Founded in 2015, the IoT and Data Analytics platform for social housing has gone from strength to strength since it started active trading in 2017, employing 13 people. Answering our 10 questions, our Startup for 10 is Homelync co-founder and COO Chris Jones.

1 – In your own words – what do you do? Homelync is an IoT and Data Analytics ‘open’ platform for social landlords. A bit like Samsung SmartThings for social housing but with added insights and independent internet connectivity. We work with third-party suppliers to join up the emerging industry of social housing IoT technologies such as connected fire alarms, smart boilers, social care devices, energy meters, water leak detectors, and air quality analysers. The insights from these technologies and our analytics platform allows social landlords to scale IoT much more efficiently to ensure benefits are delivered at scale.

2 – What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing? The most exciting thing about what we do is pushing the boundaries of what is possible in IoT and Machine Learning technologies whilst, at the same time, having a potentially transformative social impact. Aside from saving landlords money, our platform helps target and reduce fuel poverty, reduce carbon emissions and water waste, progress fire safety, improve tenant health, and helps with safeguarding. Helping tackle these social issues is really what drives us as a team. The rate of growth in this industry is also very exciting. We are at the dawn of IoT in the social housing sector and, in 2019, it has started scaling quickly. Social housing represents 5 million homes in the UK and many of our landlord customers have over 20k homes under their management.

3 – What are you most proud of so far? It sounds cliché but the thing I am most proud of is the team we have put together. Getting the very best people to join our journey is something that sits at the top of our priority list. It is never easy getting great people on board, but we don’t make hasty hiring decisions and it is paying off.

4 – What have you found most difficult about being a start-up? In the beginning, the most difficult thing was the fear of the unknown and the level of risk that was required. In the first 6 months, there was a lot of financial and emotional investment whilst we were still assessing product-market fit. Fast forward 18 months, with two rounds of equity funding and scale-up revenue, the challenge is scaling sustainably to meet demand – but this is a much less stressful place to be.

5 – What would you do differently if you started now? I would have started the first round of recruitment much earlier. It takes time getting the right people; especially if they weren’t looking for a job.

6 – Where do you think you’ll be in 12 months? If the market continues to accelerate at this pace, I think the Homelync platform will be in several thousand properties. We will treble the size of the team over the next 8-10 months and we will have moved into a much larger office in Future Space. We are also looking to open an office in Edinburgh.

7 – What tools/people/services/organisations from the cluster have helped you most? The Bristol Tech Cluster has provided us with a tremendous amount of support. We started out in the Bristol Robotics Lab which provided free office space, access to experts and expensive prototyping equipment like 3D printers. During this time, we were also part of the IoT Boost program (SETsquared, Engine Shed) which provided us with a lot of business advice and support. A few months ago, we moved to a paid office in Future Space which gives us continued access to resources in the University Enterprise Zone such as the Health Tech Hub and the Assisted Living Lab. Future Space has given us a tremendous amount of additional support including getting us on the AWS Activate program which has provided us with $100k in AWS credits.

8 – What’s the best thing about the Bristol & Bath tech cluster? There are a lot of good things about being based in Bristol. Aside, from it being a beautiful city close to an even more beautiful countryside, it is great for logistics due to the proximity of the airport and road transport links. There are also three good universities and a thriving tech industry that provides a great recruitment pool.

9 – Who will you be nominating for a SPARKie next year? I would probably nominate AO(N2) which is based in the Bristol Robotics Lab. They are a skydiving technology company that was founded by Arthur Amarra. Their new smart wearable is extremely impressive, and they are well respected in the skydiving community.

10 – Where can we find out more about you? Website: LinkedIn: YouTube video: NHMF article: HACT profile: