Christopher Allen | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Christopher Allen

Background:  

Based in Avon, Conn., iDevices created an app that allows consumers to control their home environment through a smartphone. The app links to lighting, thermostats and more. The technology was born out of the iGrill, which is a smart grill and cooking thermometer that iDevices sold to Weber in February.

The Mistake:

When I originally launched iGrill, a grilling and cooking thermometer that connects to your phone via Bluetooth, I launched it at $99. I was told by retail that it had to be $79 and no one would buy it at $99. When we reduced the price, we had absolutely zero lift in sales.

With retail, we went in under the guise that we didn't have to do much of anything other than put the product on the shelf like, "If you build it, they will come." When we relaunched it and went back to $99, we had three- to five-times the revenue growth.

When you have an innovative new product, you have to educate consumers.

The Lesson:

When you have an innovative new product, you have to educate consumers. The education, which needs to happen at both the store level for the associates as well as for the consumer, was my biggest underestimation. We are battling that today in home automation.

Now when we go to the market with a product, we try to make it palatable and easy to understand with video. We team up with other brands that are not direct competitors in the same space to create a holistic view of home automation for consumers.

We try to tell a story, a story of how home automation makes a person's life easier, better and more simplified. Those are the things that tend to resonate with consumers versus technology for technology's sake.

Follow iDevices on Twitter at @idevices.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Allen.

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