There is no question that the right business model can make the difference between a good idea that doesn't make it and one that does, and though the jury is still out on the long-term fortunes of Mistbox, a change to the business model and a relaunch on Kickstarter has resulted in a much brighter future.
Just two years ago we wrote about the then new Mistbox, a device that can be retrofitted to most air conditioners and uses evaporative cooling to lower the temperature of the air entering an air conditioner, cutting energy consumption by around 30 percent.
At that time, the Mistbox was powered by a 96 x 54 mm (3.7 x 2.1-in) solar panel and retailed for US$449 before the 30 percent United States Federal Green Tax Credit reduced the net price to $315. The solar panel was there to ensure the device was self-powered for ease of installation.
Mistbox has since been reimagined ever so slightly, with power now provided by a turbine that harvests energy from the exhaust gases of the air conditioner to power itself, while an inbuilt water treatment system has been added to ensure that the mist does not damage the air conditioner.
The biggest difference in the new offering is the pricing model. Until August 14, 2017, users can get a Mistbox for an annual $100 fee (or $10 a month) with no up-front costs on Kickstarter. After August 14, there will be an additional $39 activation fee.
The annual fee includes everything you need, including the Mistbox, four Mistbars, the energy-harvesting turbine, an unlimited number of water treatment filters, the cost of the cellular connection to the Mistbox (which enables the company to monitor the device and ship filters in advance of them being needed), and a lifetime warranty.
Tthe company has attempted to remove every potential buyer objection by offering free cancellation if you're not happy with the unit for whatever reason. As with the previous version of the Mistbox, there's an app (Android or iPhone) for monitoring the health of the unit.
Mistbox has surpassed its crowdfunding goal more than 10 times over, and deliveries are slated for August if all goes to plan. The offer is restricted to residents of the United States and Canada initially, though given the number of air conditioners in the world, there is obvious scope for international distributors to enter the picture.