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Challenge finalist: Igloohome (Australia/Singapore)

What is a smart home? For most people, it's a system for controlling home appliances remotely and saving on energy bills. Igloohome's idea of what a smart home can be goes further.

     Before launching the startup, Anthony Chow, founder and CEO, was a full-time data scientist and a part-time Airbnb host. "I had to hand over the keys when [guests] arrived, but they usually arrive at random times," he said. Realizing millions of other short-term rental hosts likely faced the same problem, he decided to build a solution.

     In addition to controlling smart appliances, Igloohome's system can also connect with various booking systems, including Airbnb. The system automatically handles reservations and assigns access codes for smart locks, meaning hosts no longer have to be present to hand over a key in person.

     The company was launched last year as a part of Airbnb's personalized toolkit and backed by Singtel Innov8, Wavemaker and Mesh VC. It is operating in Singapore, Australia, China and Thailand. "We are also building a partnership with a Japanese client," it said.

CEO: Anthony Chow

Twenty-four finalists will be chosen for Pioneers Asia Challenge, the main competition for advanced-stage startups. The Nikkei Asian Review will feature three finalists each week; this is the fifth week of the series and the first to feature entries from Asia. The two other categories of competition -- Pioneers 90 Seconds Pitch and Pioneers Showroom -- are for seed and earlier-stage startups.

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