The idea for Keen Home came to Ryan Fant one night while he was trying to get to sleep. With air from his apartment’s air conditioning system blowing in his face, he realized it would be nice to use his smartphone to close the vent while trying to sleep. This was in 2012 when he was a first year student at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and when he returned to his parents’ home for Thanksgiving he walked around their house to see how and when the thermostat would turn on and off, with a hunch that controllable vents could improve efficiency in addition to the convenience factor.
That hunch turned out to be right, as his first experiment suggested having a system of vents that could open and close to block air flow to unused rooms could lead to 30% energy savings. He contacted classmate Nayeem Hussain about helping him enter the idea into a NYU competition, then decided to enter it in the TechCrunch StartUp Battlefield competition as well. Six weeks before the competition, they received a call from a TechCrunch editor, who loved the idea and wanted to know if they had a prototype. They didn’t.
But many will tell you that rule one of entrepreneurship is the same as improv comedy: always say yes. And they did, worked 120 hour weeks for the next month and a half and had the prototype in time, as well as a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $40,000. They are now working to bring their product to market through Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouses starting next spring.
So, how does the Smart Vent work? By replacing the existing vents in each room of a house with Smart Vents, you can then use your smartphone to close vents in unused rooms, reducing the amount of conditioned air the system needs to provide, saving energy in the process.