San Francisco-based Axius, a home-technology integration firm, has more than 500 smart-home customers on a monthly service plan that includes remote monitoring and tech support for their connected devices.
And the company is just four months old.
With concept proved, Axius is rolling out the same recurring-revenue (RMR) program to other home-tech pros at CEDIA 2017 in September.
Axius employs an IoT monitoring platform from Domotz and Fing, adding special sauce to Domotz’s existing solution to create an intuitive app for end users, and rich tools for integrators.
“It’s like Domotz on steroids,” Axius founder Colin Barceloux tells CE Pro.
Other home-tech pros can get in on the action via Axius’s new partner program. Dealers sell the service to their own customers, hook the box up to the network, and leave the rest of the work to Axius.
Axius remotely monitors and manages the client networks, troubleshoots issues as they arise, fixes some problems on the fly (maybe a quick reboot), and takes end-user tech-support calls – the same service Axius provides its own customers.
If a truck roll is required, Axius notifies the dealer.
The Price of Outsourcing
Axius charges dealers on a sliding scale, but its services will be priced such that dealers make money if they charge the same as Axius charges its own customers — from $4.95 per month for self-monitoring to $24.95 for a full-service plan that includes “proactive fixes and updates,” and “unlimited access to our certified tech experts.”
Barceloux says Axius might add another tier for integrators who desire more premium services.
Axius’s help-desk can support any subsystem that Domotz supports, from IP devices like routers, iPhones, Sonos and TiVo … to ZigBee devices attached to Control4 systems and Cresnet devices attached to Crestron.
To be sure, Domotz isn’t the only remote-monitoring solution for connected homes. Ihiji was first about seven years ago, and today SnapAV’s OvrC (now with no recurring fees) is becoming a top contender. Krika is in the game, as are some advanced networking products that offer device discovery and remote management.
The problem with all of these solutions, however, is 1) professional integrators don’t know what to do with them and 2) they can’t sell them.
Let’s say an installer gets an alert indicating a client’s home-automation system is on the fritz or the cable box needs rebooting. Who is supposed to tend to these issues proactively, when the whole company is in the field? It’s easier just to wait for the call.
And that’s why (2), they can’t sell ‘em. Smaller companies, i.e., most integrators, can’t commit to that level of support, so they don’t sell the service.
Most integrators can deploy Domotz (and similar systems) to their customers, “but it still requires dealers to do all the support themselves,” Barceloux says.
For its part, Axius has developed a consumer-facing app for Domotz, allowing users to customize alerts based on network activity, say, if a new device comes online or the ZigBee network goes wonky. (Domotz has “pretty robust APIs,” Barceloux says.)
“The challenge with Domotz is that it doesn’t really have consumer-facing capabilities,” Barceloux says, quite generously. “I think there’s an opportunity for us to put a consumer-friendly face on it.”
At the end of the day, Barceloux explains, “We take the underlying infrastructure that Domotz provides, add software, and then back it up with a full-service help desk.”
Working with Axius, he adds, allows dealers to sit back and relax, while providing exceptional service to their customers, and earning RMR in the process.
Who the Heck is Colin Barceloux?
Who does this guy think he is, marching into our industry out of the clear blue, and thinking he can roll out his smart-home service model to other home-tech pros … after a mere four months on the job?
Barceloux does have some clout, not least of which is amassing 500-plus customers, each paying up to $25 per month, in a very short time.
While Barceloux might be new to our particular channel, the Stanford MBA has a history of building Web-centric service companies that scale easily and generate recurring revenue. It doesn’t hurt that he has a background in management information systems (MIS).
Before Axius, there was BookRenter, a book-rental platform; then Techmate, an Uber-type service for home-IT needs; and also Le Tote, a clothes-sharing service for the fashion-minded.
Currently, Axius employs 12 people. Today it competes with companies like OneVision, which also was founded by integrators who successfully sold remote-service programs to clients, particularly at the high end (using Ihiji).
Unlike OneVision’s 24-hour service, Axius will launch with 12-hour support, adding more hours later on.
Barceloux says Axius can provide its service so affordably to other dealers because the company is already building out the platform – people, processes and technology – to support its own large and growing customer base.
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