Andrew Thomas is the co-founder of SkyBell (www.skybell.com) – a startup pioneering a Wi-Fi enabled video doorbell that allows users to answer their front door from a smartphone. SkyBell raised $585,000 through Indiegogo and was named a 2014 CES Innovations Award Nominee.
SkyBell Technologies develops and manufactures the SkyBell Video Doorbell – a Wi-Fi enabled video doorbell that gives users the ability to see, hear and speak to the person at their front door from their smartphone. More than just a doorbell with a video camera, SkyBell is the smartest video doorbell available and boasts exclusive features including a motion sensor, on-demand access (coming soon) and invisible night-vision.
BusinessInterviews.com: How did you come up with the concept behind Skybell?
Andrew: The idea of SkyBell started when another co-founder realized that she wanted to stay connected to her home while at work or travelling. That idea evolved into a need to know who’s at your door no matter if you’re home or away. We then worked on creating a beautiful device that would stream video to your smartphone and the idea was born.
BusinessInterviews.com: Startups typically need to pivot and evolve their business model over time, especially as customers start to use the product. Can you provide some advice or lessons learned to entrepreneurs on pivoting while keeping your business moving forward at the same time?
Andrew: Pivoting can be a very necessary and important part of a startups life, especially early on. That said, SkyBell has experienced more of an evolution than a pivot. We were able to validate demand early through our crowdfunding campaign and we benefited from feedback that supported our design, feature set and target market. Rather than pivoting per se, we continue to evolve by focusing on the user experience and strengthening the features our customers want.
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you give to a business contemplating launching a crowd funding campaign?
Andrew: There is so much to that goes into a successful crowdfunding campaign. The big question to ask is “Why would someone want to back your project?” Then do as much research as you can. Study the successful campaigns that are in the same segment as your project and understand what made them successful. Recreate those elements in your projects but do so in a way that is unique to you. Be creative and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine. Lastly, make sure you can fulfill your perks.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked really well for you so far?
Andrew: The biggest marketing success for SkyBell was actually the crowdfunding campaign. In a few days we were covered by Engadget, TechCrunch, Techzulu and Fast Company. Both the press and the public gravitated to SkyBell’s innovation and design. That energy created a great deal of attention for us and it was very exciting.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some features of Skybell that you’re most proud of?
Andrew: The best part of a startup is the ability to create a brand new solution that positively impacts users in a real way. SkyBell makes this possible by being more than a doorbell with a video camera. SkyBell’s exclusive motion sensor alerts users even if the person doesn’t press the button and an “on-demand” feature (coming soon) will give users the ability to open the live camera feed from the app. We are most proud of the way SkyBell allows users to take control over their front door and benefit from a new level of convenience, control and safety.
BusinessInterviews.com: Company accomplishment you’re most proud of?
Andrew: While raising $585,000 in our crowdfunding campaign was a proud moment, I’d say the proudest moment was being named a 2014 CES Innovations Award Nominee. This is the same award that NEST won for their smart thermostat in 2012 and it is an honor to be in their company. As a group, our goal is to create the world’s smartest video doorbell and we take great pride in innovating the technology to make that possible. It was a very proud moment to be recognized for our dedication to building an elegant, smart device of the highest quality.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for Your Company?
Andrew: These are very exciting times for SkyBell and it’s hard to name the most exciting thing. The response and demand for SkyBell has been incredible and we are thrilled to see just how many different types of people are using SkyBell to improve this important, yet overlooked, part of everyday life.
We are excited to continue innovating and leading the way for the smart doorbell segment of home automation and to be considered amongst the best brands in the industry. This means pioneering more features and exploring more ways in which SkyBell can play a big role in the connected home. It’s an exciting time for home automation and for SkyBell.
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