Lutron Electronics Works Hard to Simplify the Internet of Things: Making the Right Connection for 25 Years

Business Wire
Lutron Electronics Works Hard to Simplify the Internet of Things: Making the Right Connection for 25 Years
From technology to design, Lutron continues to improve smart home solutions with new customer experiences

January 06, 2017 09:57 AM Eastern Standard Time
COOPERSBURG, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With its superior quality and reliable solutions that focus on exceptional experience, design and technology, lighting control pioneer Lutron Electronics continues to advance the lighting control and connected home technology industry at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). With products that range from the affordable and easy-to-install Caséta Wireless system, to professionally installed and connected RadioRA 2 and HomeWorks QS total home control systems, Lutron has set the standard and maintains top-market position with solutions that drive the industry forward and make people’s lives better.

“Lutron is a unique smart home brand,” said Matt Swatsky, Senior Director of Caséta Wireless. “Our hardware is beautiful, our software is thoughtfully designed and easy to use, and our products are backed by superior quality and support, including Lutron’s 24/7 hotline. Lutron has maintained a strong focus on quality for 55 years, including 25+ years of experience in smart homes and smart buildings.”

New Announcements

Lutron’s quality and innovation continue to be showcased at this year’s CES through alliances with smart home brands and product line expansions, such as:

Samsung SmartThings™ –Early this year, Caséta Wireless customers will connect its system dimmers and Lutron Serena Shades to the Samsung SmartThings app, providing another option of control and convenience, for a more complete smart home.
Nest Cam – By leveraging the intelligence of Nest’s person alerts, Caséta Wireless dimmers and switches can now turn on when a person is detected by Nest Cam Indoor or Outdoor, conveniently adding additional security and providing peace of mind.
Apple® HomeKit – Lutron’s Caséta Wireless system supports Apple HomeKit, enabling homeowners to control their Lutron dimmers and systems using Siri on their iPhone® or iPad®.
Amazon Alexa – Following its integration with Amazon Alexa last year, Alexa can now control lighting, shading and temperature scenes with Caséta Wireless, RadioRA 2 and HomeWorks QS, making it easy for homeowners to set a scene by simply saying, “Alexa, Good Morning.”
Logitech® Pop Home Switch – Everyone in the family can trigger actions and adjust Caséta Wireless dimmers and Serena Shades with the Logitech Pop Home Switch.
Wink Hub 2 – Caséta Wireless has integrated with Wink Hub 2 through Lutron’s Clear Connect wireless protocol, built into the next generation hub.
Hunter® Fan Company Fans – Homeowners can now can easily control their HomeKit-enabled Hunter Symphony and Signal ceiling fans to a preferred setting or scene with Caséta Wireless, through the Lutron app or convenient voice control.
Sonos® – Caséta Wireless has added an integration capability to Sonos with the launch of the Pico Remote for Audio, changing the way people listen to music at home.
ELV+ Dimmer – The Caséta Wireless product line has expanded to include the ELV+ dimmer, a phase selectable dimmer that simplifies light bulb compatibility.
Best in Class Connections

Since launching RadioRA in 1998, Lutron has continued to form alliances with best-in-class brands, integrating new technology, like voice control that makes it easy for customers to interact with and control their connected homes. Convenient, connected control enhances peace of mind and improves quality of life. In addition to voice control with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa, Lutron works hard to align with brands such as Nest, Comcast, AT&T Digital Life, Savant, Honeywell and Logitech.

“Consumers want simple, reliable technology in their homes, and easy control of their household systems,” said Michael Smith, Vice President of Residential Sales. “Integration with Lutron Caséta Wireless, RadioRA 2, and HomeWorks QS systems does just that – provides customers with the ability to say, ‘Alexa, turn on my lights’ or ‘Siri, Good Morning,’ while still preserving their ability to control lights with the Lutron Pico remote, keypad or Lutron app when voice control is not practical.”

Lutron Quality and User Experience – “it just works”

Twenty-five years of wireless leadership and expertise in both smart homes and smart buildings is built into all of Lutron solutions, regardless of price, purpose or usage, and its innovative products feature superior technology, aesthetics, cognition, ergonomics and performance. With each smart home system, Lutron takes care of the customer and delivers superior products that combine quality design and technology that works the first time. Lutron products are backed by a deep understanding of technology as well as a 24/7 technical support hotline that a person always answers.

