YORKSHIRE-based BOXT, the smart home installation technology company, has struck a deal with Google to become the first national business to offer a voice-controlled heating system as standard.
The agreement with Google means that all new boilers installed by BOXT will come with a free Google Nest Learning Thermostat and Google Home Mini, so that they can be controlled by the customer’s voice.
The deal forms part of a large expansion programme by Leeds-based BOXT, which has already achieved a turnover of £20 million in its first full year of trading.
The company expects to double this figure in its current financial period, when the BOXT team aims to expand internationally.
The BOXT technology platform operates in a similar way to the taxi service Uber.
It connects installers with customers through a centralised booking facility which allows customers to choose and buy a suitable home heating package at a fixed price, in their own time, on a mobile phone or laptop.
Having initially raised £10 million to build the business, with a significant investment coming from Robert Bosch, the owners of the Worcester Bosch boiler brand, whose products are among those offered by BOXT, the company is now raising another £20 million to expand into other smart home installation products.
The company was founded in Leeds by three former executive directors of boiler installation specialist Help-Link, Mel Butler, Alan Dickinson and Andy Kerr, along with Keith Jones the former managing director of Wolseley’s Plumb Center.
“Home installation is ripe for disruption and we want BOXT to be the first choice for customers who want to install heating, cooling or any smart technology in their home.” said Andy Kerr, the co-founder of BOXT,
He added: “We’ve developed our platform to ensure that the process for customers is easy, transparent and always good value – and with no hidden costs or antiquated sales techniques.”
Mr Kerr said the company was predominantly targeting venture capitalists and trade investors with regards to the £20m fundraising.
It expects to launch an electric vehicle charger as the first of a raft of new products.
Mr Kerr said the company had already installed around 1,400 to 1,500 of the new boilers over the last six weeks.
It expects to have installed around 40,000 by the year end. He said the company is planning multi-country expansion.
The company already employs 35 staff at its Leeds head office in Thorpe Park and is taking on extra space to give it room to expand.
Mr Kerr said: “The company is targeting partnerships with car manufacturers.
“BOXT is a technology platform built for scalability into other product categories and countries.”
In September 2018, BOXT secured a minority investment from Bosch, which provided the capital to accelerate the platform development. The deal also secured a significant partner within the heating and cooling category.
Recent research has estimated that the UK connected home market will grow in revenue by 20 per cent year-on-year and by 2022 there will be at least one connected home product in 40 per cent of homes.
Technological advances have led to a growing number of voice-activated products becoming available to consumers in recent years.