ComfyLight: Let it Shine

February 16, 2016

Text by Charlotte Gaeng

Light. It helps us feel safe and warm in our homes and illuminates our environment to work, play, and live. But one light bulb in particular is making some homes even safer and smarter—ComfyLight.

We sat down with Stefanie Turber, co-founder and CEO of the Zurich-based startup to find out more about her background and her company.

Head’s up: we were pretty impressed. After graduating in economics and business management in Germany, she spent a year in South Africa then eight months in Syria learning Arabic. She also spent two years of her early career in China working in optical technology.

But when she heard about the Bosch Internet of Things Lab at the University of St. Gallen in 2011, she decided to move to Switzerland to do a PhD. That’s when she discovered a new world of IT sensors, and it’s also where she met ComfyLight co-founder Marcus Köhler and they launched the company as a spin-off of ETH Zurich and the University of St. Gallen.

Under Turber’s leadership, ComfyLight has been recognized with numerous international awards and is making bold strides to breathe new life into the connected home security sector in Europe. Here’s what she had to say about her company and its future:

Q: What is ComfyLight?

It’s a learning light that protects your home. It’s an LED bulb with a sensor connected to an app, so the light learns your patterns over time and simulates them. Thanks to the ComfyLight LEDbulb, potential burglars believe you are at home even when you are not. According to security experts, this is the best way to prevent break-ins.

Q: What are you doing in San Francisco?

We came here to explore the market and our approach to the marketplace, and to have some initial meetings with investors. It’s also really useful for us to have someone here considering that we just launched our Kickstarter. To have someone who can answer the questions live, as they come in, is really helpful. We’ve already surpassed our goal and the campaign isn’t even over! We actually reached our goal in seven hours. This first step was based on our network. Now we need to push to the next step.

Q: How do you explain this success?

We were selected as a CES Innovation Awards Honoree 2016 recently in Las Vegas, which allowed us to show our product to tech people and get a lot of exposure. And two years ago we got support through the Be.Project Award 2014, which really helped us to push the social campaign. We are still in touch with them today. We also won a few other prizes like the first prize de Vigier Awards 2015. All of these combined, I think, has led to our strong showing now.

Q: How is swissnex San Francisco helping your company achieve its goals?

Just to be able to be here is already amazing, and that’s because swissnex San Francisco chose us. As a startup, going abroad represents a huge investment. swissnex gave us a really amazing opportunity. In addition to the space they are providing, it is a really nice way to get in touch with people—we are not alone. swissnex San Francisco is like a little nest for me. They introduce us to a lot of interesting people. swissnex is really well connected in San Francisco and the Bay Area. They are truly a door opener. Being here offers a really good starting point for us to see the market opportunities; to know whom to ask, which investors to reach out to… We are really glad to have access to this network.

Q: Any tips for other Swiss startups?

Use your network of friends and family; the people who believe in you and want to help share your message and your product. And be passionate. We have a deep passion and conviction about our product, and the feeling that there is no way it will not be successful. The other thing to keep in mind always is to look attractive. We spent a lot of time on design, and I think the design helps people understand our product.