Help Wanted

, posted: 29-Dec-2006 20:58

Yo Ho Ho ……Merry Xmas etc etc…

And what am I doing this Xmas season? Why writing a business plan of course, and what a royal pain in the butt it is proving to be. The thing is, that the product/service we are offering is relatively complex and I am having difficulty explaining it in words of one sylable that the investors will understand…

 Let me explain…

What we have developed (and are about to redevelop to make better) is a digital home entertainment management system that deals with the convergence issues and presents the consumer with a “simple” user interface to control their environment.

 Basically what we have is an intelligent hub “NEO” that will live in the basement or attic and provide the management services for a wide range of domestic activities such as:

 TV recording (like Tivo)

Sky Management (like Mysky)

CD jukebox (like Ipod)

DVD timeshift (like …dunno)

Intenet Access (like a PC)

Home Automation (like lights, switches etc)

Surveillance cameras (like Swann recorder)

VoIP services (like Skype)

Plus other stuff

 Associated with the system is a range of control options; remote control, PDA, Touch screen, and PC.

 Implementations can have a single server, or they can have a server and associated client units driving A/V equipment in a number of different zones and so on…..

 I am currently rewiring my home to accommodate the system but at some stage soon I will have the following capability…..

 The NEO server will live in the attic and deliver A/V services to the master bedroom.

The server will have three tuners, one for Sky, one for FTA TV and one for Surveillance.

The family room will have a client unit connected to the server delivering video to a 37” LCD panel and also controlling the family room lights via a c-bus dimmer.

The office PC and family laptop will use the server as a central common store or  “bit bucket”.

The Lounge will have a client unit connected to the projector and 5.1 sound system.

The server will provide full PBX functionality so that VoIP and analog phones can talk to one another.

 On the control side, the bedroom will have an RF controller, the Lounge will have an IR controller and the family room will have a radio keyboard control so that my wife can readily access the Cuisine website or check her e-mail on the family room LCD.

I will utilise my dual mode phone to control any of the systems in the house. When I enter the WiFi zone, the dual mode phone will automatically connect to the network and henceforth all phone calls will be via the analog line (or VoIP if that is more cost effective), When I leave my WiFi “bubble” the phone will one again revert to being a standard cell phone.

 I haven’t explained all of the intricate features available, but hopefully you get the general idea…

 Now how do I explain this in one sentence? All and any advice will be gratefully accepted….



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Comment by Grant17, on 29-Dec-2006 23:35

Hi Glynn,

I had a look around your web site and I think your system is explained really well there. Home Automation has been an interest of mine for some years because I plan to build our dream house in a few years time.

If your investors can't understand the language on your web site, maybe you need to find some more technically savvy investors!

The Block Diagram you have made shows things pretty clearly I would have thought, even to someone of limited technical understanding.

That's just my 2c worth, maybe not what you wanted to hear.

P.S. I noticed you don't have many resellers yet. Does your Auckland reseller handle the Northland area?

Comment by tonyhughes, on 30-Dec-2006 01:42

You probably need to engage the (paid) services of someone who will take the time to understand the product, and help pitch it in a way that will increase the likelihood of acceptance by potential backers.

Comment by freitasm, on 30-Dec-2006 09:07

You don't necessarily neede a tech savvy investor, but you have to reach their level of product perception. Ideally an "elevator pitch":

An elevator pitch (or elevator speech) is a brief overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The pitch is so called because it can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (say, thirty seconds or 100-150 words).

As suggested you can try and come with this yourself, and pass (secretly) through some friends to see if they understand. Then try reaching an investor.

Other thing is to create a three sentence definition of you business. Similar to the pitch, but aimed at explaining it to consumers instead. I know some people who had rounds of e-mails to friends to perfect a three sentence definition, and it worked well.

Comment by sbiddle, on 30-Dec-2006 19:48

I think your hardest task is actually convincing people they will actually be better off with the system. Sure - it's like paradise for a geek but with the cost of such a system ranging from a few thousand up to tens of thousands but how many people will actually pay for such a system?

I have many of the features you have in Neo but put together in different bits. My main server runs ClarkConnect & Asterisk (since my house if 100% VoIP) and has my music and video collection on it. I have a PVR running GB-PVR and PC's all over the house. I've also had a quick play with some Clipsal C-Bus stuff I borrowed.

The outcome? I now record TV shows but still don't have any time to watch them. I have my entire music collection of 300+ CD's on a server that I never listen to because the only time I ever really listen to music is in the car and as for home automation I just can't really understand the need. Turning a light switch on manually isn't that hard! :-)

That isn't to say there isn't a market for your product because there is. IMHO there are two distinct markets - those who understand how the system works and want it because it's seriously cool and those who have no idea how it works but want it because it's seriously cool. Windows MCE is cool yet very few people have a MCE box hooked up to their lounge room big screen. Why? Is it because they are scared of the technology?

Comment by freitasm, on 31-Dec-2006 00:22

You might want to have a read on Guy Kawasaki's blog:

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Glynn Hooper
New Zealand

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.