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Heating via Wi-Fi: Ukrainian startup taught the Germans to save

Author : Vsevolod Nekrasov

Andriy Kholodov from Ukraine created a revolutionary heating system that lets Germans save 500 euros per season
18:09, 17 November 2016

Read the original text at epravda.com.ua.

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"You do not need to heat empty rooms!" Calls upon startup eCozy, elaborated by native of Kharkiv Andriy Kholodov.

Since August 2016, eCozy delivers worldwide "smart" heating control system.

According to Kholodov, it is able to reduce the cost of the heat by 30%.

It consists of a system with touchscreen thermostat-controlled central unit and an application for iOS and Android.

The trivial desire to program the temperature of the radiators to reduce heat bill, Kharkiv led to the idea of creating a startup. He was able to unite around his ideas of experts from different countries and find hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment.

A graduate of the Kharkiv "Polytechnic" 47-year-old Andriy Kholodov not look like a typical startup founder. He is a successful businessman, and before - an engineer with experience in western corporations. Finally, he is older than the age when usually enough ambition to take on "a project that will change the world."

Post a perilous journey into the world of innovative business Kholodov made his own bad experience. In 2012, he decided to cut down on heating costs: bought two programmable thermostat for radiators and took up the setting of the temperature graph. Each thermostat was only three buttons, but the tune was a real torture.

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Spending a lot of time, Kholodov, high class engineer in the field of computer networks, was not able to impose their thermostats scenario work. At some point, he gave in and agreed to the default program.

Hardly Kholodov put up with his grief, he had to listen to criticism of his wife. She was not satisfied with the appearance of thermostats. "My wife always tried to close them with curtains or flowers, this relic of the 1990s in a modern apartment was not good," says the businessman.

So he had the idea that a modern product should look different, to bring joy and be easy to manage. He gathered in Kharkov and four of his friends proposed to develop a beautiful and simple thermostat.

To see if they have enough knowledge and skills to implement the project, Kholodov partners conducted preliminary tests of several thermostats. Believing in themselves, they set about creating a product.

Upscale designers and trusted friends all in one innovative entrepreneur found long before eCozy. A key role in this played a career Kharkiv.

After graduating from the department of "Automation and Remote Control" Kharkiv "Polytechnic" Kholodov in 1995 went to Germany. Two years spent on language learning and integration into society.

For several years he worked in German companies as a consulting engineer in computer networks with a focus on Microsoft solutions. In the early 2000s, he became involved in projects of German companies Munich Re, Apollo-Optik, Linde, BERU, MEAG, T-Systems for their network infrastructure management.

Three years later, he founded a consulting firm in the field of their specialization. Some of the projects carried out as a freelancer, and a part - conducted through the firm, involving freelancers from Ukraine if necessary.

"In Ukraine, I have a wide circle of specialists and friends that I could bring to the project This helped start implementing eCozy idea," said Kholodov.

eCozy appeared in August of 2013. The first time the project has existed for its own account of the founder, who has invested more than $ 70 thousand.

From the outset, a key product was tachskin thermostat-controlled. With the help of adapters, the thermostat is screwed to the 99% types of radiators and allows you to adjust the temperature of the battery in one touch.

The founder of the startup estimates the market for such devices in Europe alone more than 2 billion pieces. According to him, in Europe in 2012 was 4 billion batteries, thermostats, and this number is growing from year to year. In the same year 38% of thermostats considered obsolete - they were older than 15 years - and is subject to change.

The device was developed in Kharkiv. Kholodov manage the process from Munich. device manufacturing via Kyiv Design Bureau ARTKB been adjusted at the factory in China.

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In less than a year of start-up capital is ended. The team worked for three months on the enthusiasm. All this time the founder was looking for investments. In the first half of 2014 he was able to find a business angel who came for a share in the project.

With its investment eCozy autumn of 2014 was able to prepare for the launch of the campaign on Indiegogo. Team introduced the concept of "intelligent" management of heating systems: thermostat, the central communication unit and an application for remote management.

In a client application sets the hourly temperature graph for each room. Data over Wi-Fi comes to the central unit. CBA protocol ZigBee (analogue Wi-Fi) transmits data to the thermostat.

