Heavy interviewed the two founders, Ryan Fant and Nayeem Hussain. Here’s the insight they gave into their company that changes the way we regulate temperatures in our homes.
1. The Founders Met at NYU
They were both pursuing MBAs at New York University’s Stern School of Business. When asked how their New York City location had helped launch their company, Hussain said:
There are world-class universities in the area producing amazing design and engineering talent as well as marquee hardware companies like MakerBot, Canary, and Quirky further raising the profile of New York’s hardware scene. Also, being in the financial capital of the world doesn’t hurt when looking to raise capital for a business.
The men were pitching at the NY Hardware Meetup and mentioned that they were seeking technical expertise. That is how they met their technical co-founder, Will McLeod.
2. The Idea Came in Ryan’s Apartment
Fant, who has experience as a consultant for Fortune 500 manufacturing and distribution companies, got the idea because his bedroom had only one vent that would give off too much air during the night.
He thought how great it would be if he could control the air with his smartphone and knew the product did not yet exist. When he went to visit his parents over Thanksgiving that year, he started to envision the bigger picture of vents being used throughout an entire home to regulate the temperatures.
He then employed the assistance of his classmate, Hussain. Fant explained, “Nayeem has a vast amount of leadership experience across various industries, including finance, real estate, and technology.
3. It Controls Room Temperature With a Smartphone or Tablet
Fant explained to us that, on average, homes have two to four rooms that are either too hot or too cold. Their system actually reduces the running time of central heating and cooling systems by 30 percent.
The Smart Vents use a low-power wireless network to connect to a central hub in your home. This hub can be controlled from any smartphone or tablet in order to set the temperature to your liking. You can use the Smart Vent with preexisting floor, wall and ceiling air vents in just a few easy steps.
4. They Used Indiegogo to Raise Money
In 2013, after they participated in TechCrunch Disrupt NY Startup Battlefield, a startup launch competition, they put their product on Indiegogo. See their crowdsourcing campaign here.
They more than met their goal, raising $40,234. Although they got useful feedback and were able to gauge interest, looking back, Fant thinks they should have waited longer. “…we did launch our campaign too early in the life of the company. Had we waited until the product was closer to market, we believe we could have inspired more confidence from prospective backers,” he explained.
5. You Can Find Them in Lowe’s This Summer
After their participation in 2013’s TechCrunch Disrupt, Hussain’s friend from elementary school, who happened to be a contractor at Lowe’s, reached out to him on social media.
He offered to introduce the founders to the Vice President of Lowe’s Smart Home Business Unit, and the rest goes down in retail history.
As far as what other Keen products you may find in stores one day, Hussain said that their next one focuses on flood prevention in homes with sump and sewage pumps. “Keen Home will continue to develop hardware and software solutions for the home with the goal of allowing your home to finally start taking care of you,” he said.
Also on this episode: