We talked to Robert Orlewski on how S-Labs is a home management system, and this is what he had to say.
Tell us about yourself, your career, and how you joined S-Labs?
Robert Orlewski: Eighteen years ago, I started to build my work experience for Orange. For 14 years, I have held various positions, mainly implementing large IT projects. After some time, I became interested in the Internet of Things solutions market, which seemed very promising. Five years ago, I had the pleasure of establishing cooperation with Mr. Jerzy Ryłko – the leading investor of S-Labs. I take care of the development of innovative IoT solutions focused on energy efficiency. We have been developing this company together for four years.
How does S-Labs innovate?
Robert Orlewski: With the National Center for Research and Development support, we have developed two product lines at S-Labs: Appartme and enAlpha. Appartme is a commercial product aimed at developers. It ensures the protection of the most critical customer needs, i.e., energy-saving and security. Smart home products are often presented as gadgets, and we present them as utility products. Appartme fits nicely into the development market. At the moment, we cooperated with partners such as Murapol or Skanska. The EnAlpha development line is related to energy efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources and is supporting its use.
How are you and your family coping during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Robert Orlewski: During the coronavirus pandemic, my children used distance learning following the guidelines. Of course, we follow the rules of society. This isn’t an easy time for us, but we hope that soon we will enjoy freedom again. We are dealing with this situation quite well for now. We use the gastronomy offer online and participate in online theatre performances with my wife.
How does the Covid19 situation affect your business, and how are you doing?
Robert Orlewski: In the first quarter, we experienced a negative impact of Covid-19, which mainly affected revenue. We also had to deal with the reorganization of work with our company, switching to service and online sales. In the second wave of the pandemic, we encountered specific problems related to our partners’ entire branches’ quarantine, such as installation companies with whom we work as part of our system’s assembly. Our work at Appartme requires interaction with people – individual clients and developers, even though it is an IT product. We have also used various forms of assistance for entrepreneurs, including Anti-crisis Shield.
Have you had to make tough choices during the coronavirus pandemic? What did you learn?
Robert Orlewski: Reorganizing the team’s work and cutting costs are tough choices. Also, the suspension of some investment projects. But what have I learned? First of all, a practical approach to the client. Each of us found ourselves in a completely new position; the market became even more demanding. We devoted more time and energy to making our product user-friendly and making the entire process from the very beginning of the sale to the final use of Appartme in apartments. It was even simpler and more pleasant for the user.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Robert Orlewski: I approach life actively with curiosity. I can define myself as an optimist. I treat problems as challenges. I get satisfaction when I manage to deal with some adversities. I feel the desire to experience, and mobilization stimulates me to act. However, I look at reality conservatively and rationally, so I try to motivate emerging risks and problems.
Who are your competitors? How are you going to stay in the game?
Robert Orlewski: Our company’s goal is to create an apartment application. Our competitors, such as Fibaro, Grenton, or Somfy, focus more on device control. We have a slightly different approach and are committed to creating usable value. We focus on a platform that gives the user the possibility of developing additional services. A flat is usually the most significant purchase in a person’s life. We would like to have a real impact on the fact that people can feel proper control over their apartment and not be afraid of it, e.g., on vacation. We are suiting in a specific new market trend. I think that in times of recession, it will be an added value.