From watching TV to helping the kids with homework, or enjoying a quiet dinner, life is more relaxing and comfortable in the right light and setting. Ask Alexa or Siri to control lights when your arms are full of groceries. Use convenient remote control capability when the kids are sleeping or while you’re talking on the phone. Versatile Lutron wireless solutions also offer tremendous benefits for aging in place or disabled customers.

Where to Buy Caséta Wireless

Priced from $99, Caséta Wireless kits are available on, Apple Stores and,® and Best Buy® stores, and The Home Depot® stores, and Lowe’s Home Improvement centers, Magnolia® Design Centers, select Magnolia Home Theater stores, and from local electricians, lighting showrooms, electrical distributors and home technology professionals.

The free Lutron App for Caséta Wireless is available on iTunes® and Google Play®. Caséta Wireless enables dimming of incandescent, halogen, dimmable CFL and dimmable LED bulbs – visit the Lutron LED Control Center of Excellence for more information about compatible bulbs. Visit for more information.

At Scarlet Startups, VC Brett Topche Discusses Fascinating Story Behind Jet

Esther Surden
Publisher & Editor,

                                         Brett Topche at Scarlet Startups | Esther Surden

Undeniably, the biggest startup story in New Jersey in 2016 happened in August, when Walmart agreed to acquire Jet, the Hoboken-based e-commerce site, for $3.3 billion. It may have been the biggest e-commerce exit in history, according to Brett Topche, whose firm, Mentor Tech Ventures (Philadelphia), now known as Red and Blue Ventures, had invested in the deal.

Topche came to Scarlet Startups at Rutgers Business School in Piscataway in October to share with students and other interested folks his experience with Jet. Topche has been a venture capitalist for 15 years and got his start with the New Jersey Tech Council Venture Fund. He moved on to Mentor Tech, which invests in companies associated with the University of Pennsylvania. And that is how the venture capitalists at Mentor Tech became acquainted with Jet CEO Marc Lore.

At that time, Lore, who was in the executive MBA program at UPenn, had an idea for an e-commerce company, 1-800-Diapers, which later became Quisdi, whose brands included and One of Lore’s professors told him that he ought to talk to “this venture firm that is right here on campus. A lot of that goes to the power of networking and students taking advantage of the network around them. You have brilliant professors and brilliant alumni that can really help you out,” Topche said. “That’s how we got involved in Quisdi and how we started working with Marc.”

Mentor Tech wrote Quisdi a check. Not only did Mentor Tech establish a relationship with Lore, they worked closely with him.

“We helped him out with some key initiatives when he was working on private labeling, making their own branded consumables,” Topche said.

Particularly, Mentor Tech managing partner Michael B. Aronson was able to get him some key introductions, including folks at the state level who were able to help him get low cost financing when Quisdi was building out its distribution center.

“We were pretty close advisors to the management team and as a result of that relationship we were invited back,” he said. Quisdi was bought by for $545 million, making Mentor Tech’s investors happy, Topche said.

Torches and Pitchforks

When the opportunity to invest in Jet came along, Topche said, Mentor Tech had to take a look at it. At this point in his presentation, Topche put up a slide showing an angry mob with torches and pitchforks.

“We were pretty confident that this would have been what our investors would have looked like if we had passed on a deal with a founder that had made them so much money,” he said with tongue in cheek. Of course the venture capitalists had to do due diligence, he said.

Topche noted that e-commerce was a massive market — $263 billion and growing in 2014 — and the team that Lore assembled had a lot of insight into the market because most of them came from Quidsi. Also, he said, there are a lot of traditional retailers that are getting bested by e-retailers because they are having a hard time doing e-commerce. Jet was coming to the market with a business model that might help them fight back.

“Ultimately venture capital is about people,” Topche said. Investors know that business plans change. “When you write a business plan, you are making assumptions about what’s going to happen in your company and in the market in the next couple of years. You can’t possibly know that,” he said.

Companies that succeed, he said, take feedback from the market place, know where they’ve been wrong and understand how they can change. They incorporate that change and move forward.Lore had the characteristics of a leader who could do this, he said, but more importantly, he was coming back in the same sector.

“We knew he had a lot of experience and he also paid attention to detail,” Topche said. “Behind the scenes there was a lot of operational and logistics stuff that allowed Jet to work. Marc knew all that cold. He also knew where the hidden costs were in the business.”

The Ability to Raise a War Chest

“The last piece that was important about Marc,” Topche said, “was that he had the ability to raise a war chest. He was going out there to compete head-on with Amazon. If you go out to compete with Amazon and you are going to raise just $750,000, you are going to get killed really quickly. If you are going to compete with someone who is a giant, you’d better go into it with enough money to give you some staying power.”

