Igor, a Des Moines-area start-up, was founded in 2013 by Dwight Stewart, who is leading the company's technology development. Since 2013, the company has raised over $9 million from state funds, angel investors and venture capital investors to scale its smart lighting, POE technology. Igor has developed a Power over Ethernet (PoE) product to help companies better manage lighting and electricity in their buildings.
With a global market increasingly trending toward smart homes and businesses, Igor has quickly made a name for itself as a dynamic player in the future of the lighting industry. This leadership was validated by the invitation from industry leader, Cisco, to join their Digital Ceiling Partner Community. In November 2015, Igor brought on a new CEO, Steven L'Heureux. Since then, Igor has announced a series of partnerships.
Sometime in early 2012, Dwight Stewart and Cisco Systems started to have an evolving conversation about their Energywise program. Being in the business of selling network ports, Cisco is continually looking for growth opportunities for selling additional ports. Since Wi-Fi reduces the need for ports, Cisco was seeking a competitive and compelling technology for wired connectivity. They became aware that using an Ethernet cable to deliver power in addition to connectivity reestablishes the benefit for wired connectivity. Through many conversations, it became evident that PoE lighting has several very unique benefits. Cisco has created a protocol called EnergyWise that helps regulate the power sent via Ethernet so the transmitted power level is adjusted based on the demand of the connected device. The power is not transmitted if the device indicates an off state or is disconnected.
Through these discussions, many ideas were considered, but the idea of digitizing lighting seemed interesting to both sides. Eventually, the idea morphed into today’s compelling vision of powering, controlling and monitoring light at a granular level as an IT solution (rather than as a facility solution). It also seemed clear that lighting is not the end goal, but is the entry point to a wider vision.
Pursuing Power-Over-Ethernet LED Lighting
After Dwight decided to start pursuing PoE LED lighting, one of the first steps was to determine a manufacturing strategy. There were two options: either white label existing lights and add a controller, or work with a manufacturer to enable their lights so they may sell them directly. The choice was to enable existing manufacturers.
Since Igor aims to be an enabler, the opportunity lies in creating a technology that any one of the 20,000 lighting manufacturers in the United States could incorporate into their products. There will be a massive transformation for lighting to become LED-based and individually controlled, and the opportunity was to create a foundation for all to leverage. This option is like Google’s model of Android providing a foundation for many mobile devices, compared to Apple’s individual offering competing on its own. Considering the traditional lighting control companies use proprietary technologies, this open approach becomes a clear differentiator for Igor and its partners. Recognizing the endless possibilities, Cisco quickly requested Igor-enabled lights for demonstration to customers.
In November 2015, Igor hired Steven L’Heureux as its CEO, President and Chairman. Steven had achieved a noted turnaround of Ryko Solutions, a large, privately-owned manufacturing company based in Grimes, IA. Steve L’Heureux led the most recent capital raising efforts, securing $9 million in total financing.
Currently, Igor is in the process of establishing a network of technology and OEM partnerships.