At top of the class, Smart Home Studio owner finds market niche, powers up sales
Success Stories

At top of the class, Smart Home Studio owner finds market niche, powers up sales

Imagine starting a new business amid the pandemic. Now imagine starting from zero: “No connections, no money, no capital, no partners.”

That’s what Juan Santos says he faced, along with a stiff learning curve, when starting his business, Smart Home Studio, from scratch. He had a successful event marketing business that got crushed by the pandemic in 2020. When considering what other type of businesses he could open, home automation interested him.

He had read about how Amazon, Apple and Google were investing big in smart home technology. “This indicated to me that there was something interesting in that area. Technology is technology, so when all the market processes changed during the pandemic with people investing in improving their homes, everything made sense,” he says. He did more research and decided to take the plunge and opened the business in 2021.

“Home automation is a very nice tool to have. It’s like having a smartphone. It has its pros and cons, but mostly it helps improve our lives, making them more comfortable, efficient and relaxed. For example, with smart locks, you can control access and know who came to your house and when. Security cameras also provide valuable information in today’s world where security concerns are high,” Santos says. With simple voice commands a homeowner can control the security features, lighting, audio, air conditioning and more.

“Our first project was with a friend of mine in Kansas City, and from there, we’ve been growing, making mistakes, and learning from the process.”

Santos initially targeted homes valued between $800,000 to $2 million. But early on he learned his services were more suited to the luxury market’s multi-million dollar homes.

“We specialize in providing complete solutions for luxury homes, making them smart rather than just connected. It’s about making life easier and more convenient. We have a huge market here, and my focus is on growing the business in this market. Expansion may happen in the future, but for now, I want to focus on maximizing the potential here.”

About this time, he also connected with Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within the university’s college of business that offers no-cost business consulting to small businesses in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Mark Mungenast, an SBDC at FIU consultant who is a specialist in business development, strategy, sales and marketing, has been working with Santos since 2021.

“Sometimes you need someone with knowledge, with experience, and someone who is up to date who can help you to deal with new ideas and strategies. Mark has been a very important part of the business and this learning process,” says Santos.  “Working with him has been like having a board of directors working by my side.”

Early on, when Santos’s sales tactics weren’t producing the results he wanted, Mungenast suggested he focus on reaching people directly related to the luxury home industry, such as realtors, builders, interior designers and architects. That was a turning point for Santos.

Mungenast has also helped him to strengthen his SEO strategy with more thought into keywords, and he also recommended a database for research, Apollo. In addition, their sessions include a lot  of brainstorming – what if scenarios – about new services Santos could offer or new business development strategies he could deploy, Mungenast says.

“I appreciate his creativity and also his logic,” says Mungenast. “He uses a logical a methodology when he goes through a problem – ‘this is what I need to do next, and here’s my priorities.’  You also need the creativity when you think about what a smart home is. I think those qualities have helped him to be successful.”

The strategies are working. Every year Santos has been able to increase the size of his contracts; now they are typically 10-20 times higher than when he started, thanks to targeting the right market with sound business development strategies.

“I now understand that my customer is not the person who needs to change a couple of cameras. I focus on creating a complete solution – taking care of home automation, security, sound, lighting, networking, everything. We’re very clear and very honest with clients and that has helped me to be recommended every time.”

What’s the ultimate smart home? “When you talk about technology, the sky’s the limit,” Santos says. “Nobody understands yet where is the maximum of the services that you can receive from home automation. I try to offer a lot of information and documentation. We try to be detailed and specific with everything that we provide to them.”

As for expansion, Santos continues to see a huge market in South Florida and just beyond. “This state is very, very, very strong for what we do. There are many luxury homes and condominiums, and luxury in the commercial area is really huge,” Santos says.

Mungenast has recently been working with Santos on hiring salespeople – right now it is all Santos. Santos’ next goal is to establish a new commercial division in the next year.

What advice would Santos give to other entrepreneurs?

“Believe in yourself and what you are doing. Be patient – it’s one of the biggest challenges. Working with people like Mark is smart because you have to learn and build a team. Be confident in what you’re doing. The market deserves to receive a better product and better quality,” says Santos. “During the process, you will learn a lot about what your customers want.”


Smart Home Studio

Smart Home Studio



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