TiO is common sense home automation that is uncommonly simple, providing a unique approach to automation and control systems.
Name: TiO Home, Inc
Product / Service Offering: Home automation for the mainstream
Co-founder Interviewed: Sanjay Patel
Other Key Management Team Members: Wade Ficken, CFO; Vinu Patel, Chairman
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
I am married with three wonderful kids. I worked for Fortune 500 companies and in 2008 we started our first company, Anuva. Over the years we acquired a few other companies to complete the vision of developing a design to distribution business.
I like solving problems and engaging with people. I dove into the home automation industry because of the issues that were preventing it from being a mainstream opportunity.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
TiO began in 2014. We were inspired to develop a solution that was simple and easy to use. Home automation has been around for many years but is either too expensive or incomplete. We wanted to develop a product that makes people’s work easier! Home automation must be cost effective and easy to use, that’s what TiO is all about!
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
We are providing a smart home solution for the mainstream market. Our adoption strategy is to go directly to builders. We provide them with a home technology solution that can help them differentiate their homes.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
There are a few things that set us apart from our competitors:
- First, our solution is simple to install and easy to use. We have developed easy methods through software to connect devices together.
- We have specific ways of packaging solutions for builders that are unique to our solution.
- TiO is perfectly designed and priced for the production builder market.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest issues we faced was our go to market strategy. Originally, we were going primarily through the AV dealer and distributor channel. There are about 25,000 dealers in North America and it’s highly fragmented. It was going to be a difficult way to scale the business.
We took a look at the landscape and the demographics trends in the homebuilder market and realized it was perfect. Our solution was simple and removed barriers for home builders, especially those looking for a technology solution for the millennial population.
We had to look outside the traditional channel and see how we could quickly scale our business, and homebuilders were the right direction.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
TiO implemented EOS Traction, which helps entrepreneurial based companies develop an operating system. It is very valuable, and I highly recommend it!
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
I have participated in different funding events and pitched to different angel groups from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. I would have stressed the vision more than the product. At the end of the day, we need to show the vision of the company to investors, and we need to sell products to customers.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We have a great company and a clear adoption strategy with homebuilders that works. TiO has been signed on some of the largest homebuilders in the country and strong regional builders.
We are also working on two significant strategic partnerships with one of the largest distributors in the world and another large retailer.
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