Westinghouse, a brand well-known for supplying both big electrical equipment and smaller household appliances, is turning to a crowdfunding platform to sell its latest invention. The 129-old company is using Indiegogo to launch its Nucli smart lock on Tuesday morning in an effort to find early adopters to act as an testing group for the product.
Kevin Henderson, CEO of Westinghouse Security told Fortune that he hoped the early adopter crowd that tends to support products on crowdfunding sites would help provide high-quality feedback on the Internet-connected Nucli lock. “We didn’t want to know what the average person thinks of this feature set,” Henderson said. “That type of feedback isn’t very accurate and difficult to tie in to the product, so we went direct to where we hoped the early adopters would be. We have a finite amount of engineering resources and we wanted a nice robust debate with the customer.”
He should be able to get that. One of the benefits of the various crowdsourcing platforms is the customers tend to be very vocal, but as many of the startups who have chosen to launch there can tell you, success on Kickstarter or Indiegogo doesn’t necessarily translate into success in the real world. In fact, I’ve spoken with a few entrepreneurs who have chosen to pull back on campaigns intended to fund their businesses, although that’s different from using them as a way to launch their products.
Chris Bruce, CEO of Sproutling, the maker of a connected baby monitoring device, explained on a recent podcast that using crowdfunding as a way to raise money for production meant that your customers might end up waiting too long, but it also didn’t necessarily translate into the mainstream market wanting the product that you built. Henderson may want to take note of that, since the Nucli smart lock that Westinghouse is building is a really complicated—and expensive—piece of equipment.
The lock isn’t just the standard connected lock that opens with an app on your smartphone. It also has a keypad, a video camera, a two-way microphone and a screen, functioning as both a lock and a video doorbell. It can also take messages. That may explain its high price tag—it will cost between $249 and $349 on the Indiegogo campaign, and then retail for $439 next year in stores. Even considering that it combines the function of a $200 smart lock and a $200 connected video doorbell, that may be a hard sell for folks.
The Nucli locks sold via the Indiegogo campaign will ship this winter, starting in November, and the retail version of the lock won’t ship until the middle of next year. So if you want an all-in-one smart amalgamation on your door and don’t mind giving feedback, then now is the time to get one.
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