Specialised in installing home automation systems for the last 15 years, Ozeo Paris is now scaling itself up thanks to connected innovation that is receiving much market acclaim. Its strategic differentiation? The total integration of the value chain in France with accessible and simple-to-use products designed to limit their carbon footprint. We meet Ozkan Ok and Olivier Darnault, the two co-founders of the company.
Following in Tesla’s footsteps
When we compare their strategic model to Tesla’s, Ozkan Ok (41) and Olivier Darnault (37) smile with a degree of modesty. Yet, from their Parisian offices, they quite simply decided to conquer the European home automation market thanks to an innovation developed entirely by their teams. The first stage will be the French launch, this coming September, of their high tech connected micromodule. “It allows you to steer your home’s facilities such as the lighting, heating or roller blinds from a standard smartphone”, says Ozkan.
Nothing groundbreaking thus far, so what makes it special? It’s very small (the smallest on the market), is a premium product and is very easy to set up. Olivier continues: “Generally, setting up modules of this type requires additional work because they cannot be inserted into a standard electrical box. Ours can! This is a massive advantage for an installer. Before, it could take up to a week to undertake the whole project, but with our solution everything can be done in a day”. Another major advantage is that this technology is so intuitive that no training is needed. “A simple demonstration lasting just minutes by one of our advisers is sufficient for the installer to become autonomous”, asserts Ozkan. “The system is configured from a smartphone. This is an important aspect, because many of these professionals would refuse to undertake home automation projects, deeming them to be too complicated.
Our innovation will contribute to the democratisation of home automation by actively participating in the development of the Smart Home”. Beyond mere words, the two entrepreneurs are developing new services, some of which could save lives. “For example, we’re working on a system that will detect if an elderly person may have fainted or fallen. And here again we’re putting the emphasis on simplicity, notably with a sensor placed on the refrigerator. If the fridge isn’t opened for a set period of time, the module will automatically send a warning message to indicate that something may be wrong”.
An innovation born of frustration
A bit like Travis Kalanick, who came up with the idea of developing Uber when he was unable to find a taxi cab in Paris, Ozkan and Olivier got their inspiration from the poorly-adapted products they regularly discovered on the market. “Given our field of expertise, home automation leaders would often ask us to give them feedback on their latest innovations”, says Olivier. “The outcome was frequently the same: expensive products that were difficult to install and often already obsolete by the time they were launched. We therefore decided to create our own specifications by making all the requirements into strategic assets.
To define our product, we started from various criteria. The first was the time it would take to install the product, so we had to invent the world’s smallest such product and redesign the typical wiring system. We then looked at the time required to activate the service, cutting it from 3 days to just half an hour. We then studied how we could slimline the distribution circuit, leading us to rationalise the packaging”.
The advantage of this latter aspect? An eco-design making it a parcel that can be shipped but also a storage box that can be re-used over the long term. “Our aim was to create the most economical supplied-installed equipment for the end client whilst ensuring the highest possible standards in terms of the product’s quality and features. Established players on this market tend to focus solely on the price of the product itself, rather than its supplied-installed cost. But what’s the point of cutting manufacturing costs if this means spending ridiculous amounts of time installing it and setting it up? And of course it’s the customer who ends up paying for all this or the installer who loses market share!”
The virtues of Made In France manufacturing
To develop its innovation, Ozeo Paris made the strategic choice for the product to be 100% Made In France and hired new members of staff on permanent job contracts. “The reason so many products are manufactured in Asia is generally because they require numerous manual operations. We therefore asked our R&D teams to design a product whose production would be mostly automated”, says Ozkan. This approach directly contributes to employment in France, where the production site is located. “We also chose to provide a positive response to planned obsolescence strategies by choosing components of a higher quality, so more reliable and longer lasting.
This is a virtuous circle that benefits everyone. The installer and end client suffer fewer faults or breakdowns, so there is less after-sales service needed from us. And our development model is not based on selling products in the medium term to replace faulty ones. We want as many homes as possible to be able to access home automation thanks to very competitive modules that are easy to install, thus substantially reducing installation costs. This is essential, because this often creates tension with the customer when they analyse the estimated cost.
From a distribution perspective, here again everything is integrated, with direct sales via an online store. This enables the installer to maintain his or her margin without increasing their selling price. We are not destroying value; we are refocusing it on the key players. The innovator sees their innovation valued. The installer can access new markets and vary their sources of revenue without cutting their margins.
The reason so many products are manufactured in Asia is generally because they require numerous manual operations. We therefore asked our R&D teams to design a product whose production would be mostly automated.
Ozkan OK, co-founder of Ozeo Paris
Dooz: a new brand and an original development model
More than a startup, Ozkan and Olivier stress their scale-up status. Olivier explains: “Our product has not yet been marketed, but we already have an order book worth €1.2 million in revenue! To ensure our growth, we have chosen self-financing. We are using Ozeo Paris’ capital to fund our R&D and the launch of this new activity. To make our offer more readable for the market, we have created a brand for our innovation, “DOOZ”, which comes from our respective names. We have also called on the support of BPI – which has put its trust in us and granted us a €200,000 loan – and banks”.
Societe Generale chosen as banking partner
Given their business’ growth prospects, the two entrepreneurs didn’t have any problem obtaining the backing of banks. “More than just funds”, says Ozkan, “we were looking for a banking partner, and we chose Societe Generale. Whilst other banks would have met us in a local branch, our Societe Generale contacts immediately suggested we join a business centre in order to benefit from the Bank’s extensive expertise regarding every aspect of our project.
For us, it’s very reassuring and above all particularly convenient, as we receive valuable advice that will help us make the right decisions. One of the Bank’s strengths has been to believe in our project as much as we do. I think that’s crucial for innovative bosses. It also shows that Societe Generale’s recent campaign is wholly credible because, with Dooz, the future is indeed a little bit us!”