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InsurTech of the month: Broadlink

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Broadlink is a Beijing based smart home company whose primary product is a centralized remote control and smart plug through which users can control a host of everyday appliances in addition to optimizing home energy consumption.

Broadlink has so far raised $54.4m and has a presence in 30 countries. Founded in 2012, Broadlink is competing amidst stiff competition from internet players and appliance manufacturers alike, but has differentiated itself by solving two of the biggest challenges that typically stymie smart home efforts; i) distribution, and ii) cross compatibility with external devices.

In terms of distribution, Broadlink has partnered with eighteen Chinese property developers including China Vanke, China Merchants Property and COFCO Property. This ensures Broadlink’s products come as standard with new homes in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Additionally, Broadlink is working with both Baidu and Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com which will further expand its online distribution capabilities.

Secondly, the ability to achieve cross compatibility with hardware providers has also differentiated Broadlink and smart home platforms including Alismart, Haier, Miidea, JD, (and by extension WeChat). Additionally, BroadLink’s ‘DNA’ platform has access to more than 150 home appliance manufacturers’ kitchen products. This positions Broadlink as one of the most widely compatible smart home devices on the market.

Using the above capabilities, Broadlink has established  a presence across several smart home use cases incluiding air conditioning, smart TV, kitchen appliances, lights/energy optimization, curtain automation, air purifiers, as well as smoke and gas detectors. Broadlink is also working on an AI component – based on a subset of temperature gauges, Air Quality Index (AQI) levels and environmental data – to trigger actions automatically. For example, high AQI levels automatically trigger the air purifier.

Broadlink’s CEO, Jerry Lium has an R&D background in wi-fi chip development and previously lead the R&D team at the Australia National Communications Laboratory, successfully developing the world’s first direct conversion 60GHz wireless transmission chips. Although Broadlink competes with US based smart home startups including Notion, Piper and Lumi United, its positioning in China is based on its distribution and interoperability ability.

Ultimately, Broadlink has succeeded where others have failed by guaranteeing the interoperability of Broadlink with third party devices. For insurers, startups like Broadlink matter because they are building an ecosystem of interconnectivity in the field of smart home. This means the ability to offer prevention based property insurance through the data collated by smart home devices, which can forewarn policy holders of leaks, fires and burglaries.

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