The smart home, a.k.a. connected home, market is fast-growing one that is luring big companies and ambitious startups with the promise of the next big thing after smartphones. Unfortunately, just like many promises, that doesn’t always stand up to reality and some companies crash hard. One such big dreamer is Otto, who unveiled its rather pretty smart lock not too long ago. In August 2017, to be precise. But now the company’s doors have practically closed, and CEO and Founder Sam Jadallah offers what he hopes will be a cautionary tale for other Silicon Valley hopefuls.
The smart lock market is no longer a young nor a niche one. It has practically gone mainstream, especially with Apple’s HomeKit coming into play. Despite that, Otto was, in its own way, unique. For one, it was smaller, less conspicuous, and more aesthetic than older models. For another, it carried a $700 price tag.
That price tag would have probably been a death sentence for the product if it had actually gone to market, but Otto doesn’t think so. Investors and testers alike, it claimed, fully understood and even appreciated the value that came with a cost that was almost equal to most high-end smartphones. It was, in fact, not a deterrent to being acquired by an unnamed, public company.
That potential acquisition, ironically, was what lead to Otto’s demise. The startup was so close to getting acquired that it had stopped its venture fund hunting and didn’t develop a plan B. They were so convinced that it would push through that when the company, for undisclosed and unknown reasons, backed out, Otto had no other choice but to fold.
Now the company is left with stocks that will probably never get packaged, sitting in a warehouse that will continue to drain the company’s remaining funds. What the future holds for Otto is still unknown but, for now, it seems that the door has been slammed shut on the smart door lock maker.