established path of Startup look-up! We’ve been interviewing the brightup team to get through their goals, market positioning, and company philosophy. The contagious enthusiasm showed us the appealing features of our future smart-home, right behind the corner!

How was your idea born? How did you set up your startup and put together an effective team? Tell us your experience and the…daring steps of the beginning!

The four founders of the brightup GmbH Ana Cristina Agüero (Costa Rica), Kiran Paul Joseph (India), Sebastian Rösch (Germany) and Maximilian Schmiedel (Germany) met in 2011 during a double master program at the Hamburg University of Technology. One of these masters was an MBA specialized in Entrepreneurship. Because if it, we went through a structured process in order to find the brightest idea, the right business model and to write a complete business plan. We started working full time on brightup in February 2013. In August the Thomas J.C. Matzen GmbH (VC) joined as an investor and brightup has come to have 11 passionate team members and a finalized prototype. Sebastian spent six months in a home automation lab, knowing that technology is there, works and is ready for implementation. While in the labs, he was always wondering when this technology would finally reach everybody´s home. That´s why we started talking about it. We tried out the existing products on the market and were very disappointed! So we decided to create a system that would meet our requirements by ourselves, a context-aware and easy to use home automation solution.

With this goal in mind we started brightup.

How are you managing your funding needs and what’s your attitude towards the global startup environment (university support, startup funding rounds, angel investors, startup awards / contests, etc.)?

I guess we took an unusual way and were quite lucky when it came to the funding. Fairly early in the process of developing brightup, we participated in several meetings with external coaches and industry experts. One of these experts happened to be working for a VC in Hamburg and got us in contact. With his investment we had the required funds to develop the software and the hardware prototypes, as well as the means to build up the great team we have right now. We believe that startups have the potential to shape the future economy of a nation, thus they significantly influence the behavior of society. New companies, with new business models, new ideas and new perspectives will enrich the economic environment and will offer customers alternatives to traditional products and services as well as completely new solutions for the new problems of our time. Many universities, organizations and governments acknowledge this fact and therefore invest in the training of entrepreneurs, the development of new management tools adequate for this kind of enterprise and in the founding of them.

The Northern Institute of Technology Management

The Northern Institute of Technology Management

The Northern Institute of Technology Management (NITHH) where we did our MBAs is specialized on Entrepreneurship and a good example. It provides the necessary information and tools during the seminars for students to start their own company. The NITHH also provided economical support to our startup, including a one year rent-free office space and a great network of professionals and experts in topics related to startups.

What trends are going to reshape the home automation industry? Which startups, in the European scenario, are carrying on the most innovative and cutting edge projects, in your opinion?

We believe that smart home solutions can only be successful in the market and adapted by a larger group of people, if these solutions provide certain benefits in a way, that the installation and setup requires almost no, or very little effort, and the use is even simpler. If you always have to take out your phone to turn on a lamp you will go back to using the same old switch as before, and if you need to refurbish your whole house for thousands of Euros, you’ll probably reconsider your decision quickly. This also counts for most of the other industries. Some startups that are doing an incredibly good job in this are our Hamburg neighbors form Protonet, for example; “the simplest server in the world”, as well as the guys from Mytaxi. They took things that were as complicated as a server system or as old fashion as ordering a cab via calling and made them so simple, that using it is such a charm!

MyTaxi - startup based in Hamburg. The new way for customers to manage taxi calls, payments & invoices, online live monitoring.

MyTaxi – startup based in Hamburg. The new way for customers to manage taxi calls, payments & invoices, online live monitoring.

Protonet - Hamburg based startup providing "The simplest server in the world". A secure, safe and effective alternative to store your corporate files and share your team tasks without relying on third party servers.

Protonet – Hamburg based startup providing “The simplest server in the world”. A secure, safe and effective alternative to store your corporate files and share your team tasks without relying on third party servers.

We’ve been through your website: brightup is a very smart solution. What’s the added value of your product/service compared to the market? What’s your disruptive potential towards leading companies/products?

brightup will be the most easy to use, context-aware home automation solution on the market. It hardly requires any installation or setup efforts and skills and offers real automation so that everyone can use it.

Some more features are:

  • The brightup system is a seamless combination of hardware and software. Our app has different automation behaviors; all you need to do is activate them. No complex set up! The starter bundle provides you with all you need to get started with automating the lights at home.
  • No subscription costs. No third party required. You are independent, autonomous and you always have full control of the system.
  • No additional technology needed. You don’t need to buy expensive Internet routers or additional hardware. brightup is the first step, all you need.
  • Automate and control your home from wherever you are.
  • Share the control with your friends and family, so that you can enable others to control your lights when they’re in the same WiFi.

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