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On and off: Zonoff hiring three to ramp up smart home software

Zonoff, in the business of facilitating smart homes, has just received $200,000 in funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Zonoff is hiring three: a web and mobile UI developer, an embedded software engineer, and a contract technical writer. Cooper reports that the $200,000 from Ben Franklin will go toward ongoing product and market development.

The recipient of the largest sum in this most recent round, Zonoff launched in April 2011 to provide software that no one will ever see. Residing inside any "always on" device, like televisions, thermostats, security systems, door locks, garage door openers and refrigerators, to name just a few, Zonoff's software allows homeowners to control a variety of processes remotely.

The name of the revenue-positive company comes from the letter Z plus on and off, says Bob Cooper, Zonoff's Chief Marketing Officer and one of its co-founders. There are two smart home industry standards, he explains: the Z-Wave Alliance and the ZigBee Alliance. Zonoff works with both. "Consumers don't care if it's Z-Wave or ZigBee. They just want it to work," says Cooper.

"What's happening in the space now is the convergence of a number of factors," says Cooper, who attributes increased interest in the smart home to concurrent rises in broadband penetration and smartphones, along with a higher awareness of energy management. "Big players are entering the market." Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, for example, are beginning to take steps into facilitating the connected home.

Suppose, for example, you could turn on your hot tub, turn off your home security, and run your dishwasher from a mobile app. With Zonoff, it doesn't matter if it's a Z-Wave or ZigBee enabled device. Further, Zonoff learns from the homeowner's habits. If the thermostat is getting turned down to 62 every night, the program will ask if it should add the adjustment as a regular feature.

"We found Bulogics, another company in Philadelphia, that had developed the technology," says Cooper. "It was world class, but it was the best kept secret out there." Bulogics spun off its consumer technology portfolio and Zonoff was created, with a much more assertive go to market plan. Michael Balog, Zonoff's CTO, left Bulogics and joined Cooper and CEO Mike Harris at the Malvern HQ.

Cooper envisions all manner of disruptions. Alarm companies would be rendered obsolete by technology that automatically turns on cameras and sends a live feed to the owner's smartphone when a secure area is breached. The software can also alert the police.

Zonoff will soon be seeking an A round of funding and is forging relationships with channel partners for international distribution.

Source: Bob Cooper, Zonoff
Writer: Sue Spolan
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