Also Lore was able to “get the band back together,” Topche said. No founder does it alone, so the fact that the chief financial officer, chief operating officer, chief revenue officer and others all came from Quidsi made a difference. They all had worked together and trusted each other. They knew how to disagree in ways that ended up with a better decision.

“I’ve seen so many companies undermined by cofounder issues or by team issues. If you have a team that works together and trusts each other there’s an enormous reduction of risk for the investor,” he said.

Competing with Amazon was a risk that Mentor Tech had to evaluate. Jeff Bezos is a formidable opponent, Topche said, noting that before he came to Amazon he was on Wall Street and the “biggest shark in the tank … We were really concerned about what Amazon’s response would be.” Mentor Tech spent a lot of time, almost like an exercise in game theory, trying to figure out what they would do and how Jet could respond, he said.

Mentor Tech decided to make the investment of course.

Taking the Heat for Changing the Business Model

Jet’s business model, Topche said, had been to reduce prices for consumers by squeezing inefficiencies out of the system. For example, if you put more things in the box, you get a discount. If you get things from a closer distribution center, you get a discount. If you don’t want the privilege to return an item, you get a discount. They would provide products at cost, in exchange for a yearly membership fee. Market research, however, determined that people would be happy with smaller discounts and there was no reason to keep a barrier like a membership fee in place, Topche said.

So, three months after it launched, Jet changed its business model, taking considerable heat from the press and analysts.

“This is where it comes back to picking the right team. They could have tried to save face and stuck with the model that they didn’t think would work in the long term, but they said ‘no, we’ll take the embarrassment and the heat and we will change.’ ”

Topche said that Jet’s investor group — especially those on the board-- essentially told Jet that they hadn’t backed the business model; they backed Jet as an e-commerce play. He said they would let Jet’s smart people figure it out.

“Once they changed the model and took the barrier away from people using it, it took off,” he said. Jet became the fastest growing e-commerce company in history, Topche said.

The Exit

While Mentor Tech had no formal say in Jet’s exit negotiations with Walmart which were closely held and confidential, Topche gave some opinions about why he believed the deal worked and why it made sense.

For example, Jet’s model had a flaw. In order to succeed, Jet had to have the lowest cost out there before they got to scale. However, they didn’t have the volume yet to support that. Walmart has the lowest cost of sales in the industry because they buy more of everything, he said.

“If you take Walmart and layer on Jet, Jet’s model gets profitable really quickly,” he said.

Walmart’s CEO, Topche said, was also trying to figure out how to leverage its assets for e-commerce.

“In a world where overnight shipping and fulfillment has become vitally important, they had mini distribution centers (stores) everywhere. Layering on Jet’s technology, which allows you to optimize which distribution centers you will ship from” would be helpful, Topche said.

Also, Jet helped solve a brand challenge for Walmart. Jet could attract a customer base that Walmart couldn’t touch because that customer wouldn’t think to walk into a Walmart.

“Walmart is retaining the Jet brand for exactly that reason,” he said. “They can have a Walmart that targets one demographic and Jet that targets another, and they don’t have to get in the way.”

And Jet was still going through a lot of money at a time when market conditions were tightening. Customer acquisition at this scale can be expensive, Topche said. Jet had to build a brand, spend a lot of money on TV advertisements and purchase a domain name that would help people remember the name of the company, all of which took an enormous amount of capital. In 2014, when Mentor Tech invested, “people were writing giant checks all over the place, but good times tend not to last,” he said.

By 2015 the venture markets had tightened up. Jet was able to raise a lot of money, but they were going to have to raise more in 2016 or early 2017.

“They would have been ready to do it, but it would have been tough,” he said.

Then Walmart came in to the mix with a very attractive offer, he said. If Jet hadn’t taken the Walmart deal, they were going to have to “raise at least a billion in cash and sell a good chunk of the company,” Topche said.

They were going to have to grow their valuation a while lot just to get back to the point they already were, just to make up for all the dilution they were about to take.

“When you combine the tightening market conditions with Walmart as a logical partner, then you have the transaction we wound up with,” Topche said.

After his discussion of the Jet deal, Topche took questions from the Scarlet Startups audience.

Esther Surden is Publisher and Editor of NJTechWeekly, and a contributor to Philly Tech News. This article originally appeared in NJTechWeekly, and is republished here with her permission.

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