Have you ever left the house and wondered if you closed the garage door? (Hopefully not while you’re on a plane on the way to France followed by the realization you forgot your kid, a la Home Alone.) Well thanks to Garageio, you can control you garage door anytime, anywhere.
With some minor elbow grease installing the ‘black box’ and sensors, and downloading an iOS or Android app, a user’s smartphone is transformed into a garage door opener. At its core, the system does the simplest of functions – opens and closes the garage door – but technology turns it into much more.
Real-time alerts keep a user in the know with updates when their door has been left open or opened at all (and can then be closed with just a swipe). Remote access means letting mom and dad, friends or the babysitter in through the garage, even if the homeowner isn’t there. And, users can open their own door or be invited to other people’s garages.
“That was another important feature for us,” Co-Founder Zak Dzickzkowski says. “We wanted to make access easier overall, not just necessarily to yours, but to other people.”
It has been a whirlwind of a few years since Garageio went from at-home project to product with a deal with Amazon.
Garageio was born in the vein of ‘I can do this better myself.’ Dzickzkowski bought a house with a two-car garage…and two different garage door openers. He went to Sears to get a new controller to remedy the issue, but as an electrical engineer, the $50 price tag irritated him because he knew the parts weren’t worth that much. That’s when Dzickzkowski decided he would make his own.
This was also about the time the Internet of Things started to become a ‘thing.’ Phones weren’t the only smart devices. Everything from a home’s thermostat to the lock on the front door were becoming internet-connected. If he was going to make it himself, Dzickzkowski decided he should make it connected while he’s at it.
“Why doesn’t anything like that exist for the garage door,” Dzickzkowski asked.
He and Co-Fonder Dave Reif went to work and in the span of about eight hours one weekend, the first version of the Garageio app was opening and closing doors.
Knowing the market was lacking such a device, they decided to explore what it would take to make it a product.
They continued R & D for the idea for another nine months before bringing on Jess Boonstra. Dzickzkowski says she was able to help them form a brand for Garageio, marking the evolution from project to product. With it came more of the nuts and bolts, operational-level side of Garageio, with Greg Colarich coming on to hep with business development.
In late 2013 and early 2014, Garageio took their concept to Fundable.
“We chose Fundable for a number of reasons, but Fundable is in our backyard,” Dzickzkowski says.
Research and development was self-funded and largely done at that point, but the team was looking for $25,000 not only for tooling, but proof of concept. Since Fundable had a smaller reach, Dzickzkowski thought if they could hit their goal, it would be worth their time to pursue it further.
“We ended up raising $30,000 in that timeframe and that was pretty much our signal of ok, let the work begin,” he says.
The first half of 2014 was spent wrapping up beta testing and getting manufacturing in place.
“The one major capital expense we did have to pay for was plastics,” Dzickzkowski says.
Injection molding is really expensive. Period. However, about the time their Fundable campaign started, they threw their name in the ring for a design award from Proto Labs in Minnesota – and won, which covered the costs of dies, prototypes, and even a short run of Garageio systems.
“That was just another push forward of yes, you should keep going,” Dzickzkowski says.
The next big push in Garageio’s development would come from early-adopter feedback. Rounding up the suggestions, they were faced with the question of what updates to roll out next. That’s when Grageio decided to integrate with IFTTT – if this, then that. If the system was integrated with IFTTT, users could customize how they utilized Garageio
“It really showed us what the customer wanted Grageio to do in addition to its basic functionality,” Dzickzkowski says.
Customers could create recipes like if I am within a quarter mile of my house, open my garage door. It helps to bring in automatic open functionality, as well as some neat ideas the team hadn’t initially thought of.
The integration was so successful, that integrations became a focus.
“We knew that that was one of the differentiators,” Dzickzkowski says.
At the time, other products were starting to pop up on the market, but none had the integration aspects they did.
The next year was spent beefing up manufacturing and growing strategically. And then they got an email from Amazon in May of this year.
Amazon had an interest in Garageio’s product and wanted to set up a phone call. An hour spent on the phone on a Friday talking about how Garageio could integrate with Amazon Echo (basically Siri for your house) turned into come stop by on Tuesday.
Garageio was writing code for integrating with Echo in the airport on the way home. They also got the product on to Amazon.
“Ever since we’ve been on there, sales have been through the roof,” Dzickzkowski says, opening them up to a nationwide market.
It’s been a near ideal situation. As part of their deal with Amazon, the retail giant buys the product from Garageio and handles fulfillment – something they were doing themselves, making many, many trips to the post office.
Garageio keeps all their manufacturing in Central Ohio.
“We belive in Central Ohio,” Dzickzkowski says. “We want to support Central Ohio, but also it gives us a level of insight that’s really necessary at our stage.”
For more information, visit garageio.com.