Korner looks to shake up the DIY home security market

Although do-it-yourself home security solutions have historically been seen as niche products with limited applications, their popularity has risen significantly in recent years with the innovations that wireless technology have brought about in the connected home market. Many consumers are also tech-savvy enough to install their own alarm panels, intrusion detectors and even surveillance cameras with little or no technical assistance. Now a new startup company called Korner is looking to make DIY home security easier and more affordable than ever before.

According to Steve Hollis, the company’s CEO, Korner can be an entry point for anyone into home security and uses unique one-piece tag sensors placed on the corners of doors and windows that communicate with a router FOB to send messages to a free app that the user downloads on their smartphone. A mechanical engineer with a background in the high-tech industry, Hollis said he came up with the idea to create a home security solution that everyone could afford after having dinner one night with a couple (both college-educated and working) who, after looking into several traditional security systems, couldn’t find anything that fit into their budget.

“That just shocked me, and I was like if this couple can’t afford home security, then what about everybody else? That just stuck with me for a while and I finally decided that there was something that needed to be done there and something that could be done,” Hollis said. “If you look at the industry and the types of products they offer and the price points, there is certainly room for something that is a lot cheaper and a lot more people could afford. And we put together a bunch of engineers, we got to work on the problem and we came up with a solution.”

The basic package, which sells for $99, includes one FOB and three tags with no recurring fees of any kind. The system, which can be installed in as little as two minutes, is completely managed by the user with the smartphone app. Professional monitoring services are not available with the Korner solution nor is it likely that it will be an option on the system moving forward, according to Hollis

“One of the things that we really help people out with is when they setup their app, they can also populate that app with the contacts in their phone – friends, family and neighbors – so that if they get an alert, they just press one button and it immediately forwards everything to that ‘security circle,’” explained Hollis. “We’re really making efforts to make it as easy as possible for people to leverage their own community and to deal with these things themselves. When you start throwing call center monitoring in there, it really increases the cost and that’s one of the reasons why existing security systems are out of the reach of many people.”

In addition to keeping the price point down, Hollis said the exclusion of monitoring services also will help customers avoid the alarm registration requirements in many municipalities and their associated fees. “It just brings up a whole layer of complexity and nuisance that we think that people just don’t want,” he said.

Hollis believes that the real “catalyst” for Korner was finding a way to turn two-piece sensors tags into the one-piece tag that they were able to come up with and currently have a patent pending on. “Not only is it easier to use, but it also works better and, quite frankly, it looks better too. If you look at Nest and a lot of those home electronics products, there’s a real premium put on these products that sort of have design aesthetics to them,” Hollis added.

Hollis said that they would like to introduce other components to the solution, such as entry point keypads, flood detectors, temperature detectors, etc., at some point in the future. Korner is also looking at integrating surveillance cameras into their system. “For video cameras, it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll manufacture our own, but it is really all about partnering with existing providers and we’re already in discussions with a few, so a lot of our contributors have requested that and it’s something we’re looking at pretty seriously,” Hollis added.

Given the costs associated with alarm monitoring, a lot people within the industry believe that DIY solutions provide an opportunity to bolster the penetration rate of home security systems beyond  the 18 to 22 percent range that is typically quoted in research figures. Hollis believes that Korner is well-positioned to reach customers that traditional alarm dealers have not been able to.  

“Because of our price point and ease of use, we really feel we can build quite a meaningful position in the marketplace without really competing against any existing solution,” said Hollis. “We believe there are some demographics out there like, possibly, mid-to-lower income folks who maybe have a lot of technological aptitude for DIY solutions that are out there today, renters who move a lot and want something portable, so we have every intention of expanding the addressable market for home security and getting it to people that otherwise wouldn’t have bought it.”

Korner is currently in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign and has already raised more than $240,000 to help bring their product to the market. They are also in talks with other investors to help raise additional capital, according to Hollis

Hollis said they are exploring their options in how they want to bring the product to market, which in addition to retail store shelves could also include digital marketing, direct mail and even infomercials.  The Korner solution could be available for purchase as early as Q1 next year; however, Hollis said that they are not making any firm commitments at the moment on an official launch date. 

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