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Announcing Kraftful’s Seed Round

Yana Welinder
Jan 28 · 4 min read

We kicked off 2020 by closing a $1M seed round to bring usability to the smart home.

Our seed round is unique. We’re proud to have assembled an amazing group of investors, over half of whom are women! Building a diverse team and working with diverse investors will keep Kraftful focused on our important goal of making technology more accessible.

We’re thrilled to welcome aboard Google Assistant Investments Program, F7 Ventures, Cleo Capital, Julia Collins (Founder & CEO of Zume Pizza and Planet Forward), Lukas Biewald (Founder & CEO of Figure Eight and Weights & Biases), Nicolas Pinto (Founder & CTO of Perceptio), and other great entrepreneurs and operators.

We’re building the team that will solve smart home usability

Our founding team is uniquely positioned to crack this problem. Before starting Kraftful, we were Head of Product and Principal Engineer at IFTTT, where we built experiences for millions of users and countless connected products. With product and engineering experience from companies like Apple and Carbon, we also have unique insight into the challenges of building both hardware and software.

“Yana is a rare female product leader in the smart home space working on connecting all of those devices together with the customer experience at the forefront. As the Kraftful Co-Founder & CEO, she has identified a unique and significant market opportunity to leverage smart home tech to help people outside the typical early adopter demographic and dramatically increase overall use.”
– Kelly Graziadei, Founding Partner of F7 Ventures

We’re building out our engineering and sales teams to accelerate our growth. Specific job descriptions will be available on our website shortly, but do reach out if you’re into making smart home products usable by everyone.

Usability stands in the way of mass adoption of smart home tech

Our goal at Kraftful is to bring better usability to connected products, starting with the smart home. In the past few years, smart home adoption has been driven by smart speakers, which have already reached over 40% of US homes. More than half of those homes now also have other connected products, like smart lights, thermostats, and doorbells. Consumers can choose from over 100K different connected products from nearly 10K brands, and the choices continue to grow. But the interfaces that come with those products tend to only be usable by techie early adopters. As a result, most smart home apps have fewer than 3 stars in the app stores and many products are returned because users can’t figure out the app. The exciting opportunity for us is to make these products usable by everyone, whether they’re tech savvy or not.

Most companies building smart home products have no experience optimizing their digital interfaces based on user interactions. Companies like IKEA, Nestlé, and Colgate are now building connected products, but there are no off-the-shelf, no-code solutions for connected products like Wordpress or Squarespace for making high-quality websites.

Interfaces for connected products should be an off-the-shelf product like AWS for hosting, Stripe for payment, or Twilio for talking with users. Companies shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. The UX that they get should constantly be improving — just like the Stripe payment UX evolves without Stripe’s customers having to do any product work. That’s the promise of Kraftful.

Standardized UX will make smart home products usable by everyone

Smart home tech is going mainstream. The industry is starting to understand the need for standardization to make their products useful and usable by more people. Google, Amazon, Apple, and many others have come together to standardize how smart home devices talk with each other under Project Connected Home over IP (we’re participating too!). But this effort will not standardize the most critical touchpoint for users: the user interface.

Standardized UX works particularly well for smart home products. Unlike social media or gaming apps, a smart home app will not be used multiple hours per day. These products are mostly set-it-and-forget-it. So users have no time to learn any new interactions in the app or voice interface. They need to instantly be able to figure out how to accomplish a task without much poking around.

“By standardizing the underlying UX of smart home interfaces, Kraftful can iteratively improve all the interfaces at scale in ways that no individual smart home company can.”
– Ilya Gelfenbeyn, Head of Google Assistant Investments Program

The key to building a good digital product is iteration. Most of these companies are selling millions of connected products, but only a small fraction of consumers end up using them as connected products because the experience is so complicated. Kraftful changes that with our scalable, iterative approach to UX optimization.

Kraftful

Delightful apps for smart home companies

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