15 minutes instead of eight hours

Smart home configuration has been very time-consuming up to now, but a Passau-based start-up now wants to change that. Business customers in particular should benefit from Pionize's offer.

Things don't happen quite as quickly as in the film series "Back to the Future". Otherwise, flying cars would have been around since at least 2015. The forecasts of screenwriters regarding networked homes were much more precise. What seemed futuristic in the film "Minority Report" almost 20 years ago has long since become reality, such as entertainment systems controlled by voice recognition. What none of these films showed, however - for good reason, because it would be terribly boring - is the immense expense involved in installing a smart home system. In a study, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits came to the conclusion that at least eight hours of training are required before the refrigerator, light switch and television communicate with each other and with the respective controller without any problems.

This is a major obstacle on the way to a breakthrough in technology. Four students from the small university town of Passau also recognized this and founded Pionize last year. At first, they were thinking of a solution for end consumers, but now they're going all out for business customers. As of today, the Bavarians' whitelable configurator solution is on the market.

"We are thinking primarily of real estate companies or electronics retailers"

Maximilian Hauke, head of Pionize

"With our configurator, it only takes 15 minutes to put together a smart home," says founder Maximilian Hauke. He launched the company in 2019 with his partners Alexander Lerach, Tymofii Melnyk and Mirabror Mirzokhidov. The reason for the immense time savings: Pionize relieves customers of the work of combining products from different providers.

The priority at the moment is the white label solution that other companies can integrate into their offering. "We are thinking primarily of real estate companies or electronics retailers," says Hauke. If, for example, an apartment is sold or rented, the company can offer the buyers directly to book corresponding smart home functions in addition. The company itself then pays Pionize in turn.

This is what Pionize's product is supposed to look like. (Photo: Pionize)

At Pionize, they rely on an algorithm that helps customers put together the right system for them. This is to be done on the basis of just seven questions. Afterwards, users can order all products via Pionize, and in the end they should also control it via the Pionize app. "Currently, companies like Philips, Nuki and Osram are specialized in their own areas. So it's unfortunately the rule that an extra app is usually needed to control the brand," Hauke said. Closed systems are also available for purchase, but there is a lack of choice for individual components.

End consumers won't see the product any time soon

Hauke does not want to reveal how the interfaces with the individual suppliers work; that is a company secret. Only so much he says: "With us all brands are compatible.We unite so all in our platform." The company earns money through commissions for referring customers to dealers, and also for providing the smart control function, i.e. the control system.

But as good as this idea sounds, end users aren't likely to get their hands on it anytime soon. Instead, Pionize has made a classic pivot during development, from B2C to B2B. "We just realized that the end consumer market is very competitive," Hauke said. The founders therefore initially saw greater opportunities in the business customer market.

The founders financed the start-up largely out of their own pockets, and there was also support from the Bavarian State Ministry. By August, Pionize was fully financed. "In the long term, however, we are still looking for a strategic partner," says founder Hauke. The company is currently in talks with potential investors, and the money is to flow into both the technology and the staff, which currently consists only of the founders and four interns.

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