Kenya might not seem like the logical place right now to launch an Internet of Things (IoT)-based home automation startup, but the Nairobi-based Flint Home Integrators is making a valiant stab at it.
Launched last year and formally incorporated in February, Flint Home Integrators is a bespoke commercial and residential integration company.
The startup designs, engineers and installs integrated home technology solutions that allow various systems to work collectively. Its services include smart lighting, audio-visual services, smart security systems and distributed audio, allowing quick and easy control of any electrical device in a house.
Founder Steven Ngosia believes there is a need for quality services in an industry that is untapped in Kenya and the East African region as a whole.
“Our focus begins with user experience in monitoring and controlling of their premises and ends with utmost customer satisfaction,” he told Disrupt Africa.
Ngosia launched Flint in response to what he believes is an increasing demand for quality consulting and design services on audio-visual, lighting and automation, and the absence of product differentiation in the high-end residential and commercial real estate industry.
“In my informed opinion, there currently exists no competition in Kenya as it is quite a niche market and product that very few would want to venture into,” he said.
Privately funded by the savings of Ngosia and his business partner, Flint is currently bootstrapping as it looks for investors to enable it to set up a show house and train its staff. The idea has been slow to take off, but Ngosia is confident of success and hopes to expand beyond Kenya into other East African countries in the next year.
“The uptake has been rather slow considering the fact that this is an election year and real estate developers have taken a “wait and see” approach. Currently we are working with a few clients on the consultancy side of the business, with one major regional resort city project in the pipeline,” he said.
“The biggest challenge so far has been the lack of product awareness, and the proliferation of substandard DIY hardware.”
Another challenge is that IOT-based home automation is a fairly new concept on the African continent.
“Many developers find it difficult to understand the need for fully integrated products despite the fact that there are residential properties selling at US$1 million and commercial properties with five star ratings but not much value addition,” said Ngosia.
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