In 2016 Juho Häkkinen and Tuomas Koski founded Pindora Oy, a company specialized in IoT and Smart Home products and solutions. Its first product, Pindora smart lock, was launched in 2019, and the second-generation smart lock will be launched in 2020.
Juha and Tuomas have known each other since their youth. The idea for the smart lock came, as so many good ideas: from the own need and an a-ha moment.
Juha was expecting an important letter to home, but he was staying in his second home/summer house, located 300 kilometers away from Helsinki. ”I needed to know if the letter had arrived, but none my friends had a spare key to my home. I decided to drive the 300 kilometers to Helsinki, just to see that the letter was not there. After that, I drove back to the summer house.”
Juha and Tuomas started to think what would be required to open a door remotely. They concluded that developing a device connected to the internet could be a good solution.
Juha tells that their target became to create a smart device which is safe, can be installed to any door and that can open any existing lock. ”Additionally, the device needed to be easy to install so that anybody can do it in 30 seconds without any tools.”
Product R&D consists largely of finding answers to open questions and learning new things
Tuomas and Juha had earlier experience from working in IT and business. They did not have any experience of creating a physical device, and in the beginning of the project they spent almost 100% of their time in finding answers to an array of questions and learning about new things. Sometimes Google was the best help.
”We knew what kind of component we would need, but we did not know what it was called. By googling we found images of the right components and contact details of the manufacturers,” Tuomas laughs.
Despite of the challenges, the first demo device was created quickly, in six weeks.” But the way from that to mass production is really long. It is totally different to produce 20 pieces of protos costing 600 euros than to produce a working device to consumers. In addition to the production, you have to plan the whole chain – production, sales channels, marketing and financing,” Juha ponders.
The support from IoT Paja expedited the R&D
Towards the end of the summer 2017, Juha and Tuomas attended a fair with the purpose of finding component suppliers. There they met ”three happy guys”, who told that they work for IoT Paja.
As a result of this encounter, the Pindora product was partially developed in Iot Paja. Working there speeded the product development significantly. The team learnt ”heaps” both about R&D and product testing.
”Paja experts are top professionals in these areas, and very nice to work with, too. We could ask them anything related to product development. They were always able to tell us what the technology limits/limitations were, and to which directions we could develop our product,” Tuomas says.
In IoT Paja people also understood the clock-speed of a start-up well: a recently started company needs to test quickly its idea. ”Paja guys were truly interested in our problems and asked exactly the right questions from us. Their speed and flexibility helped us to take even the difficult processes through quickly,” Juha thanks the team.
Pindora smart lock development took a big leap in IoT Paja. ”Teams working in IoT Paja can receive financial support to the project, and that helped us a lot, as we get majority of our start-up financing by working as IT consultants,” Tuomas explains.
Co-development with pilot customers is the key
Juha tells that the co-development with pilot customers and listening to their needs and feedback has been essential throughout the project. The smart lock has been tested in real life circumstances – at homes and with different industries - throughout the development process.
”Our smart lock has been installed at construction sites, where it has given all the various teams working there at different times flexible access to the site to . We have also piloted the lock in co-working spaces, where the turnover of the people is big, and people often work 24/7. With the smart lock, the elderly home care services have resolved the eternal challenge of circulating the customer keys from one person to another,” Tuomas explains.
Pindora smart lock was launched in early 2019. It met all the original specs that were given at the start of the project: it is safe, it can be installed to any door and lock, and it is easy to use. In 2020 the second generation of the lock will enter the market. It is targeted at both companies as well as consumers.
”It was really important for us to keep constantly in mind the difference between the value to the customer and the value of creating such a device. The value that our customers get with this smart lock is that they can control access to any space. Pindora is just a device that makes this happen. For customers it is not that important what kind of device gives them the access control. They choose a solution that fits them best: be it a guard, a traditional key or an e-lock. I believe that we have created a competitive solution,” Juha summarizes.
See how Pindora works on this video tutorial/product demo video: www.pindora.fi
Juha’s and Tuomas’s “do’s” for a R&D project
- Talk openly about your idea with as a many people as possible. All the feedback is good, but not all advice is actionable. Listen to what people say but use your own judgement when making decisions.
- Test your own assumptions about the business and customer needs as quickly as possible. It is good to iron out any errors in the early part of the project and avoid unnecessary work.
- Doing one thing well is usually enough. Customers often think that a small and simple solution beats a pervasive and complex one.
- Marketing is part of the R&D project. Do quick pilots with different user groups to identify their needs and write initial marketing messages based on the solution. After this, create solution features that match them. When you have a clear idea of whom you are developing a solution for and how you will communicate about it, your R&D project will stay customer focused.
Pindora Oy (https://www.pindora.fi) is a Finnish technology start-up.
Founded in 2016
Founders: Tuomas Koski and Juha Häkkinen
Products: IoT and Smart Home products and solutions