Challenge: Raising capital and accessing funding for a product that doesn't yet exist
Solution: Offer pre-orders online to demonstrate demand without costing customers a cent
As the owner of an energy audit company, Joshua Green always recommended the use of programmable thermostats. He recognized, however, that for homeowners with electric baseboard heating that recommendation could not be followed.
There was no smart thermostat on the market for them. Until now.
“I found a market opportunity and I investigated the size of that market,” says Joshua, who co-founded Empowered Homes in 2015 with his brother Zachary. The research indicated the market potential in North America is $10 billion.
This year the entrepreneurs officially entered that market with the release of Mysa Smart Thermostats.
“Our smart thermostat is like all of the other smart thermostats out there,” says Joshua, who is CEO of the St. John’s-based company. “You can control it from your phone or tablet. You can interact with your voice. But we are the only thermostat that works with electronic baseboard heating – which is one in three homes in Canada.”
Central to its success was the unique approach the company took to demonstrate both sales potential and market reach. “In the early days, there was no serious investment. We needed to prove there was demand for this product.”
The brothers launched a pre-order campaign. They created a website, complete with order form. However, no customer’s credit card was charged until the product was actually shipped. “The pre-orders enabled us to convince investors to invest in the company and government to give us more funding,” says Joshua. “We encourage others to do this. It unlocks access to money.”
It took a year to verify and explore the market potential, and another year to build the innovative product. This year 20,000 units started shipping throughout North America. The company has secured a listing on Amazon.com and their product can be snapped up off shelves at Kent. Empowered Homes hit sales of $400K in the month of October alone.
“Perseverance is the number one thing I’ve learned,” says Joshua. “Issues come up every day. You need unrelenting perseverance. At the same time, you need 100% assurance what you’re going after makes sense.”
Accessing financial capital is something the Government of Canada recognizes as critical to building, growing and scaling a business. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government is helping Empowered Homes tap into a huge segment of the residential market in Canada and the United States, which up until now has been ignored. An investment of more than $500,000 is helping to commercialize their new, smart thermostat and help realize the company’s potential for high-growth in the clean technology industry.
Empowered Homes is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
Do you have a business concept? Do you have an innovative idea to improve or grow your business? For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to canada.ca/acoa.