If a thousand companies make their own smart light bulb, will a thousand companies have to design a light switching application to control them?
Kraftful, a company in the summer class of Y Combinator 2019, does not believe this. Kraftful builds the many components an IoT / smart home company might need, dividing the puzzle into applications for each company, without requiring them to reinvent the light switch (or lock button, or smart thermostat dial) for nthe third time
Because no company wants an application that looks identical to a competitor's, much of what Kraftful produces is built to suit each company's brand – all surface-level stuff, such as iconography, fonts, colors etc. they are customizable. However, under the hood, everything is built to be reused.
This focuses on finding parts that can be built once it makes sense, especially given the team background. CEO Yana Welinder and CTO Nicky Leach were previously Product Manager and senior engineer, respectively, at IFTTT – a zillion web service that can be reused, applying interconnected "recipes" that allow you to connect just about anything (Gmail) , Instagram, your cat litter box, whatever) in anything else to let one action trigger the other.
Then why now? Every day, more intelligent devices appear on the market, many of them coming from home appliances companies that do not have much (or any) history in building smartphone applications. The good apps are the exception: the Philips Hue app is one of the best ones out there and it is even sometimes a little lucrative. Many of them are … very bad.
Incorrect apps get bad App Store reviews and bad sales reviews. And even for those who dive in and buy it without first checking reviews, bad apps mean returned devices. According to this iQor survey from 2018, 22% of smart home customers give up and return their products before putting them to work.
"I looked around and realized that 80% of all smart home apps have zero, one or two stars in the App Store," Welinder tells me.
Knowing what works and what doesn't work with buyers is a strong point of Kraftful's approach; behind the scenes, they can run all kinds of analysis on how users actually interact with the components of the applications they power and can adjust them all accordingly. If you make a change to the configuration process in one application, will more users actually get to the end? That's great. Now it's running everywhere.
"If you look at some of the most important smart blocking applications, they all have very … very similar interfaces. Basically, they have come to a standardized user experience, but they are all individually developed, ”says Welinder. "Thus, all these companies spend the resources to design and develop these applications, but they do not get the benefits of being standardized on all plans and being able to use the data from all these applications to improve them all. "
Kraftful builds the app for both iOS and Android, adapts it to the needs of the brand, provides cloud functionality, such as push notifications and business history, provides analytics for information on how users actually use an application, and keeps everything running as it is. operating system updates are rolling out and device display sizes are growing larger and larger.
Of course, the whole concept of a dedicated smart home app has quite a bit of competition – between Apple HomeKit and Google Home, platform makers seem to be quite ready to put a lot of functionality into operation. But most buyers still wait their brilliant devices to have their own applications – something branded and specially built, something for the manual to indicate. In the meantime, energy users will always want to do things beyond all-encompassing solutions such as HomeKit / Home.
People at Google seem to agree with Kraftful's approach – the team views Google's Assistant Investment Program as one of the $ 1 million investors raised. Other investors include YC, F7 Ventures, Cleo Capital, Julia Collins (co-founder of Zume Pizza and Planet Forward), Lukas Biewald (co-founder of CrowdFlower), Nicolas Pinto (co-founder of Perceptio) and a host of other angels . investors.
Welinder tells me he is already working with several companies to start supplying their applications; DNAs keep her from saying who she is right now, but she notes that they are "some of the biggest brands that offer smart lights, sockets / switches, thermostats and other smart home products."