How SA’s Olarm helps you control your alarm system from your phone

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Home and business security startup Olarm is providing users with convenient control of their alarm systems via its app.

The Olarm app allows users to remotely view any activity and control their alarm system from their smartphone, as with your traditional key panel, but it also offers more features, including your alarm status such as arming, disarming, and bypassing zones. Users can also add trusted family members, friends or nominated staff to the app. 

Olarm PRO, meanwhile, is a multi-network communicator that enables alarm systems to communicate with monitoring software and the Olarm mobile app. So far, the startup is working with more than 500 security companies in South Africa.

The startup was co-founded by serial entrepreneurs Mark Slingsby and Rob Gilmour, along with technology mavens James Roberson and Robert Henshilwood, in 2015 in Cape Town, with an idea to give customers better control over their alarm systems. 

“The solutions available at the time were impossible to install and did not work very well. One solution only emailed you when the alarm triggered, and it required complicated port forwarding to be set up on your home router. We set out to make the customer experience seamless, awesome and deliver a great product to customers,” Slingsby told Disrupt Africa.

The team combined their expertise in hardware engineering, software development and internet connectivity to launch the first Olarm communicator, which was well received by consumers and security companies alike. The next-generation Olarm PRO, launched at the beginning of 2021, introduced Wi-Fi to the security communicator space, adding a third network in the device to further enhance its resilience to network and power outages.

Ease of use is at the core of Olarm’s design philosophy. 

“We have radically simplified the installation experience for both installer and monitoring company, saving them time-on-site and improving the customer’s experience,” Slingsby said.

While some local security companies offer their own apps, these are not dual networks and are often not very stable. Olarm PRO uses Wi-Fi and dual-SIMs to ensure uptime and availability. 

“Olarm transforms an existing alarm and makes it smart. The benefit is that it is not an expensive alarm system upgrade, rather a simple installation of an add-on device,” said Slingsby.

Funded by Slingsby and Gilmour, Olarm has built a strong customer base, with more than 500 install partners and security companies trusting it to enable several hundred thousand users. The startup is now in the process of expanding internationally, with serious interest expressed in many countries. 

“Olarm has traditionally only offered support for the South Africa market but is now available internationally thanks to our Wi-Fi and international roaming SIM solution. We are currently expanding our distribution network and partnerships to extend beyond our local borders,” said Slingsby. 

“We sell our devices as cost-effectively as possible to bring down the barrier to entry. We spend a lot of engineering effort on keeping electronics production costs optimised. Unfortunately, the silicon shortage has thrown a few curveballs, but our hardware engineering teams have risen to the challenge, and there have been no supply disruptions for customers.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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