Finalist | PipesBox (Germany) - "Benefits of smart devices are still hidden to the masses"

03/06/2015  |  CODE_n Alumni, CODE_n15 Startup CONTEST, Interview

PipesBox is a hub for the smart home. Users are given an opportunity to identify their own unique use cases for their personal digital life. PipesBox includes Web services (e.g., Dropbox, Twitter) and wearables (e.g., Jawbone UP) as well as hardware devices so that users can create powerful applications by combining solutions. It is open to all smart home technologies. Jan Krog, CEO of PipesBox answered some questions for our short interview.

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Where did your idea for the company come from?

Jan Krog (PipesBox): Prior to starting the company, Elmar (CTO and co-founder) did lots of research in the field of the Internet of Things. That was years ago, when IoT was an abstract idea that only the experts knew about. The question was: how could devices and Web services be connected in an easy way to create additional value for the user. And thus the idea of PipesBox was born.

For which kind of audience is your product or service intended and what problem is it solving?

Jan Krog (PipesBox): PipesBox is a product for the end user. Smart Home is on the edge of the mass market. But there are several problems in the way: walled gardens (technology lock-ins), usability, attractive solutions, …
But most important: people just don’t know what they can do with all their smart devices. The benefits are still hidden to the masses.
PipesMarket solves this problem by making all kinds of device combinations searchable and visible to the user.

Tell us a bit about the company’s founders like their professional or industry background and the origins of the founding idea.

Jan Krog (PipesBox): Elmar (CTO) did years of research in the IoT field and is the technical mastermind behind PipesBox. He takes care of all the heavy programming.
Jan (CEO) is a true entrepreneur with a technical as well as a business background and years of startup experience. This includes founding a learning platform for medical students.

Together with an open source concept and provision of an SDK, you are encouraging developers to write new applications for PipesBox in order to help improve your solution – a rather unusual approach in the industrial world. And that’s exactly why we’d like to know how your strategy has been received so far?

Jan Krog (PipesBox): We are getting lots of inquiries regarding when we will allow third-party developers to upload and publish their own “pipes.” “Pipes” are essentially smart home use cases, or small “apps” that developers can create and by doing so make these use cases available to the “normal” user. In the coming months we are going to allow people to publish third-party pipes in our PipesMarket. We also believe that it is very important to be as open as possible to succeed as an IoT platform/hub.

See PipesBox live on the CODE_n Stage on Thursday, 19.03.2015.