Further, the thermostat closes or opens the valve on the radiator, by adjusting the flow rate of coolant. It feeds on the thermostat by four AA batteries, which is enough for 1.5-2 years. 269 Becker invested in the project over 50 thousand dollars with the goal of $ 30 thousand, but the money was not the main objective.

"We wanted to test whether the product is in demand We needed to create a community where we could receive feedback on Indiegogo Money was not the primary goal, but they were helpful," explains Kholodov.

During the startup faces two serious problems.

The first is related to the control of the temperature in the room.

It turned out that this is not a simple process. Air masses, especially in the large room, move chaotically. Predicting the temperature in the middle of the room, measuring its close, the battery is difficult. Maintain this temperature for a time selected by the user more difficult.

The developers have solved this problem by creating an adaptive algorithm for heating control. Later he was awarded the Bavarian Ministry of Energy.

The principle of the algorithm is that the system during commissioning some time creating for itself a mathematical model of the room. In other words - measures the room heating time. A few days later she was able to forecast and achieve the desired temperature at the desired time. Therefore, the system is positioned as a self-learning.

The second problem was technical. In 2015, eCozy team received from the Chinese manufacturer of zero series of thermostats for testing. The tests showed that the communication is interrupted between the two microprocessors installed in the incubator.

Developers suspected microprocessor manufacturer, the US Texas Instruments, in the defective batch. eCozy opened proceedings, began a long period of exchange of log files, documentation, test results. It turned out that the processors are good, but need to be flashing.

Because of this, the start of sales was thwarted: in September 2015 instead of the first devices, Becker and buyers began to receive in August 2016.

Now eCozy manufactures innovative product in demand worldwide, and the market volume, which came out on the project, is estimated at billions of dollars.

The eCozy smart heating solution is a design-driven intelligent thermostat (a radiator-based programmable thermostat) that saves up to 30% of annual heating costs. By introducing the eCozy intelligence to as many homes as possible, it shows people how easy and convenient it can be to save energy.

The eCozy is designed for water radiators and heaters, and it consists of: eCozy thermostats, an eCozy smartphone application (for iOS and Android) and the eCozy central unit. It offers features such as control of temperature, analytics and automation, connectivity to home area networks, response to utility pricing signals (for example, the time-of-use), and access to cloud-based services.The eCozy stands out emotionally amongst its market competitors due to its sleek (patented) design, highly intuitive usability and smart technological know-how (an award-winning heating algorithm). This design-driven ‘little thinker’ offers a much better user experience by eliminating the pain of setup, calibration and the maintenance of a digital thermostat.

The eCozy central unit works as an access point, so that the entire heating unit can still be controlled with the eCozy application even without Internet access. Depending on environmental and usage factors, eCozy is able to create a mathematical model of the environment from repetitive manual settings, through which the temperature curve with each cycle gets more and more accurate, and as a result, reduces heating cost and increases energy saving. The eCozy learns from the user’s heating preferences and home properties, and provides a heating system that will suit everyone.

The first batch consisted of 3 thousand 1 thousand thermostats and central units. Basically they were kits. Starter Kit consists of the Central Bank and a single thermostat and costs 179 euros. Package "Comfort" consists of the Central Bank and three thermostats. It sold for 299 euros. Price per thermostat - 69 euros.

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eCozy Products can be purchased from anywhere in the world through the official store of the project, as well as in the networks of the largest distributors and realtors in Germany.

According to Kholodov, a set of "Comfort" the owner of one-bedroom apartment in Germany will be repaid in one heating season. As an example, he cites the cost of heating apartments in Germany 100 m sq. during the cold season accumulates 1800 euros. "Comfort" system saves approximately 500 euros. And one of the Central Bank can connect up to 15 thermostats. In the long term - 255. The range of the Central Bank - 100 m.

In February 2016, when Becker c Indiegogo endured six months late supply of goods on the German platform seedmatch.de 188 investors invested in eCozy 176 thousand euros. Their faith in the project justified.

In addition, the project received a loan of 350 thousand euros from the German bank LfA and more than 100 thousand dollars - the second business angel. Soon eCozy begin to attract advanced crop investment. Negotiations with investors are already. The funds the company intends to invest in business growth and development.

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