Senic_TheHundertVol10Berlin_Nils_Lucas

Philip Michaelides (Co-Founder, CTO), Felix Christmann (Co-Founder, CDO), and Tobias Eichenwald (Co-Founder, CEO) © Nils Lucas

Senic

Bringing Together Engineering and Design to Build Smart Home Systems

IoT
Founded in 2013
18 employees
Funding Undisclosed

Senic is a Y combinator-backed hardware and software startup, founded in 2013. They develop new ways to experience tech in the home, with the mission to create products that focus on wellbeing, not on stickiness. In 2015, Senic launched NUIMO, a Red Dot and German Design award winning smart home controller, followed by the launch of COVI, a speech-enabled light and open-source hub, in 2017. Senic is based in Berlin and manufactures their products in Germany. Website

Interview with Senic

What inspired you to found your startup?

We often played music through our Sonos speakers in the office and it was frustrating not to have shared control for the music. When we began building NUIMO, we wanted to create something that we, ourselves, would use and love. More use cases and ideas developed thanks to Kickstarter and the awesome feedback from our community. Today, prototype and create products in the same way – by first creating for ourselves and then refining as a direct result of the feedback from our early adopters.

How do you define success for yourself and your company?

We care about making smart home interactions seamless and natural. We want to create experiences with technology that actually improve people’s wellbeing, not just increase their “time on app.” To do this, we have dedicated ourselves and our entire process of building a startup to how we can put users at the center and have a positive effect on them.

Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?

The one thing I can say about the last few years is that we have learned A LOT. Every single one of us has made a million mistakes, but each time we get better as result. I think in the end, it’s about starting simple and providing value to a user. Biggest learning is to not complicate things too much and just make sure you’re always building something people want.

What problem does your product solve?

There is a big gap that we call the “middle market dilemma” – basically the smart home industry is split into two parts: expensive professional systems that require installers and custom integrators and DIY systems that are usually plastic white boxes. We are in the middle because our products work with both large industrial systems and the less expensive brands – all with the best quality materials and design so that Covi and Nuimo are something you’re actually proud to display in your home.

Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?

Reaching more people who are interested in smart home, including first time smart home users, with really well designed interfaces and a system that blends beautifully into their lives.

How are you different?

First and foremost, we care about design and manufacturing. Additionally, we build our system open source because we think this is the best for users (both developers and non-developers).

How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?

We have lots of people who use Nuimo every single day for their music and lighting. Covi is still pre-launch but we expect it will be used similarly if not more so because Coci can streamline and automate your activities in the home.

Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?

We believe that by designing better interfaces and systems focused on human wellbeing instead of on ‘stickiness’ we will be freeing up more time in people’s lives where they are not focused on a phone. This means more time for people to focus on the things they care about and love. Ultimately, improved interactions with technology will have an overall positive impact on individuals’ physical and mental health, relationships and society as a whole.

How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?

It’s awesome to see more hardware startups! We started a newsletter called German Hardware Startups (germanhardwarestartups.com) as a way to pull the scene together. When you build hardware and deal with manufacturing, it’s really important to share information with peers and support each other. That’s why we’re so excited to see more investment, more physical products and more support for hardware in general. Germany is the place for this kind of innovation and its great to see it growing.

What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?

Initially, we were choosing between four cities – Boston, Berlin, Shenzhen and San Francisco. We looked at them all for quality of life, access to talent and manufacturing and investment opportunity. Berlin is behind those other cities in some respect, but we realised that if we wanted to manufacture a product that was this high quality, we needed to be close to our manufacturers throughout the learning process.

Senic was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.

The picture above was taken at:

Hallesches Haus

Hallesches Haus is a cosy and stylish event space that also contains a crafty general store and a kitchen offering healthy breakfasts and lunches.

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