Interview with Keen Home co-founder Ryan Fant

Ryan Fant, co-founder of Keen Home

Ryan Fant has new venture experience as a co-founder of a managed service provider of waste solutions along with 4 years consulting for Fortune 500 manufacturing and distribution companies. Before co-founding Keen Home, he was an Associate at a boutique investment bank in NYC.

As a visionary and innovator, Ryan is on the front lines of strategic direction at Keen Home. Additionally, Ryan leverages his operational experience and Six Sigma Black Belt certification to concentrate on production, new product development, and quality control. Ryan is also a current NY Venture Fellow.

1) What is Keen Home?

Keen Home develops proactive hardware and software products to protect and enhance your home’s core systems. Keen Home’s products provide homeowners with increased comfort, improved efficiency, and a better-maintained home.

The company’s first product, the Smart Vent, seamlessly controls a home’s heating/cooling airflow on a room-by-room level, resulting in improved comfort and efficiency.

2) How did you come up with the idea for it?

I came up with the concept of the Smart Vent while trying to solve a problem in my own home. I had very tall ceilings and one air vent above my bed to provide conditioned air for my bedroom. I desperately wanted a way to control the vent and airflow with my smartphone.

3) How near are we from fully smart homes?

I believe we still have some time before we will have fully smart homes. Over the past few years, we have seen individual products, like ours, developed to solve a specific pain points in the home. Now we are seeing successful products integrate together when the combined functionality is greater than the sum of its parts. A great example is our integration with Nest. Smart Thermostat only provides one point of control for an entire home’s HVAC needs. Our Smart Vents, on the other hand, do a great job of intelligently redistributing airflow, but if the HVAC system isn’t running, we can’t provide immediate relief for our customers. When vents and thermostats work together, the customer receives an overall better experience.

4) How did your experience on Shark Tank and the investment from Robert Herjavec help your business?

Shark Tank provided Keen Home with a unique platform to build our brand. The exposure we received, and continue to see through syndication, enabled us to educate a large number of potential customers on our product and our brand. We ended up having 4 of the 5 Sharks make investment offers and in the end selected Robert’s offer. This bidding frenzy helped to bring a sense of quality and credibility to our company.

After being on the show, Robert and his team have continued to support our growth with strategic input, introductions to relevant contacts, and support of our social initiatives. Robert has a significant influencer network, and we are gratefully when we can leverage that exposure.

5) What inspired you to go into business?

My co-founder, Nayeem, and I met in business school at NYU. Neither of us went to school with the intentions of starting a company. We leveraged NYU’s $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge to validate our idea and ended up as a finalist in that competition. We also were selected to be part os TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield at the same time. These achievements gave us the confidence we needed to leave our banking careers and start Keen Home.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Starting a company consumes every waking minute of your life. Make sure that you are completely passionate about your idea and committed to the concept through the good and the bad.

We would like to thank Ryan for speaking with us.

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