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How can digitization be humanized successfully? How much technology can we control? The founding team of DIRROR addressed these central questions and in response has brought the first digital mirror computer to the market. With a touch of the multi-touch displays, can this becomes the computer of the future? We are talking to Claus Weibrecht, CEO & Founder of the digital Agency “IronShark GmbH, Germany”.
Claus, could you first briefly introduce the company. What is Dirror?
Okay, Dirror is the control panel of your digital life. We think there are more and more devices in your home like smart heating tools, smart fridges, smart speakers – things that all speak in different languages. We thought it would be great to have one device, which helps you controlling all of them. And this device should be as beautiful as possible. That was the idea of creating Dirror, which has all these cool features to control your smart home. As well as offering all possibilities of a beautiful tablet.
So what is then a difference between Dirror and a touch screen TV? Because you can also do that with a smart TV, right?
There are some major differences. First of all, our device looks great, it has a wooden frame, beautiful mirror surface, and we have software based on Windows 10 that is perfect for controlling all these different smart devices. And because of that we are able to control nearly all smart home devices out there.
What are the major applications of the mirror?
First of all, for the private sector – the main application of the device is to control the smart home devices that you have at home. And for B2B usage we have hotels using the device for customers self service. It means for example, that they can print tickets, look for the directions of the points where they would like to go, check train times. They can do all the things that they would normally do with a concierge but they can do it themselves with DIRROR. There is also the possibility to use it in restaurants or tourist information points. It can be also used in conference rooms or entrance to the building or the foyer of the company to show some basic information, do a quick survey and so many more things.
What is your future and what are the most important steps you want to undertake right now?
We would like to be the device that is in every single home. I mean, our vision is to have Dirror in every home. And Dirror is the device that everyone is using for controlling all of the smart home devices. Our future is to extend our screen sizes. That would be more convenient for retail market. And we are focusing on software development to combines cool things like control of smart homes and connecting social media accounts just in one app.
How did you start? And how did you develop the mirror? It is a completely different thing to develop a mobile application on your smartphone and a physical product.
That was quite challenging, however to understand the history of Dirror you need to know the background of the founders. Both of us are experienced entrepreneurs. We’ve had companies for more than 14 years now. And we decided, one and a half year ago, that we want to design a control panel for digital life. We thought that the best idea to put it into life would be through designing of a digital mirror. And first thing we did was conducting research of how to develop a hardware device, what kind of hardware components we need and how we can link it up all together in a way that it is perfect. We also needed to study what kind of things we have to do to ensure that we are able to react to the customer feedback, because we are the first on the market to develop a smart mirror and sell that to everyone. This means there is no previous experience you can rely on. You have to make your own experiences and that mean you have to have a product line that is flexible to minor changes, or maybe also to major changes, to sell the product that is a perfect fit for the need of the customer.
Do you call yourself a startup then? There is no market, it is a new product. What are the biggest challenges for you?
Alright, first big challenge we had was simply to develop the device. Fortunately, right now all the hardware trouble is gone, however, it doesn’t mean the challenges are gone as well. The most difficult thing right now is to inform the world that it is possible to have a device like ours. It is completely different from selling a smart TV for example, because everyone knows what a smart TV is. So, in that case it is enough to advertise the key word “smart TV” and get some business done. For us it’s not that easy. We need partners and places to show the product.
What are your target markets?
Right now we are selling in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Poland. But we are working on contract with partners all over the world but starting in Europe first. And this year we stay inside Europe, but we hope we can also jump over the ocean, to the others continents as well.
What is your international business model? Do you work with distributors or plan to operate yourself outside of Germany?
We are looking for partners from other countries right now. We are too small to cover all different countries by ourselves. It is very difficult to provide good customer support and conduct sales presentations in other countries because it helps to see the device to know how great it is.
Claus Weibrecht, 31 Years old, CEO & Founder of the digital Agency “IronShark GmbH, Germany”
2002 Founder of IronShark as the youngest entrepreneur in Thuringia
2011 Winner of the IQ Innovationspreis IT with DeepView – an image recognition technologie
2016 The DIRROR Story began
2016-09 Start selling and shipping DIRROR to the first customers
2017 Winner of the Innovationspreis IT with DIRROR – worlds first digital mirror