The founder of revolutionary intelligent home system Wondrwall is thinking big following the launch of his consumer product today.

It’s been a year since BusinessCloud first met up with Manchester-based Daniel Burton to hear about his smart home solution. We were blown away by its potential then – and his ambitions have only increased, with insurance and energy strands now added to Wondrwall’s business.

In essence, Wondrwall is a series of smart light switches which provides the home with a network of more than 100 sensors which can then learn how you move around and improve its efficiency.

The sensors automatically control heating and lighting while microphones and speakers have been included, allowing users to change the settings using their voice – through Amazon Alexa technology – and even play music through Sonos.

After four-and-a-half years of development, Wondrwall is now in show homes around the UK, with 89 major housebuilders signed up to include the technology in their offering, including the likes of Kier and Keepmoat.

“We’re targeting revenue of £49 million over next 18-24 months,” Burton told BusinessCloud ahead of today’s consumer launch in the UK, France and Germany. “That is based on the customers that we have and the houses that they build.

“We’re heading into the Nordics next and are in talks about going into America – but that’s not going to be until the end of 2019.

“We have rapid growth targets but we don’t want to run ourselves a bit thin – we want to prove our model, do a very good job in the countries we’re in and then look to go into America after that.”

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Daniel Burton

Anyone looking to buy the system on Amazon or from the Wondrwall website today will find it costs around £1,330 for a typical three-bedroom house and £756 for a two-bedroom apartment. Integrating it into your newbuild would cost around £1,200.

Burton says that the security benefits mean it is a cost-effective solution as an alarm system would typically set people back £800 anyway. His Wondrwall Insurance product launches on November 1 with six months free home and contents insurance.

“We’re a pretty intelligent insurance company,” he said. “We’re learning how you live and behave but also, if someone did actually break into the home, the home knows exactly what’s gone on: how they broke in, what rooms they went in, how long they spent in those rooms, it can scan for Mac addresses (hardware identification numbers identify devices on a network), listen for them talking…

“By the time you’ve got home, the insurance company has been alerted and they’ve already sent someone out to fix the window.

“Because we understand risk, it’s a lot more cost-effective for us to insure the home so we can undercut the market.”

The Manchester-based firm is currently going through its first funding round – a £2m financing package from NatWest in 2016 is its only funding to date – and is also targeting the energy market.

“The Big Six [energy companies] won’t exist in the next 10 years: you’ll be able to create your own energy, store it and use it,” said Burton. “We’ve signed a deal with the largest battery company in China for exclusive rights to some battery technology which is in essence a bit like Tesla’s powerpacks.

“At present, when it gets to 4pm the price goes up by 20x or something… what we’ll do is take energy off the grid during the day when its cheap, store it then use it to power the home at peak times.

“You’ll also be able to trade energy between houses on your estate: if you run out, you can buy it off your neighbours. It’s an interesting part of the business which is looking quite promising.”

Asked what he’s learned in the last 12 months, Burton joked: “What haven’t I learned?”

“Taking products to market is never as easy as you expect!” he explained. “We’ve built everything from scratch – all of our hardware and software – and building a hardware company is very, very difficult.

“After designing the product, you’re talking a minimum of 18 months from taking it to manufacturers to getting the product out of the other end of the line. What you don’t realise until you go into this is that there’s a huge shortage on components which are on a year’s delivery – this is a resister which is 0.006p cost price!

“The whole process of designing a product and then taking it to market is nowhere near what you’d expect it to be… in this world you can try and speed things up as much as you like, but it doesn’t happen!”

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