How did the eSMART project start?
« With Fabrizio, we met when I started my thesis at EPFL. We launched student research projects and among them, one on controlling a light via the electrical system. My thesis was centred on the stability of the electrical system and I imagined a network of smart modules in homes, capable of managing the growing stock of solar panels and chargers.
We enrolled on lessons to learn about starting up a company with the aim of doing just that. We then entered competitions to challenge our business ideas also allowing us to finance our product developments.
Following the PERL Prize competition (2011), which we won, the company Losinger-Marrazi took an interest in us because it was looking for a modular solution for eco-districts. So eSMART started at that time; we had 6 months to do a prototype and if the prototype was functional in the company’s offices then it ordered it from us for 80 apartments. A fun fact about this project is that our client realised 2 weeks before handing over the apartments that there were LED that flashed behind the switches which could be seen at night. It therefore asked us to turn it off, we thought of reprogramming the firmwares remotely but it didn’t work so we had to spend an entire weekend with Fabrizio reprogramming 50 apartments! »