November 19, 2017

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INTERVIEW: Martina Kerbl, Ambi Climate

by Stuart Wilson, Wednesday 30 August 2017

Martina Kerbl, VP sales at Ambi Climate
Martina Kerbl, VP sales at Ambi Climate

Ambi Climate will showcase the first smart accessory for air conditioners powered by artificial intelligence (AI) at DISTREE APAC 2017 in Singapore this November. On the back of a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign, Ambi Climate is now ready to identify the top distributors in the region to open new routes-to-market. Channel APAC caught up with Martina Kerbl, VP sales at Ambi Climate, to learn more about the company’s plans in Asia Pacific region.

Channel APAC (CA): What do you want to achieve at DISTREE APAC 2017? What are your key goals for the event?

Martina Kerbl (MK): Being a completely new brand and just starting to build our distribution network, our main goal is to touch base with major distributors from the APAC region. The one-to-one meetings [at DISTREE APAC] will allow us to present the product features to key decision makers and discuss the introduction of our product in the different markets.

CA: What products will you be highlighting at DISTREE APAC 2017? What do you want distributors and channel partners to know about your portfolio?

MK: We will be showcasing our product Ambi Climate, the first AI-powered smart accessory for air conditioners (ACs) and heat pumps. Ambi Climate analyses the impact of multiple factors such as humidity, changing weather and metabolism on your thermal comfort, and auto-adjusts your room temperature, to maximise both comfort and energy savings.

Ambi Climate also offers smart home convenience. Whether it’s turning on your AC before you get home, or setting rules and timers for when you’re out of the house, you can monitor and control your AC anywhere, at anytime, through your smartphone.

Ambi Climate works with any IR remote controlled heating or cooling system, supporting over 50 brands and over 1,000 different models. In order to provide maximum compatibility with other IoT solutions, Ambi Climate also integrates with IFTTT and Amazon Alexa and has an open API. The second generation of Ambi Climate, which launched May 2017 on Kickstarter, reached 300% of its funding goal and was supported by over 1000 backers. It is being launched in retail in the second half of 2017.

Thailand launch

CA: Describe how your channel business has developed in the past 12 months? What trends have you seen and what have been the highlights for your business?

MK: The big highlight was certainly our highly successful Kickstarter campaign, where we were exposed to a large amount of media coverage with more than 200 media reviews. It generated a lot of awareness and significantly fuelled demand from end consumers as well as channel customers, and we are very glad to see that the product feedback has been so incredibly positive.

Another recent highlight was the market introduction in 2016 in Thailand – a market which we consider to have very high potential - and where we have the chance to work with a very strong and committed partner. In Hong Kong, our home market, we have managed to double our points of sale with the introduction of our new edition in summer 2017.

CA: Which geographic areas and channels represent the greatest opportunity for growth for your company in APAC?

MK: As our product targets AC users, the APAC region in general has huge potential for us, due to the hot weather. In addition, the more tech-savvy the population, the better. Countries with great market potential are therefore Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Malaysia. Also, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam are very interesting, but IoT and smart home is still at a very early stage in these markets.

CA: Why should retailers and channel partners sell your products? What makes your channel proposition better than competitors in the market?

MK: Our product provides a solution to a problem that most people in air-conditioned homes suffer from: discomfort and energy wastage due to inappropriate temperature settings. Ambi Climate, provides the basic function of controlling and tracking temperature and humidity levels in customers’ homes from literally anywhere.

But then, as opposed to its competitor brands, Ambi Climate does much more. Through the usage of AI, Ambi Climate will learn and understand your comfort level, taking into consideration not only temperature but also humidity, time of day, luminosity and your metabolism – all factors that influence how warm or cold you feel. It will map out your individual comfort profile and adjust the temperature completely autonomously at any time of day and year. This way, without any interference from your side, the temperature will feel just right, all the time.

Channel strategy

CA: Do you have a structured channel programme? Do you offer a strong margin proposition to your partners?

MK: Our strategy is to work with exclusive distributors in our key markets, who carry a suitable brand portfolio accompanied with branding and marketing experience. As building our brand is very important to us, we aim to form long-lasting relationships with strong partners in the different countries. Our margin structure is based on the individual market requirements, following an international MSRP guideline.

CA: What sort of support do you offer channel partners and retailers in terms of marketing, promotions and channel development activities?

MK: We are open to support distributors in their marketing, promotion and development activities. Their action plan forms part of our distribution contract. Apart from marketing funding, we offer all kinds of content-related support such as PR, social media, branding and training, as well as best practice cases based on our most recent experiences, to make sure that their national launch becomes a success.

CA: How quickly is your business growing in the APAC region? What market trends have you identified that are impacting your business segment?

MK: Launching our initial version on a small scale in the local market has allowed us to optimise our product offering and build a scalable business model, which is often the biggest challenge for start-ups. We are now ready to launch our second generation all over the APAC region. Following our Kickstarter success, we have seen strong interest from multiple new distributors and retailers, with whom we have opened negotiations for market entry in the second half of 2017.

Regarding the business segment, smart home and IoT is a strongly emerging trend worldwide, with CAGR of 30-50% over the next five years. It is therefore the ideal time for distributors to expand and invest into this category, and there is a very strong B2B and B2C demand for items such as ours.

Development goals

CA: Is Ambi Climate channel-friendly? How would you describe your overall go-to-market approach in the APAC market?

MK: Yes, we are a 100% channel friendly company. Due to our small and flat company structure, we are very responsive to individual queries and do everything in our power to assist distributors in making the product a success in their market. We aim to enter the APAC region progressively throughout 2017 and 2018, based on the suitable profiles we encounter and the ideal launch timing of the respective market based on seasonality and launch windows. Our goal is to have established nationwide distribution in six to seven new markets by mid-2018, but the more the better.

CA: What else should distributors attending DISTREE APAC 2017 know about Ambi Climate?

MK: We are a young, multicultural team based in Hong Kong, eager to bring our product to the world and to provide best possible service to our partners and users. By providing in-app support and working with our own proprietary IR-code database, we have absolute flexibility in troubleshooting and solving user-related problems on the spot. We speak Cantonese, French, English, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish and will be delighted to respond to your queries.

DISTREE APAC 2017

Channel APAC is an official Media Partner for regional technology and consumer electronics retail channel event DISTREE APAC taking place November 8-10th in Singapore. Vendors, distributors and retailers requiring more information about DISTREE APAC 2017 should contact stuart@channelemea.com quoting code DAP17.

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