Lately, a popular startup-watching trend has emerged that can best be described as “WWGD”—what would Google do?
Proponents of this strategy constantly look at the fields where Google is making acquisitions as a proxy for what will be successful in the future.
If you believe this holds merit, Montreal-area startup Nepsu is perfectly positioned to take advantage. Fresh off of a $3.2 billion dollar acquisition by Google, Nest is currently the king of home automation, and Internet of Things devices being deployed for consumer purposes. Nepsu considers them the Goliath to their David.
When I first meet the Nepsu team, I was under the impression that I was meeting a company dabbling in one Internet of Things device: a well-designed Bluetooth-enabled speaker entitled the M1.
Within a few minutes, that impression is broken.
The team begins to describe how Nepsu is not one product, but a philosophy: making the Internet of Things and home automation, a somewhat high-minded concept, accessible, and affordable for the general public.
The Internet of Things is many things to many people, but one definition can simply apply to what Nest has built, and what Nepsu aims to build: a network of sensors that interacts intelligently with the humans around it without explicitly requiring, beyond setup, human programming—a smart space that can evolve and adapt to the people within it.
The ultimate long-term vision of the Nepsu project is a suite of Internet of Things devices that connect with one another to deliver a full home automation experience. The team wants to build the Volkswagon to Nest’s Mercedes.
The name itself is meant to convey an aesthetic. a few years into the future, they want Nepsu to resonate at a similar level as Samsung, or Sony would. Imagine the conversations of tomorrow: Apple. Samsung. Sony. Nest. Nepsu.
It’s an ambitious effort for a team of five.
The five are from various backgrounds, but many of them have expertise in hardware engineering. Trung Hoa Huynh is the co-founder responsible for marketing, and he’s the one who dives into what initiatives they have on the table, including a Kickstarter planned for the spring for the M1 speaker. They’ve already started a full court press on social media, garnering 500 likes in under 24 hours, in the goal of garnering enough of a network to raise some serious money for their planned Kickstarter.
Big dreams have to start somewhere, and the M1 is a great start. The tetrahedral shape makes it look like something that came out of a science fiction book. As with every great design, it is highly functional, preventing sound waves from reverberating across parallel surfaces, giving a clear, pure sound to your music. The team has already tested several physical prototypes, and has created something that resonates both aesthetically and technically.
Its key calling card, and its expression of the Nepsu philosophy comes from the capabilities the Bluetooth frequency gives it. You can activate it and control it remotely. Eventually, the team wants to link that with a suite of products and software so that it, like Nest products, can learn your habits, and adapt to you intelligently without you explicitly doing anything.
Imagine a speaker that adjusted the volume according to the song that was being played automatically, or one that played around with your lights so that every time you dimmed the lights, the volume softened. All of this and more will be made possible, at an affordable price, by Montreal’s Nepsu.
Their ambition is contagious. Sitting down with them, you realize the very best thing about working with startups: the passion directed towards a distant future some would say has too many hurdles to reach for such a small team.
How many times has that proposition been proven wrong? Too many to count. And Nepsu hopes to make that count one more time.