Now that Tom Thorpe has finished his senior year at Marist Ashgrove – it’s time to crank up new growth.
Tom started his company Smart Home Brisbane when he was only 16 and in year 11, using the money he saved from a part time job at a local Ashgrove café. Smart Home Brisbane is a Home Automation Company specializing in “easy to use – whole home automation”. Customers have grown organically since that time, on the back of good and reliable service. Tom graduated in November with the class of 2020, and now, unshackled from school commitments has big plans to drive growth. Just to add a further challenge, Tom starts a Bachelor of Business and Information Technology at QUT in February.
- OBA: As a start up, back in 2019, what were the biggest challenges you had to over come.
Tom: The biggest challenge for me would definitely be juggling school, weekend sports, my part time job at a local café and then finding the time to meet with clients to plan and install smart devices for their homes.
- OBA: How did you end up in the Home Tech Field.
Tom: I was asked by a family friend, moving into a new house, if I would be able to help them bring their new home into the 21st century. I’ve always had an interest with technology and loved the challenge of learning what worked with what and how it could help improve people’s everyday lives. Seeing how even the simplest things can help make mundane tasks easy and fun while improving peoples home lives made me want to pursue a career that would allow me to continue to create smart homes.
- OBA: Why do you think Smart Home Brisbane has been successful.
Tom: I believe that our businesses success has been our ability to understand our customer’s requirements and supply and install products that are human friendly and easy to use. It has been our focus to personalise the installation process, explain how to use the new products, so our customers can full maximize the benefits of the new technologies without feeling like they have to control a spaceship. New technology – made easy I suppose.
We have also been running ‘Smart Life Classes’ to help people better understand the existing devices in their lives like their smartphones and TV’s. This has helped me to create customers who then feel comfortable enough to venture into the world of smart homes or tell their friends about Smart Home Brisbane.
- OBA: Who did you draw your inspiration from?
Tom: My parents are both very entrepreneurial with businesses of their own so my whole life I’ve been exposed to the ups and downs of owning and running your own business. My Dad in recent years has wanted to create something with my brothers and I that we could work on and grow with a few ventures that gained a bit of traction but never really grew to fruition. I knew that I loved working with people and the latest technology so starting Smart Home Brisbane was the next natural step for me.
- OBA: For a start up in this sector what sort of capital was required and how did you source these funds.
Tom: I managed to start Smart Home Brisbane thanks to the money that I had saved working at a local Ashgrove café. It allowed me to create the businesses website myself and develop a healthy online presence on social media. From this I managed to become the most viewed home automation company on Google and Facebook in Brisbane which meant that I could use their advertising deals to further grow my business. From there I’ve slowly gained a greater presence and online position that has allowed me to leave my part time job and pursue smart homes full time.
- What are your growth plans for Smart Home Brisbane, and how do you intend to drive with your new tertiary commitments?
Tom: Over the next few years I hope to be established enough that I can have other people working with me as well as use an open source platform to allow people to run their own easy smart home server off a computer the size of a credit card.