“We want to make living effortlessly a reality”

by February 19, 2018 0 comments

In conversation with PC Quest, Virang Jhaveri, Co-Founder & CEO, Picostone, sharing how Picostone can help make your home smarter.

Tell us about the product portfolio?

We are a home automation company that aims to make “living effortlessly a reality”. We found a major gap in the market for controlling appliances at home, so we started with controlling air conditioners, lights, etc. What we do is install a simple device which sits behind the switchboard and lets you control all of this from your smartphone. We need only 15 minutes for installation by a regular electrician & this is our biggest advantage over our competitors. We ship the products from Mumbai, arrange for a regular electrician to install the instrument, and it’s up and running.

Who are your investors?

Nilesh Jain was the first investor. He has been in manufacturing for the past 45 years and has manufactured for Schneider and L&T. And that was the major alignment for us as we could do much better in this space with his support. That’s how it all began for us.

What is the channel through which you are selling?

We sell the products online through our website & social media& we also have a dealer network in place all over India (currently we are available in around 18 cities). We also try to boost our sales by doing campaigns online, which we call “Mad sale”. For our Mad Sale campaign, though, we have slight restrictions, like allowing one email ID and just one device.

Across this network is there a retail or one can purchase the products online?

No, it’s retail. These guys have the retail outlets and they have retail stores through which they are selling. For example – Chennai has one of the biggest distributors of home appliances through which we are channelling our supply.This guy has got 250 shops under him so we started tapping him & through him, we are trying to reach all stores in Chennai. This is a retail product. This is how we are covering the mass market.

With the traditional home automation instruments, it is extremely difficult for them to install their products. It is the person trained staff who can integrate or setup the products. But with us, it’s different as in about 15 minutes the installation is done and the product is up and running. There is no re-wiring, no breaking of walls, and it is just a completely smooth process. This makes our product highly scalable!

We are also in talks with Croma where we will be available soon. We are looking at tapping Vijay Sales’ and Reliance Retail as well. But we want to build on visibility through online campaigns only.

How many dealers and distributors are there?

15 dealers and distributors are there and we have reached 18 cities as of now. Our plan is to reach 45 cities. Our major focus is to tap all the upcoming smart cities and in the next 2 to 3 years we want to be out everywhere.

What are the initiatives taken to reach the consumers?

We are planning to reach out to them through social media. Sowe get to segment them and we target them. For example, for our upcoming campaign, we are targeting Alexa voice control users. With this targeted approach we are able to talk to our relevant audience clearly.

Can you please brief about the second product?

Our second product will be called Polar which is going to be a blaster. It’s going to be a wall mounting plug point, a pluggable device. You plug this in your normal switchboard & there will be small nodes that you can put right next to your television or right next to your set up box. It will basically control all IR devices like the television, set-top box, air conditioner etc.

Not just that but we will also be operating gas leak sensors with this system. The entire feedback is already taken, and we use the app as an Engine Monitor with the help of Butler. Through its smart scheduling we learn how you use your equipment for 21 days and then we give suggestions as to what can be automated. For example, we know you reach home at 7 and so we switch the lights on or air conditioners on for your use.

What are the verticals you are targeting?

We started with home renovation and our entire segment is generally for the home and offices largely. But we are also present in healthcare and hospitality industry where we are giving them a phone tablet & it becomes very simple for them to control the switches. There is a master controller which is your tab that connects all the devices because

you cannot give access to the phone to everyone.So, there is a common tab, put up as control panel inside the hotels and that is how it operates.

How is the pricing model for the overall services &the electrician cost?

Yes, the electrician cost is approximately 250 bucks, so the installation is not expensive. Ideally, our products are priced at 11,800 INR& during the sale you get good discounts.

What is your plan for next 6 months?

For the next six months, we are planning to do focused, niche marketing to increase our sales and launch our new product Polar.

How do you identify your distributors and what is your plan?

So when we began initially it was a lot of searching for dealers online through Just dial and Dialmart. But now a lot is done through references where our existing dealers give us other references in other cities. That’s how we expand. We are also doing a lot of digital marketing so when we do these kinds of sales, we get a lot of reverse enquiry from our dealers and distributors too.

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