IT Life: It’s Not Easy Being Green

climote co-founder Derek Roddy tells TechWeekEurope why more effective heating systems will lead to lower energy bills, and why he loves his iPhone

Tell us about your company, how long have you been in IT and what are your areas of expertise?

climote is an award winning home technology company, which was set up in 2011 by Eamon Conway (former MD of Honeywell) and myself, as a spin-out from the home technology company, Smarthomes. I have been in the connected home space for 15 years and my expertise is building a team that can deliver scale.

climote provides patented, connected home technology solutions, including energy monitoring (and control) technology that increases energy efficiency and can reduce home heating bills by up to 20 percent. The first product developed and launched by climote was its patented Remote Heating Control Hub. The HUB is a replacement for existing heating controllers and allows homeowners to manage their home heating remotely with climote’s innovative home heating control system.

climote hub whiteWhat motivates you right now?

Extending our team of A+ players at climote. We need to keep ahead of the traditional Goliaths like Honeywell, Danfoss etc, as well as newcomers like Google, who have invested nearly $4bn and British Gas who have just invested close to $100m. The opportunity for us to disrupt this space is massive, and there is plenty to keep the climote team and I fully motivated.

What’s the favourite IT project that you’ve worked on?

Like most things in life, the projects that take stamina and serious persistence to achieve, in hindsight, somehow end up as favourites. For me that IT project was the climote M2M solution or gateway, which was built into our remote heating controller. We built in some serious technical constraints, as we wanted a solution that would work in 99 out of every 100 properties we entered.

This project has proven to be very successful for climote and is now opening up huge opportunities, as we have formed some great partnerships with M2M companies like Arkessa.

What technologies were you involved with ten years ago?

10 years ago we were installing the latest home automation technology available anywhere in the world. We had a team of over 70, connecting thousands of homes annually to the latest home automation kit, that some of your readers might have seen on MTV cribs.

What do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?

I will stay away from the obvious answers such as smart phones, in whatever format they take in ten years’ time, and give you some insight as to where we are headed as a company. We are very focused on solving real consumer problems in the home, where you don’t have to sweat the small things, like having enough hot water for a bath or shower; this is all looked after automatically with climote technology. Needless to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but the climote team have a strong track record of spotting trends.

derek roddy climoteWhat do you think is the greatest challenge for an IT company or department today?

Finding A+ talent. Some people may get it, but they still have some real problems to solve. A+ talent working to their personal strengths can have the correct focus, and in my view rarely suffer from feature creep, which is a killer.

Who is your tech hero and who is your tech villain?

This might seem like a strange answer, but my brother, Ivor, who leads the climote R&D team, is the most gifted technology genius I know. The kit that Ivor and the team are working on will highlight just how far ahead of the game he is.

Don’t know where to start with tech villains, so I suggest I just stick to the positives!

What’s your favourite device ever made and what do you use the most?

It’s a bit of a cliché, but it has to be my iPhone. Apart from all the obvious benefits, I can now control my home heating system using my app and a climote remote access heating control hub. As a family, we never have to arrive home to a cold house, while at the same time keeping on top of our energy bills by not heating an empty space. It’s also great to have a device with you all the time that can capture some really special moments with images and videos. I remember the times of taking photos of my daughter and son, the day they were born in the hospital, with a Nokia phone; not great quality given today’s models, but a great way to encapsulate memories.

Apart from your own, which company do you admire the most and why?

I really admire LinkedIn. It’s a fantastic business tool and well worth paying for the additional services.

What did you want to do when you were a child?

I am the eldest of 4 boys, and my parents always encouraged us to think different. This wasn’t that hard, as my father is an inventor and he built me my first bike from aluminium, and instead of a traditional chain, I had the timing belt of a car engine. So as a child, I just wanted to run my own business, making cool things that have never been built before. I started off serving my time as a toolmaker at the tender age of 15, and by the age of 27 I had co-founded Smarthomes.

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