Austria has only recently had its first unicorns, i.e. young companies that have reached a valuation of one billion dollars. Bitpanda, GoStudent and TTTech Auto are already known, and there is also Tricentis, which has been US-owned for many years. In a February analysis, the Viennese start-up investor and M&A consultant i5invest also named twelve “Soonicorns” who could soon achieve this status. It was surprising that i5invest named two new unicorns.
One of them is Loxone , a manufacturer of smart home solutions based in Upper Austria. The company is said to be worth more than one billion euros, as has now been confirmed to Trending Topics.
"We make buildings intelligent"
Loxone has been around since 2009. The company is still based in the Upper Austrian municipality of Kollerschlag, directly on the border with Germany. The company was brought into being by the two founders Thomas Moser (formerly ekey) and Martin Öller (formerly eworx), who still manage Loxone today together with CEO Rüdiger Keinberger, who joined in 2017. The company's goal: “We make buildings intelligent. Our vision is to use automation solutions to make buildings simpler, safer, more energy-efficient and more comfortable for people," says Keinberger.
Moser and Öller both come from the technology sector. Martin Öller previously worked with Eworx on IT solutions, while Thomas Moser used to use Ekey to access buildings using fingerprints. Together they wanted to develop an entire, networked automation system for buildings. Today Loxone offers a system based on presence detection. The company's "mini server" recognizes how many people are currently in a room. The system controls a number of operations, including lighting, heating, air conditioning, irrigation and energy. Neither comfort nor energy efficiency should be neglected.
No "ordinary" unicorn
So far, Loxone hasn't actually seen itself as a unicorn. So far, the company has grown without venture capital. So I5invest did not determine the rating based on financing rounds, but rather on the basis of financial performance indicators (sales, growth, profitability, market share). Even if Loxone had never dealt with the subject of the evaluation, Keinberger still sees the analysis as credible. After all, the financial strength of the company is very strong. "In addition, potential investors who would pay this price for company shares keep knocking on the door," says the CEO.
Loxone currently employs more than 500 people, and the company has realized around 100 products to date. According to the Loxone CEO, every fourth newly built single or two-family house in Austria is now equipped with the smart home technology of the secret unicorn. “Our products have to be innovative, simple, reliable and universally applicable. While other solutions on the market use built-in products for standard automation, all of our products can also be updated,” explains Rüdiger Keinberger.
Company rejects cloud solutions
But even if Loxone's products are geared towards innovation, the company is rather skeptical about some modern technologies, especially cloud applications and voice control. “We do not use the cloud and are therefore in our own system. The Miniserver recognizes everything that happens in the house, but it belongs to the customers, which means that they also own their own data. Cybercrime is also based on hacking cloud solutions, which is why we have always avoided it. That's why we have a cautious position towards voice control," says Keinberger.
In the meantime, however, the company has given in to the trend towards voice control and only this year released a product that is connected to Siri with the Apple HomeKit. The basic automation package from Loxone with a mini server and software costs around 1,500 euros. A fully networked system, including smart lights, can cost up to 20,000 euros for a single-family home.
From zero to over a billion dollars
Since its inception 12 years ago, the Loxone company has undergone an amazing evolution. It is a leader in the field of intelligent living in Europe, even though there is no investor behind it. In collaboration with Loxone installation partners, more than 200,000 projects have been completed in more than 100 countries, 50% of which in the last 30 months. The targets for further growth focus mainly on energy management projects as well as in other areas such as housing for the elderly and disabled
Rüdiger Keinberger, CEO of Loxone, expressed his satisfaction with the results of the study and believes Loxone will continue to grow in collaboration with its installation partners.
Loxone is currently focusing on the construction of the new Loxone Campus - the European automation center in Kollerschlag, Austria. This unique building will house a hotel, a 3,000-square-meter warehouse and logistics center, and offices with approximately 300 new employees. The facility is to be a place focused on training and inspiration.
The beginnings are also recalled by Milan Randl, the director responsible for the Polish, Czech, Slovak and British markets, who started his adventure with Loxone in Kollerschlag, and then expanded its operations to branches in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. In 2021, he also took over responsibility for the Loxone office in the UK.
Loxone remains loyal to Kollerschlag
So now Loxone is considered a secret unicorn. Despite the great success, the company remains true to its home Kollerschlag. “We are often asked why we are at the end of Austria, but Passau and Linz are equally far away from us. In addition, we are connected to both the A3 and the A1, so to speak the lifelines of Germany and Austria. The rural location also has advantages for our employees, because there are neither traffic jams nor the tedious search for a parking space on the way there,” explains the CEO. Above all, they want to grow through acquisitions that are made from their own cash flow.
In the future, Loxone also wants to focus on multi-storey buildings. The company is confident here, particularly because of the increasing demand for energy efficiency. The expansion of the headquarters is also already in progress, including PV systems. Loxone is also currently working on internationalization, with locations in Poland, Switzerland and France planned. Keinberger does not comment on the exact sales development, but gives an indication: "I took up the position of CEO of Loxone in 2017 with the aim of bringing the company's sales to one billion euros before I retire. I am now 57 years old.”
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