I work with SONA, an award-winning luxury home technology company, to source media exposure and assist with content creation. Managing Director Nicola Fulstow tells us more.
Here’s your elevator pitch: describe SONA to me and tell me why others should work with you!
SONA work with people developing luxury residential properties to ensure that when they move in, they are equipped with a technology system that helps to relax, re-connect and re-energise when they spend time at home. We do this through integrated smart home technology systems that comprise TV, audio, home cinema, lighting, network, security and cable infrastructure, which helps to ensure that the home-owner can update their technology much more easily as technology advances. Why should people work with us? I believe we provide some of the best, award-winning systems in the world, however more than anything, we really look after our customers – they are at the heart of what we do. Our customers are what drive us, not technology. The way we treat our customers is the reason why we’re in regular communication with clients for years to come – we just become one of their team.
How long have you been in your line of work? How did you discover your passion?
Ironically, I have no background in home technology whatsoever! It’s my husband Simon who is the expert and he has been in the industry working on luxury residential and marine work for over 20 years. He founded the company in 2012 but I took over as Managing Director as I’m a natural organiser and big vision thinker, so I’m good at leading the team and creating focus and direction for the company. Whilst I’ve worked in the business since its inception, I concentrate on the customer experience rather than the technology.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your industry today?
The biggest challenge facing our industry is two-fold:
Firstly, when building houses, people still very much see technology as a ‘bolt-on’ option like it was 20 years ago. Therefore, they only really think about it late in the game OR don’t see the value in it. People forget that the advancements in technology over the last 20 years have completely changed the way we live – 20 years ago mobile phones were only just emerging, a selfie didn’t exist, and Facebook was just an idea in Zuckerberg’s mind. There was no streaming on Netflix, and a wireless speaker wasn’t heard of. These days it’s rare that people find a minute in their day when they’re NOT using technology. If this element in the home is unreliable and not very well thought out, using technology at home becomes really frustrating – think buffering, delays, or technology that you need a degree to use. There’s nothing worse than technology that doesn’t work!
Secondly, because of the above attitude, some people (not all) don’t see the value, and whilst they’re happy to spend £160,000 upwards on a kitchen design, they don’t want to invest in the necessary technology that befits a home of this scale. Due to certain products and advancements in technology, our industry is now flooded with inexperienced people setting up ‘home technology’ companies because with some products, you can simply attend a three or four-day course and set up the next day as an ‘expert’, winning work by simply quoting the lowest price possible. They are not doing a good job in the main!
We tend to find that end clients who haven’t realised the value of technology initially select these cheaper companies, and then end up with a completely useless system (and they’re still short, thousands and thousands). All in all, this is making end consumers even MORE wary of home technology, and unless they experience a company like SONA who then come in to help them get things right, they go on in life thinking that all home technology companies are created equal. There are actually lots of really great companies out there (as well as lots of bad ones!). Our challenge right now is highlighting how vital seamless technology has become in the home and trying to show home-owners that not all home technology companies are created equal. There are good, bad and ugly!
What would you tell your 18-year-old self?
Give everything a go that feels fun, exciting or challenging, however don’t ever feel like you need to stick things out when they feel just plain wrong. You have instincts for a reason. Don’t be afraid to fail or walk away – failing is where you accomplish the most growth. When you’re winning all the time, you aren’t really growing. Also remember that when it comes to jobs, everyone is replaceable – even if they’re good! There’s always someone waiting in the wings to snap up an opportunity that you turned away, so never be complacent.
Three guests are coming for dinner: living or dead. Who do you invite and why?
Oprah – easy choice. I’ve been obsessed with Oprah since my early twenties, when her shows became very meaningful. I just think that she is the epitome of what’s possible.
Simon Cowell – I so admire his ability to just say what he thinks and to have so much confidence in his own opinion.
Mattie Stepanek – a very insightful and fascinating American poet, who was an advocator for peace. He died at the age of 13 from a rare disorder but his wisdom and insight were literally not of this world. An incredible little person with a totally unique point of view that I think we’d probably all learn a lot from. I came across him on an Oprah show (of course) and his presence played on my mind for weeks on end.
What should we be getting excited about for SONA?
We are working on a super showroom in Cheshire to launch (hopefully) in 2019. This will be an experience centre like no other and is going to be home to a number of very cool, top secret luxury events and launches. Watch this space!