Two years after iRule launched a software-based, cloud-enabled home automation system for do-it-yourselfers in 2011, the Detroit-based company acquired On Controls, an iRule reseller for the custom channel. On Controls would become the basis for iRule’s professional integration offering. Here, CE Pro visits with iRule founder Itai Ben-Gal about the two businesses.
Tell us about the genesis of iRule.
iRule began doing business in 2011 after approximately two years of R&D. The concept was born from the founders’ passion for home theater and media room applications, and we went to market initially as a cloud-based DIY solution for tech-savvy consumers passionate about music and movies who wanted control but couldn’t afford the more costly solutions available at that time.
Where did On Controls come from, and why incorporate it into the company?
iRule began attracting dealers almost immediately due to the convenience and efficiency associated with a cloud-based solution, which enabled them to “work smarter not harder” by reducing programming time, truck-rolls for upgrades and basic service issues.
We had a white-label customer at that time called On Controls that was using our product to address the CEDIA channel, and realized there was an opportunity to better serve our growing integrator community by making an acquisition.
With On Controls, we have been able to create an infrastructure to properly deliver a profitable model to custom integrators both in the residential and commercial market segments, along with unique marketing to support the On Controls initiative.
What do integrators get with On Controls that DIYs don’t get with iRule?
Professional integrators were looking for non-published pricing of hardware and software, which wasn’t achievable with iRule. On Controls offers this missing piece.
The On Controls project management tool can be repurposed for job after job—reducing installation time and increasing profitability on future jobs.
Additionally, On Controls dealers have access to exclusive hardware not available to iRule users, such as the On Controls Connect, which simplifies network configuration and remote access. Additional hardware devices are slated for release later this year, offering an opportunity for integrators to elevate their business and stand out from their competition.
Professional integrators are also provided with a comprehensive cloud-based project management tool to allow teams to collaborate on projects for scale. This is a big differentiator between the two as it allows a professional to leverage his or her skillsets and creativity in an efficient manner, which in turn allows for the development of new business models and increase sales.
The On Controls brand also delivers a partners program that generates device-specific drivers for a broad range of compatibility with third-party devices such as Sonos, Lutron, Onkyo/Integra, Nest, Denon/Marantz and many more.
UI graphic templates also are exclusively released to professionals, such as our Se7en theme (shown above), slated for our 4.2 release this July.
In addition we pride ourselves in offering professionals best-in-class service and support to our integrators in the field.
What do dealers get on the service and support side?
On Controls offers tremendous support to the CEDIA channel including dedicated training, our Online University, reduced costs for showroom systems and our Concierge Service, delivering support to integrators as they are onsite in a customer’s home. On Controls takes tremendous pride in delivering best-in-class phone/online support manned by real world integration specialists who have spent time in the field and understand the myriad of challenges faced in the field.
For dealers that are successful with your product, where does the profit come from if the software costs so little?
Much like the IT industry model that used to rely on hardware sales (computers) but now leverages specialized skills to deliver services and added value to their clients, On Controls integrators have an opportunity to establish long-lasting relationships with clients and leverage their expertise to sell services on a recurring basis.
Integrators do generate revenues from selling hardware and software with the On Controls platform; however, the long-term profitability comes from an opportunity to distinguish themselves as superior service providers—force the customer to ask, “What else do you offer?” and “What else can this company do for me?”
Value-add specialty services enable integrators to differentiate themselves from competitors in a way that no hardware component can do.
Additionally, integrators can create templates within the On Controls project management tool that can be repurposed for job after job—reducing installation time and increasing profitability on future jobs.
Since an On Controls solution is affordable, integrators to increase their overall volume of business—meeting new clients with an opportunity to bring products and services to each of them.
With the On Controls platform being so scalable and with a universe of new IoT devices coming to market at a ferocious pace, profit opportunities only begin with the initial sale. Increased overall volume and new customer relationships are the key to long term profitability for integrators using the On Controls platform.
What’s on the horizon for On Controls?
On Controls Connect is in Beta now and will be released to integrators shortly. A new and exciting UI template is also nearly ready for release. Adding new partners to our compatibility and programming initiatives is ongoing.
As iRule had been pulled into the CEDIA channel and spawned the emergence of On Controls, there will be a dedicated solution for commercial markets featuring specialized functionality and new hardware.