I am Robert Kopka, and I am the co-founder of Luke Roberts. We developed FLUXO, the world’s first truly smart lamp. It’s the first pendant lamp where you can place the light in any direction with simple paint gestures on your phone. The light can be placed on the couch for reading, on the table for dinner or on the ceiling to produce indirect light. Any light scene can be produced by just one pendant lamp, which has never been possible before. FLUXO also learns how it is used to predict the perfect light scene whenever it gets turned on and it turns itself automatically on and off when someone enters or leaves the room.
We are certain that smart lighting is one of the big growth industries in the next years. The ban on incandescents left the lighting industry in a state of massive change. The large bulb manufacturers thought that the energy saving lamp is the next big deal but missed, that people don’t like the very cold light and that they contain mercury. We now know that over the next years there will be massive transition to LED lighting and the traditional bulb manufacturers are not particularly good at developing apps and electronic devices.
We think it is the right time to enter the lighting market with innovative LED lamps and we have big plans for the future.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
I worked as a management consultant for several years and that’s where I met Lukas, my co-founder. It has always been our dream to develop innovative products and during a client engagement in Switzerland we started to talk about startup ideas. We had a look at the lighting industry because LED lamps are the perfect combination of design and technology. After several months, we decided to quit our jobs and develop the world’s smartest design lamp. That was in 2014.
After several months, we decided to quit our jobs and develop the world’s smartest design lamp.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
There is nothing like a typical day in my life at the moment. One day, I’m handing out leaflets at the university to recruit people, the other day we are sitting together with the CEO of a large company to talk about potential cooperations and the next day, I’m contacting journalists to promote our Kickstarter campaign. At the moment we are completely focused on our Kickstarter campaign, we had a great first week and now focus on maintaining the momentum we have.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
I think most people don’t know that I once wanted to become a fighter jet pilot.
How did you come up with the idea for your product and what made you “go for it?”
We evaluated several ideas and found out that with our technical background, we can develop large parts of the lamp and smartphone app ourselves. We talked to industry experts and potential customers, made some research and wrote the first business plan. I think the point where we really decided to go for it was when we tested the currently leading smart bulbs and lamps. The user experience was poor and the manufacturers just tried to put LED technology in a bulb shape. We thought that if these products are currently leading the smart lighting revolution, we really have a chance with our idea and should give it a try.
What made you decide to go with crowdfunding (or venture capital)?
Crowdfunding is the perfect tool for hardware startups to get customer feedback and prove to investors that your product is something that people want to have. In our case, with an early bird price of $320, a lot of people told us that we will never succeed on Kickstarter. Right now we are standing at around $200,000 and our goal was just $54,000. Every hardware startup needs several hundred pre-orders to go into mass production and crowdfunding is perfectly suited to reach many people around the world.
What is the best decision you’ve ever made with your product (financial, emotional, educational) that led to the product we’re experiencing today?
Difficult question. I think it’s more the small iterations and minor adoptions that make a great product. I can currently not think of the one big decision that changed everything.
Where do you see your company or your company’s focus in 1-2 years?
We will definitely still develop smart design lamps, but maybe with a stronger focus on B2B applications. It would be great to develop lamps for large installations such as hotels or restaurants.
If you could time travel back to day one of your startup and have 15min with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired with the intention of saving yourself mistakes and heartache, what would you tell yourself?
Do as much as possible yourself. Outsourcing does not work for innovative products and money constraint startups. The founders have to take care and understand every single piece of their product. Nobody else does, not even if you pay them.
Do as much as possible yourself.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life and work and why?
That was one of my teachers in secondary school. He knew just about everything and instead of teaching maths, he told us stories about ancient Greece that were so much more interesting. He also told us that he is a teacher because he likes to work with kids, but he is also a business owner and that’s where he makes money. I always wanted to become as successful and smart. Not sure if I can ever reach that goal.
Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs on how to facilitate a successful financing campaign?
Do your homework. We started preparing our Kickstarter campaign about 6 months before we launched. Try to get as many people excited about your product and make them buy on day one. If you can’t get your friends excited it will be difficult to get other people excited. Talk to as many founders that have done crowdfunding before as possible, but don’t necessarily do what they tell you. We got so much advice that was completely wrong for our product and target audience. You know your product and your customers best. You also get a lot of mails from marketing “experts” that can increase your email list by 1000% for $20. That sounds too good to be true and it most likely is.
What do you see as the biggest advancement in your technology sector over the next 5-10 years?
I think it’s connectivity. In the future, your lamps will communicate with other devices and learn from usage pattern to give you the perfect light for different situations. You don’t need to think about light it will just be there when you need it.
What do you see as the biggest risk in your technology sector over the next 5-10 years?
The biggest risks are too many proprietary communication protocols that leave customers with several apps and hubs to control their lighting. I think there must be one or two standards before the majority of people move to smart lighting. Right now it’s mainly for the technology affine.