How Stuart’s Ecobee Came to Transform How People Live Today
Once upon a time, smart homes were but a myth. Everything from managing home appliances to turning the lights on and off was a dull and manual task. With the growth of technology, however, the need to optimize the way we live became even more emphasized. Whilst technologically arming worldwide industries was downright impressive, for Stuart Lombard, it was home devices and appliances that needed a much-deserved technological boom.
An eager consumer of electronics and a self-taught tech extraordinaire, Stuart developed Ecobee - a unique home automation platform through which home devices could work harmoniously and in favor of every homeowner’s complete comfort and security!
From creating smart thermostats and light sensors to developing voice and app-controlled home devices, Ecobee offers the smartest home solutions that actually make a difference!
A seemingly ordinary guy and a family man, here’s how Stuart’s journey in creating Ecobee led him to become a leading pioneer of the smart-tech-does-it-better movement!
Founders and Education
Stuart graduated from Queen’s University in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. Six years after graduating, he founded his first venture - Inforamp, and was its CEO for a year and a half. Soon after, as the leader of this company, he invented the once-spellbinding iStar internet in 1995.
His most challenging venture before founding Ecobee was JLA Ventures, where he operated as a Partner of the company for almost 9 years.
During this time, Stuart was starting to program his home-thermostats, intending to reduce his family’s carbon footprint and try to save money in the process as well. He was surprised when he found out just how difficult programming a thermostat is!
To his surprise, the tremendous experience and his bachelor’s degree could not help him program an average thermostat. Having failed over and over again, he didn’t stop until one time he got it right!
During a freezing cold winter in Canada, Stuart and his family were just coming back home, only to find their house completely frozen. This was the breaking point for Stuart, as he knew he wasn’t the only one with this problem. So, he sought out to resolve this issue - for himself and others.
This eventually resulted in Ecobee being created!
Despite being the driving force in Ecobee, Stuart was not alone! He had two companions who helped him overcome the many upcoming challenges.
One of those companions was John Metselaar. He graduated from McMaster University with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. He is one of the co-founders of Ecobee and is currently operating as Chief Hardware Architect.
Mark Malchiondo is the second companion who, side-by-side with Stuart, was able to invent the first-ever WiFi-enabled thermostat in the world. He graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor’s degree in Math in 1991. Mark’s path, before becoming a co-founder of Ecobee, was filled with various job titles. Immediately after graduation, Mark was hired as a Software Architect in the Software Group Limited.
He played his role in the company to perfection before being hired as Engineering Manager at Intel of Canada. Intel was blessed with his presence for 7 years before he became a CTO of Planet Eye Inc. Finally, Mark partnered up with Stuart and John, and in 2007, they introduced Ecobee to the world.
Slow is Sometimes Better
Thermostats were programmable even before Ecobee was Launched. But they were not connected via WiFi. In the first years of the company, Stuart was able to secure investments and raise capital, to finally release the first-ever thermostat that is WiFi connectable. His unique product release was an instant success, followed by a massive drawback when another company introduced a cheaper and overall better thermostat.
How Stuart responded to this unexpected situation was the key for Ecobee. He could either give up or take his time and start again from scratch. Given the fact that Stuart and his co-workers are workaholics by nature, stepping down was never an option.
So, they made the choice to overcome this obstacle. They took their time, dived deep, and managed to create the next best-connected thermostat that would bring them back on top of the game.
According to Stuart, you sometimes have to slow down when things aren’t going well. In his case, he had faced completely unforeseen trouble when his competitors released a better product.
He had to slow down and make sure his next product will be of great quality. Stuart had to take his time and pay close attention to each and every detail. Once he was completely sure his product is 100% solid, he released it and got right back on the top of the game!
The Driving Force
Ecobee is a purpose-driven company. Their mission is not selling a great product and making a fortune, but creating one that is in line with nature, one that is reducing the overall carbon footprint.
Thermostats are not the only product they sell, Ecobee also has smart cameras with remote sensors and many other home accessories. Their software allows customers to anonymously share their data. With such first-hand intel, they can create products that are in line with the customers’ needs.
The data donated by customers undergo a two-factor authentication system and data encryption to ensure the information is completely safe. Customers can always choose not to share their data if they do not wish to. The process is voluntary and helps scientists answer critical questions about energy preservation.
All things considered, it was nothing strange for Ecobee to attract top investors! Ecobee was funded through 6 rounds, with the last one being the most significant. Their crown investor is none other than Amazon! In the last funding round, in May 2018, Stuart spoke that their sensors, machines, and field voice will interact with Amazon’s Alexa.
"This will result in a home that listens and responds to your needs, so you can focus on the things that really matter" - Stuart said.
The founders of Ecobee believe that their technology must be accessible to everyone. This is why they partnered with local city organizations, as it poses a better way to deliver the product anywhere. In 2019, they introduced Eco+. This groundbreaking thermostat will deliver even better energy savings.
Ecobee in 2021 is an established, rock-solid business, mainly present in Canada and the US. Having raised a total of $149.4 million in funding over 6 rounds, Ecobee’s founders are resting easily on top of their competitors.
The company is based in Toronto, Canada, employing almost 500 people. Ecobee is one of the best companies when it comes to selling energy sustainable products. Their cutting-edge thermostats are being used and trusted by countless Canadians and Americans by now. In the near future, their plan is to expand to Europe as well.
Some of their top investors include Business Development Bank of Canada, Amazon Alexa Fund, BDC Venture Capital, AGL Energy, Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec, Export Development Canada, Thomvest Ventures, The Ontario Capital Growth, and Energy Ventures.
Their ultimate goal is steadily coming true but is nowhere near where it should be. Their efforts of making smart home solutions that encourage positive actions for our planet are finally starting to pay off.
Ecobee’s smart products have saved 13.5 TWh of energy by now. You can count that as the equivalent of removing 1,557,673 cars off the streets for a year! Or even better - keeping 7,336,641 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere!
This just shows how powerful the company is! Imagine if every single family in the world decided to incorporate Ecobee’s products in their homes. We would be one giant step closer to resolving one of the biggest problems mankind is currently facing!