Comfee automates your plain, boring blinds

comfee-blindsAs startups rush to establish themselves in the “smart home”, many seem to focus on the doors, lights, security, television, etc. But Estonia-based Comfee wants to help you class up your home with a device that adds automation to your blinds.

The device being marketed by Comfee takes advantage of solar power and Bluetooth to allow users to take their smartphones and set their blinds to open automatically during certain hours of the day or when it reaches a certain temperature. Users get started by clipping the device to the top rail and then manually establishing control. According to co-founder Ksenia Vinogradova, they are planning to sell the device for $59, while the solar panels will be $20.

The team behind Comfee took sort of a winding path to entrepreneurship, as Vinogradova tells me that they initially left Russia for Bulgaria, attracted by the possibility of working remotely and living by the sea. They initially took to Indiegogo in order to get the project off the ground, but did not reach their goal, as she says that they did not fully realize the costs and risks associated with production, as well as needed to make changes to the device (it initially worked with WiFi and did not include a solar component). But they were determined to continue on with their concept, so they headed for Buildit accelerator, a hardware-focused program in Estonia. It was there that they received the mentorship that they needed before relaunching the project this February. Vinogradova adds that they received attention from the press during their crowdfunding campaign, but the interest was not converted into backing and, after 3 redesigns of the device, they believe that they are finally ready to ship. At the moment, the startup says that they have 80 distributors and 100 early testers for the product.

Comfee claims $80K in backing, picked up in June, from CrossBorderAngels, Buildit, Dewang Neralla, and a trio of members of the Estonian Business Angel Network, as well as $50K that has been committed and the team expects to receive in August from a private investor. All told, Vinogradova says that they will have $150K in backing come August.

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