Charles Fränkl of Smartfrog

Category: Future heads

© Smartfrog Ltd.

© Smartfrog Ltd.


Smartfrog is a startup that enjoys a strong growth. Within the course of one year only, the IoT company was able to achieve a sales growth of 880 percent. Around 20 months after their product was launched, the company already attracted users in 161 countries. Smartfrog aims at making everyday objects smarter and connecting them with the Internet. In order to achieve this, the startup company developed a universal IoT platform where various tailor-made IoT solutions can be provided. With the Swiss entrepreneur Charles Fränkl being the CEO, an experienced internet and Telco veteran is leading the company. Under his leadership, Smartfrog aims at becoming the market leader.

Mr. Fränkl, you are the CEO of Smartfrog, a technology company operating in the field of “Internet of Things” (IoT). Can you explain in more detail what Smartfrog actually does as a company?

It is about making everyday objects smarter and connecting them to the internet, for example with an app and a cloud service. Our aim is to make people’s lives more convenient, efficient and secure, by providing modern technologies in a user-friendly way and at an affordable price. To this end, we at Smartfrog have developed a universal IoT platform where various tailor-made IoT solutions can be provided around the world.

First of all, we were focussing on the area of security. When the users can monitor their home, look after their children, pets or loved ones who need care, our product creates a real benefit for them. We provide a complete home monitoring solution consisting of an IP camera, app and video cloud storage around the clock. Moreover, with a monthly charge of 5.95 € with the camera included, almost anyone can afford this solution. And, last but not least, there is no minimum contract term, that means the contract can be cancelled on a monthly basis. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic today. Everyday objects that were once operated only by us develop a life on their own. What are the advantages for everyday use?

The Internet of Things is the next global trend that will change our lives in the same way as the internet and mobile phones have done in the last few decades. Integrating everyday objects into the internet provides great benefits. For the individual, the Internet of Things represents a considerable saving of time as everyday things can be done and controlled remotely. People can use the time gained thereby for other productive activities or for their own fitness and health. This also increases productivity and well-being of society. Thanks to the IoT, we will be able to live more secure, more efficient and more sustainable lives. Resources like water or energy can be used according to the actual needs, the service life of products can be improved, and we can prevent diseases through better prevention.

What are the disadvantages – or aren’t there any?

With IoT, the current challenge is to clearly convey the benefits of technology to the consumers. In the last few years, a number of poorly conceived, very complex and expensive products have been developed that only thrilled a small group of “tech-savvy nerds”, but not the mass market. To make the IoT accessible to a broader group of users, we need to develop products and solutions that are user-friendly, affordable and secure, with data security being the top priority for consumers.

On your homepage you promise to provide precisely this data security. How can you ensure this? 

Our team contributes with many years of experience in the field of hosting, Fintech and antivirus/internet security. Smartfrog provides SSL-encryption for all video data – similar to the encryption used for online banking. The data are stored in highly secure TÜV- and ISO-approved data centres in Germany. Our Smartfrog video monitoring solution furthermore received the highest possible IT security level with three out of three possible security stars, awarded by the independent IT security institute AV-TEST. Thus, it was the first IP camera in the world to receive this certificate.

Who makes up your target group and whom do you want to address in particular?  

We at Smartfrog are committed to making modern technologies user-friendly, affordable and easily accessible for everyone. Therefore, we would like to address a large target group with our products and to create the Internet of Things for everyone. This also includes an immediate product availability. For this reason, we distribute our solutions not only through our own online shop, but also on an international basis through eTail and retail stores, such as Amazon or the mail-order company Otto. Marketing alliances are also part of our major distribution channels. This enables us to sell our products through cooperation with partners with large customer bases.

Smartfrog is one of the best-funded IoT startups worldwide. Was it a difficult journey to get there?  

Professional investors are looking for good investment opportunities in the same way as startups are looking for the right investors. If the business model and the team work well, and ideas are effectively implemented, most investors are naturally strongly interested in investing into the company. The first investors were convinced to invest in Smartfrog by our business model, our experienced founders and the management team with their many decades of experience in the field of establishing and developing companies on emerging markets. In view of the positive corporate development, new and existing investors were further encouraged to participate in the subsequent financing rounds.

Already prior to the opening of this year’s IFA exhibition, Smartfrog received the award for the most innovative product. In total, 20 products from various companies and startups were nominated for the award. What does this award mean for you personally and for your company?

Of course, my team and I are very pleased that the Smartfrog home monitoring solution received the award for the most innovative product already prior to the opening of the IFA, in particular because the prize based on the vote of the attending journalists. This shows us that we are on the right track with our aim to make the daily lives of many people simpler, more efficient and more secure.

Here are some facts: Increase in sales of 880 percent within one year, users in 161 countries, 85 members of staff from 23 countries – how do you account for this success?

First of all, we are of course very pleased about the positive corporate development of the last 22 months since the launch of our product. Furthermore, we are delighted about the confidence and trust that users worldwide, business partners and investors have placed in the company.

Smartfrog is one of the few, if not the only IoT startup worldwide that offers end-to-end value chain control. This enables us to develop tailor-made solutions for various markets that are useful, simple, affordable and secure. At first glance, it may appear easy to make everyday objects smart, simply by connecting them with an app and a cloud service. In fact, the development of an internationally successful company requires a well-coordinated cooperation of many different experts. IoT is more than just technology. On the one hand, you need a scalable cloud and streaming technology, and on the other hand multi-platform software, a specially designed hardware as well as embedded software, connecting the hardware with the rest. 

Where do you see Smartfrog in one year? And what are your objectives for the next five years?

The IoT market has just entered the growth phase. We want to further expand our position as a leading European technology company and to continue to provide new products and solutions in the future. As with computers, mobile communication and the internet, also the Internet of Things will take a while to become day-to-day reality for the people. We believe, however, that in ten years from now almost every home will have a security camera installed and that the IoT will be as natural as the internet itself is today. We would like to play an active part in helping shape and promote this development.

The seat of your company in Germany and Austria is in Berlin. What are the advantages of this location?

Berlin is a very exciting city for the startup scene. Especially in the field of technology and digitalization, there are plenty of new developments going on. Berlin is also the place where founders, investors, international talents and creative people meet, thus creating an inspiring atmosphere in the city. Last, but not least, Berlin is extremely fascinating and attracts both talented young professionals and experienced specialists. As a continuously growing company, we need both groups, as it is precisely this mixture of “old hands” and young staff members that makes Smartfrog so special.

Last, but not least, can you finish the following sentence: “Berlin is… “

… a great city setting trends for the whole of Europe and furthermore an ideal place for visionaries. 



Tanja Mühlhans

Leitung Kreativ- und Medienwirtschaft, Digitalwirtschaft, Projekt Zukunft