For many people, a smart home is a buggy home, with devices that don’t work well with their mesh Wi-Fi network setup, or a video doorbell that experiences lag no matter how fast the internet speeds are. Solving these bugs can involve spending endless amounts of time on hold with a device maker or embarking on countless reboots of your router. In many cases, no one can really tell you what’s wrong.
That’s because there are so many pieces in the smart home. We have the gadgets, outside hubs, or services to tie different products together, in-home Wi-Fi or even a home broadband connection. It’s a real problem, and one that Tel Aviv-based Veego thinks it has solved.
The startup was created last December by former cybersecurity entrepreneur Amir Kotler, who in addition to being its co-founder is also Veego’s CEO. It has raised $6 million so far, from investors including North First Ventures and Bosch Ventures.
Veego makes a product containing two elements. The first is a cloud-based database of common problems with devices in the smart home. Such problems can range from networking challenges to poorly functioning silicon in a smart TV.
The second element is software that runs on a router inside the home; it monitors what’s happening on the network by passively tracking how that traffic behaves and how it travels around the home. It also proactively pings devices in the home seeking issues. In the proactive phase, the software is performing up to 17 different tests to detect possible problems.
Both elements allow Veego’s software agent on the router to match any issues it finds to behaviors it has stored in its cloud. In doing so, it’s able to offer an insight into what the problem is even before a resident may know a problem exists. All of which sounds awesome. As someone with dozens of smart home devices, I would love this product.
But I’m not Veego’s target market, likely because consumers don’t pay for this sort of functionality, believing it’s the responsibility of the device makers and ISPs to make sure everything works well together. Indeed, Veego sells to ISPs, which often take the calls from disgruntled smart home owners who can’t figure out why their Netflix isn’t streaming properly. According to Kotler, Veego currently has one ISP customer (which remains undisclosed); he hopes to sign up more. Given that his business has only been in existence for 11 months, and especially given how long ISP sales cycles are, having one ISP customer is good.
Kotler says when an ISP gets a notification about a problem it can either fix it (if it’s on the ISP end) or send a notice to the end user telling them they have a problem on their network while also pinpointing the culprit. The goal is to save ISPs the expense of a customer support call, especially one that will be complicated and involve something that the ISP ultimately can’t fix. Having spoken to half a dozen ISPs about smart home troubleshooting, I believe this a product that will find a ready market. We’re already seeing successful ISPs trying to push beyond basic broadband, to smarter Wi-Fi and home security services. I can easily see them layering Veego’s product onto a fee-based service for smart homes or deploying it for free, as a way to cut down on costly support calls.
Eventually, Kotler would like to count among its customers not just router makers but smart home hub makers. These might include SmartThings, whose hub-and-bridge devices connect Bluetooth door locks back to a Wi-Fi network. The Veego product could help ensure that a device is performing in the field and help diagnose any problems it experiences.
And the ability to see problems with a variety of devices in the home presents another business opportunity. If enough ISPs sign up for the product, Veego will have the ability to see poorly-performing devices and flag them for their manufacturers, and potentially do so before too many customers notice the issue. Kotler says that Bosch is on the board of the company precisely because it has an interest in this type of information, and that it could eventually become another source of revenue in a few years.
I like everything about what this company is doing and hope that the ISP sales cycles don’t slow it down.