I recently read an article about a smart mattresses cover start up that was killing it in seed funding. The device, which claims to be able to track your sleep and adjust temperatures as well as talk to other connected devices, used crowdfunding and pre orders to kick up its startup success.
While it is always cool to see startups have some initial success, I’ve got to say that I’m still a little cautious about smart home tech startups. The big question is: have we, as consumers, reached a place where we can trust startups and crowdfunding with big ticket items? Here are a few of the supporting questions I asked myself after I read about this new smart mattress cover:
Will they have the right security tech?
The problem with our obsession with being constantly connected is that we are constantly vulnerable to hacking. I wonder if a startup is going to be able to raise enough funds to really throw some weight into security. Sure, a mattress cover seems innocent enough – why would hackers want to know my sleep habits? – but the issue starts to arise when you connect your mattress cover with other devices. That shared information is now vulnerable. The average consumer isn’t going to be spending a lot of time with extra layers of security, since they will trust that the brand they bought has done that work for them.
Will they deliver the product?
Crowdfunding projects are a great way to get some really amazing products made, but you have to seriously consider that something unexpected might happen that delays, or cancels, the production or delivery of the product. For smaller products, this might not be a big deal, but for a mattress cover this is bigger deal. Are you willing to drop your hard-earned dollars on this product, know that you will definitely have to wait months, and might have to wait longer? You definitely want to read the fine print that goes along with supporting a smart tech startup. Sure, you could sue if they don’t deliver, but that is a timely and expensive process.
Will they be able to support updates in the long term?
You know how your phone and other devices often push software updates? These might seem annoying, but they are necessary to fix bugs, add features, and block the newest security threats. When you’re dealing with an electronic product, especially a mattress cover that should have a long use life, you need to know that it won’t be completely out of date in a few months. If your mattress cover software isn’t getting updated, but your phone is, it is likely that at some point, your mattress cover app will no longer work with your phone.
Will they be able to survive if big companies produce the same product?
Even if there is initial excitement for the product, and some great funds are raised, will they be able to deal with competition? What if a big name is able to produce a similar product faster, and sells it for a better price? Will the startup be able to keep interest, or will its backers back out?
I don’t have the answer to any of these question, but I know that I’m certainly happy that there are smart tech startups around giving the big names a run for their money and keeping them on their toes.
What do you think? Is an investment in a tech startup a “smart” idea?