Business

Why smart-home startups like Birdi aren’t afraid of the Nest-Google alliance

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When Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion, it didn’t just give Nest’s founders a hefty paycheck. It also put one of the world’s most innovative hardware startups in the hands of one of the world’s biggest companies. It’s a powerful combination.

But is that bad news for other hardware startups looking to make it big? Not exactly, says Birdi CEO Mark Belinsky. His company makes an air-quality sensor that also works as a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector.

While the Google acquisition puts Nest in a good spot to dominate the connected-home market one day, it also gave the fledgling industry a major stamp of approval. After all, there must be something to the connected home if Google’s making a billion-dollar investment in it.

And by buying Nest, Google also may have made life a little bit easier for smaller companies like Birdi to get attention and find customers.

“My assumption was that we were going to be battling against big players like Apple, Google, and Nest. Now, things are consolidating a bit,” Belinsky said.

Consolidation is good news because it’s usually a sign that an industry is growing into something larger and more mature. While some companies die and others like Nest get bought out, the industry as a whole will be in a better spot. (The Nest acquisition feels a lot like MakerBots’s buy from last June, though Google’s involvement makes it tough to make a direct comparison. )

So what does this mean for the likes of Birdi? For one, it means that whatever money Google spends marketing Nest and the concept of the connected home will also help educate consumers about other such products — including Birdi’s.

One day, anyway. For now Birdi is focused on closing its IndieGoGo campaign (it’s raised over $40,000 so far) and getting the devices out to backers by October.

More about the companies and people from this article:

The creator of the world’s first learning thermostat, Nest Labs is focused on reducing home-energy consumption. The Nest Learning Thermostat learns about you and your home to automatically turn itself down when you're away, guide you... read more »

Birdi (formerly Canary) is a smart smoke detector that looks beautiful on a wall and connects you to the information you need to know. Whether it’s your breathing air quality or alerts about a fire or exposure to carbon monoxide, Bir... read more »

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