Scout Alarm Review
A brand new company that represents a brand new business model in the security industry, Scout was founded in 2013 by two savvy young Chicago venture capitalists who raised over $400,000 with crowdfunding. Scout makes up their own rules, allowing clients anywhere in America to not only design and install their own system, but monitor it as well – and all without a contract or general equipment packages.
Scout is designed with young professionals and college students in mind, and they know their demographic. The whole industry is watching to see how high this business model flies.
Price: $9.99 month
Installation/setup costs: Nothing, but customer buys equipment at front end
Scout’s crowdfunding capitalization scheme netted more than double what they’d hoped for, which allowed the infant company to stock up on solid gear from the best manufacturers. Most of their network is made by GE. For a budget security company, Scout does not cut corners on equipment quality, although they leave a lot to be desired in terms of variety. They don’t offer a lot of choices, but everything they carry is good gear.
Scout does a lot of things differently than most competitirs. Unlike companies that draw you in with a modest but substantive basic level equipment package, Scout doesn’t even offer an equipment package. They just charge you a fixed, low monthly fee for monitoring services, and you buy whatever equipment you like to build your own system.
The central control hub and door panel are the only essential pieces of hardware, and they run around $200. Once you’ve installed them, you can add sensors and detectors to fit your budget. Cameras are expected to be on the menu sometime in 2017.
Current equipment choices include:
- Wireless control hub (mandatory)
- Door panel (mandatory)
- Door/window access sensors (optional)
- Motion sensors (optional)
With such a bare bones inventory of equipment choices, there isn’t a lot to automate – but Scout’s mobile app allows you complete monitoring and full control of everything that can be remotely operated. Their proprietary app is simple and user-friendly, but also allows for upgraded functions as Scout adds more equipment and monitoring options.
Give Scout credit for making the most of what they have, too – they make up for lack of equipment choices with some very innovative automation options.
Automation features presently include:
- Live and recorded monitoring of all sensor activity
- Live monitoring of system status or individual components
- Program system to send customized event alerts
- Have event alerts forwarded to 3rd party if you won't be available
- Remote arm and disarm
- False alarm intervention - allows you to verify alarm and decide whether to alert authorities
Scout Alarm doesn’t have a very lengthy history, but the history they do have is completely unique in the security industry.
Scout was founded in Chicago in 2013, by two young venture capitalists named Dan Roberts and Dave Shapiro. Roberts was shopping for alarm systems for a new house he was buying, but was reluctant to commit to any because of the long contracts that are common in the industry. Like many young professionals, he was accustomed to moving every couple of years for his career.
He realized that there was room in the market for a security company that made it easy for millenials like himself to relocate and take their alarm system with them, and decided that he would create his own. He partnered up with co-worker Dave Shapiro, and together they put together a crowdfunding plan to capitalize their business plan.
The crowdfunding scheme targeted $197,000, but was so successful they didn’t stop taking pre-orders until they hit $415,000. Scout went live on the market in summer of 2014, and while they haven’t released detailed sales figures, co-founders Shapiro and Roberts say they have been consistently ahead of projections. If their brief history is any indicator of future performance, Scout customers can expect a steady stream of innovative ideas and features in the months and years to come.
- Completely customized systems
- DIY installation
- Completely self-monitored
- No contact, no upfront fees
- Low monthly costs
- Unconditional 30-day money-back hardware guarantee, no termination fees
- 3G wireless connectivity and battery backup means no service interruptions
- System and monitoring service are transportable anywhere in the U.S. and Canada
In an industry known for copycats, Scout threw the playbook out and wrote a new one from scratch. Even the good ideas that they did take onboard from other companies, Scout adapted to their business model and corporate personality. They don’t appear to have gotten much wrong, if anything.
The a la carte approach to assembling an equipment package is not new, but nobody in the business has ever made it work as lean and clean as Scout does. With Scout, a la carte really means a la carte. Unlike any other company, Scout doesn’t even have a basic equipment package – you buy the control hub and door panel that form the foundation of the system, and then you add whatever else you think you need. Scout targets millenial who are comfortable with technology, and lets them pick their own gear.
Customers who are capable of selecting their own equipment don’t need any help installing it, either, so Scout leaves that to the clients as well. And, any customer who can design and install their own alarm system probably doesn’t need any help monitoring it – so Scout leaves that to the customer as well, through your phone, computer, or other device. Scout is a completely do-it-yourself alarm company. They sell you the equipment, the app, and the connectivity, and it’s all yours from there. Young, tech-savvy clients appreciate that autonomy.
With the customer owning all of the equipment and doing all of the monitoring, Scout can afford to sell their network and app at a bargain price. $9.99 gets you full monitoring, and with no contract and no installation fees, there are no up-front costs either. You pay $9.99 to start, and $9.99 a month from that point on. If you decide to end your service, there’s no cancellation fee or contract to buy out, and if you do it in the first 30 days, they’ll refund your equipment costs.
Scout can afford to make it easy for you to leave because they make it so easy for you to stay. Their service area is anywhere in the United States or Canada that has 3G wireless coverage, and you can pack the system up and relocate it anytime you need to move – another appealing option for the millennial customer, whether they be homeowners or renters.
- Limited equipment options
- Cost of equipment adds up fast
- Short track record and limited company history
Quite frankly, there’s not a lot of bad to say about Scout. One of the downsides of Scout’s minimalist business model is that there are very few of the equipment choices customers may be accustomed to with other companies, but as the business grows they will be offering more options. And paying for each piece if hardware on an individual basis helps keep monthly fees down, but it can add up to a hefty investment as you assemble your system.
Having only been in business for two years, Scout has a lot of room to grow. As they do, more equipment choices will become available, and the price of that gear will go down. But for now, some clients may find that they’re not getting as much equipment for their dollar as they would like.
The Bottom Line
Scout is late to the party, but here to stay. Customers should carefully consider whether the dollars and cents make as much sense as they seem to at first glance, but Scout has done a masterful job of dialing in their target market. If you want a minimal but solid and functional system at a bargain price, Scout should be one of your first calls.