In the business of smart home security, it’s tough not being Amazon or Google.

Over the last year or so, both companies have released DIY security systems–Amazon under its Ring brand, and

Over the last year or so, both companies have released DIY security systems–Amazon under its Ring brand, and Google under Nest–that complement their popular doorbell and security cameras. Both companies can also undercut competitors on price, and can lean on other products like the Amazon Echo or Google Home speakers for unique integrations. Amazon’s speakers, for instance, can listen for breaking glass and alert Ring’s home monitoring system, while Google lets users arm view camera feeds through its smart displays. Amazon’s recent acquisition of mesh router maker Eero is a reminder of how hard it is for smaller companies to build a competing ecosystem.

In the face of such intimidating competition, I was curious how companies like August, SimpliSafe, Wyze, and Netatmo planned to survive with their own connected cameras and security systems. Here’s how they plan to outsmart the tech giants:

Nail the details

For SimpliSafe CEO Chad Laurans, taking on the behemoths is a matter of focus. SimpliSafe sells a set of sensors, security cameras, and a keypad, then charges $15 per month for its monitoring service. The company now has more than 3 million paid subscribers, up from 2 million in early 2018.

“What we do is we wake up every day thinking about security, and how we change those outcomes, and how we create a better value proposition in security,” Laurans says. “I strongly suspect those folks don’t wake up every day thinking about that. They wake up thinking about how they monetize data.”

The notion of a small, focused company taking on larger, lumbering competitors can seem cliché, but Laurans points to examples of where SimpliSafe’s singular mission is advantageous. Nest, for instance, outsources its customer support and home monitoring, which means the team might be missing valuable feedback from customers. He also criticizes the design of Nest’s Alarm device, which is meant to sit on a table, as a “critical security flaw.”

[Photo: courtesy of SimpliSafe]
“We studied how people use security systems, and learned that if you don’t put the keypad on the door, people just don’t use the system,” Laurans says. “”We studied all of these factors, all the good experiences, all the bad experiences, and constantly work on improving them, and we have a 10-year head start on that.”