The ongoing chip crisis, increased energy costs, high inflation rate: The political and economic developments of 2022 posed major challenges for the entire world. Martin, what are your feelings about the past year?
MARTIN PANSY: As for so many other companies, it was of course a very challenging year for us. For us, it was mainly the chip crisis and the resulting limited availability of goods that caused us headaches. Our latest generation of Smart Locks were only available in very limited quantities for several months. That is why we are all the more grateful for the significant growth in sales of more than 60 per cent and the most successful year in our company’s history so far. Of course, I am not only grateful for the economically successful year, but also for my great team! The employees of Nuki have once again gone the extra mile – without them, this success in 2022 would not have been possible.
You have already mentioned the chip crisis and the associated limited availability of goods. What exactly was the problem here?
PANSY: As I said, the problem was with our latest generation Smart Lock: the Smart Lock 3.0 Pro. This electronic door lock has built-in WiFi for remote access and the power pack for full performance. And the very chip that makes the difference between the Pro model and the Smart Lock 3.0 was unfortunately not available. Fortunately, the situation eased again by the end of 2022.
With an increase in turnover of more than 60 per cent, it was therefore the most successful year in the company’s history. Are there countries where a remarkably large number of people made their homes smart with Nuki in 2022?
PANSY: Yes, in France, Spain and Italy the growth was particularly significant in the previous year. In general, we are seeing catch-up effects in Southern Europe at the moment: Here, the topic of smart homes was simply not yet so advanced. That is why we were able to make gains across the board in these countries.
Sales figures are one thing. From your point of view, are there any other facts that support the success of the past year?
PANSY: Sure, there are a lot. In 2022, doors were opened 500 million times without a key thanks to Nuki’s technology. More than 400,000 active users currently rely on our smart, simple and secure access solution every week. We sold more than 133,000 Smart Locks last year alone. Also when it comes to personnel, a lot has changed at our company headquarters in Graz. We now have 120 employees, which is a quarter more than in 2021.
So 2022 was an eventful year. And what is Nuki’s current focus?
PANSY: As always, many things – but Matter is of particular importance at Nuki at the moment. This is the standard created by the international Connectivity Standard Alliance that will make home automation devices from different suppliers compatible. The variety of producers of smart home systems is now huge. If a device works with Apple HomeKit, for example, this does not necessarily mean that it also works with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Matter aims to create a uniform basis for controlling devices from different systems together in one app. We see ourselves as a pioneer in smart homes and therefore it is extremely important for us to work on the definition of this new standard. We cooperate closely with international giants such as Apple, Google and Amazon within the framework of the Matter Foundation.
Nuki is known for constantly developing itself as a company alongside the products. What can be expected in this context in the short and medium term?
PANSY: Continuous innovation is not possible without sustained investment. And this is exactly what we can expect in the coming years. We will invest around 15 million euros in new product developments and aim for further growth over the next three years. However, we are not only investing in product innovations, but also in personnel: 80 new jobs will be created in Graz. By the end of 2023 alone, the number of employees is expected to exceed the 150-person mark. At Nuki, we are working on a completely keyless future. But it won’t work without the people who can get us there. To us, they are the key to success.
Who is behind this strong investment in the coming years?
PANSY: The investment is supported by the Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws), among others, in the form of a “Green Frontrunner” grant. In this way, the aws promotes internationally active, innovative companies based in Austria that are on their way to becoming market or technology leaders and have a business plan geared towards climate and environmental protection goals.
What do you think convinced the aws to award Nuki a “Green Frontrunner” grant?
PANSY: We have been climate neutral since 2020. Our products, and us as a company have undergone certification by ClimatePartner. At the moment, however, there are three areas in which we are pushing our commitment to sustainability: Rechargeable batteries are to replace conventional batteries as the energy source of the Smart Locks. For the future models of our Smart Lock, we want to focus on a modular design. In this way, returned and damaged equipment can be reused to the greatest possible extent, and scrapping is minimised. We also want to achieve an ecologically positive effect for our customers. What we are specifically concerned with here are everyday situations in which digital access, in contrast to the physical key, offers a significant advantage and thus makes a considerable contribution to the reduction of CO2 emissions. A good example here is car journeys for key handovers, which are no longer necessary thanks to our technology.
Martin, we have now reviewed a lot in this interview. How do you feel about the future – looking forward to 2023 but also beyond?
PANSY: According to estimates, there are around 200 million retrofittable doors in Europe alone – and we have only been able to make a few hundred thousand of them smart. In other words, the market potential in the area of smart access solutions is huge. That is why I am looking forward to the coming years with confidence. The door for further growth in 2023 and long beyond is wide open for Nuki!
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