This is the eight in a series of interviews I am doing with new and innovative companies in and around the Smart Lock, Security and Access Control industry. It's time they have a voice and we meet them. If there are any companies you'd like to see highlighted in the future, let me know. I plan to do this regularly. I am open to your feedback and appreciate the heads up. Thank you!
As the physical access control and smart lock industry continues to evolve from mechanical to motorization to connected to now smart, the expectations of what "product" is also evolves. Historically apps have been seen as feature extensions of the hardware where the value of them never really extended beyond emulating the analog way you interacted with the reader or lock. As like with everything in the smart home and smart building once the consumers started to utilize the apps and made them their standard way of interacting, expectations, value, functionality, and performance increased. This also shifted the mindset of how manufacturers managed and spoke of the products apps. They have morphed from a feature to a product themselves. This is a trend that is only going to increase and I would argue is already upon us...we are just catching up. Apps are no longer "nice to haves" and can make or break your hardware product, no matter how great it may be mechanically. One of the issue companies in our industry have is budgeting, hiring, and prioritizing app development like a product. It is hard and expensive to do it right. One alternative is to work with firms who have depth of expertise, resources, and a proven system of performance. Which leads me to a conversation I had with Yana Welinder, CEO, and Nicky Leach, CTO, of Kraftful. They are a company out of Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 class and are fresh off a $1M raise to help manufacturers make apps more aware, better, smarter, and more dynamic (not only for the consumers but for the business itself). Below are their answers to the 5 questions we usually discuss.
As always, please let me know what you think and if there are any companies I should highlight. Thank you!
1. Tell us a little about your business?
As Internet connectivity is coming to every object around us, Kraftful’s mission is to make connected products usable by more people so that these products become truly useful.
We provide mobile and voice interfaces for smart home products, that are optimized for usability and constantly improved based on how users interact with those products.
2. What markets and verticals do you serve? Why is the smart lock / access control business one of the key focuses of your company?
Today we serve hardware companies that provide smart locks, lights, switches, plugs, thermostats, and cameras. We focus on these categories because they currently cover some of the more useful smart home use cases.
Over time, we plan to all serve the long tail of smart home applications like fridges, leak detectors, and pool cleaners.
3. What is one thing that you were surprised to find out about the security/lock/access control industry?
Given our experience developing digital products used by millions of people, we were shocked by the lack of analytics in smart lock apps.
Many apps are developed by agencies, who don’t have the incentive or experience to implement the analytics necessary for developing a widely used smart home app.
4. What are some tips you’d have for companies who recognize UX/UI and their app’s as important to their business?
Most companies need to drastically change their smart home apps based on interaction data and continue iterating on the experience.
Find a friend who doesn’t have any smart home products, bring your product as a gift, and quietly watch them set it up. Remember that they’ll have much more patience than most of your users because they’re your friend. Now, imagine how much better your product could be if you had access to that type of interaction data from all of your users.
The fast way to get there is to just get a Kraftful app for your smart lock! :)
5. Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Kraftful will be the standard user experience for connected products. Similar to how companies today use Stripe for payment or Twilio for talking with their users when building an online product, Kraftful will be the solution for building a connected product.