• Switcheroo is a Game Changer for Interior Lighting Automation

    In a world where the phrase, “There’s an app for that,” floods conversations in technology, one company, Switcheroo, is changing the game with their physical product designed to simplify interior lighting automation. As one of our 2017 Winter Fellows, Mike Neilson, founder of Switcheroo, sat down with us to go over his product and his plans for the future after raising $25K in just one week in a successful Kickstarter Campaign.
    Read about his startup journey and how you can find Switcheroo at the 2017 Home and Garden Show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, booth 3233 for all of your interior lighting needs.
    Q: Talk about your startup journey – how did you get to where you are today?

    A: I started out with this project two and a half years ago, just tinkering around with the idea. I raised a little bit of seed money to start exploring the technology, ultimately building some proof of concept devices. In the Fall of 2015, I was accepted into AlphaLab Gear to participate in their accelerator program, and I spent that time working on the design and engineering and preparing for a Kickstarter campaign, which launched in January of this year.

    Q: What is your product/business?

    A: Switcheroo is a simple little device that allows you to change which outlets in your house are activated by your existing wall switches. Most homes in the U.S. have switched outlets (outlets that turn on and off with a wall switch, generally with a lamp plugged in). Right now, if you want to change which outlet is turned on and off with a wall switch, your options would be to run extension cords or have an electrician re-wire your house. There are smart home solutions out there that allow you to automate home lighting, but they are expensive, overly complicated, and require the use of a smart phone app or Wi-Fi to function properly. With Switcheroo, you simply plug one into your switched outlet and set it to send mode, then plug one or more other Switcheroos into any other outlets in your house and set them to receive mode. Plug in your lights, and you are done. When you flip the switch, all of the lights turn on and off together. It works great plugged into a timer, or with Christmas lights to turn them all on with one switch.

    Q: What’s next for Switcheroo after your successful crowdfunding campaign?

    A: Now that the Kickstarter campaign is done, we have switched over to taking pre-orders on www.switcheroo.com, and we are exhibiting at a few home and garden shows, including Pittsburgh’s Home & Garden Show this weekend. We are also hard at work planning production and getting ready to mass produce the first batch of Switcheroos.

    Q: Tell us a little more about yourself, your background, and team (if applicable).

    A: I am not an engineer, so I have enlisted the help of some fantastic team members to make Switcheroo come to life. My background is more on the business side (marketing, project management, account management, software development, etc.), but I am just technical enough to get into trouble. I have been working with talented electrical and mechanical engineers and industrial designers to get the product fully functional and ready for mass production.

    Q: What excites you most about working in Pittsburgh?

    A: The most exciting thing about working in Pittsburgh is the ecosystem here. AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear are great ways to grow an idea into a company, but there is so much more going on here, too. I love the way that the maker movement has grown so much locally, and the amazing talent that you can find around town to help solve basically any problem you can think of. Pittsburgh is big enough (especially with some big local universities) to have pretty much everything you might need to get something done, but still small enough to provide a great sense of community that I don’t think you would find in a larger city.

    Alloy 26 Fellowship Program
    Our fellowship program grants accepted companies the chance to join our inspiring space for a FREE six-months stay, with ZERO equity fees, and no obligation to stay after the program ends.
    We will be accepting fellows on a rolling basis in the future. Check out more information at alloy26.com. And check back to learn more about our other 2017 Winter Fellows!