What excites you the most regarding the future of SmashToast?


What excites you the most regarding the future of SmashToast?

Barnabas Helmy, CEO of SmashToast: “After three years. When I first started this company, I was told that “smart home” and “IoT” were the buzzwords, believe it or not. And I was told you wanna try and “ride the wave”. And I was like, I am. This is happening. This is going to be a big thing.”

Read the rest of Mr. Helmy’s interview with Retail Bound on SmashToast and its flagship product, PUCK, by clicking here: Hardware to Retail: Interview with SmashToast


Do you know the story of how PUCK was invented? Hear it from SmashToast’s very own CEO and Founder, Barnabas Helmy:
“Well, I was sitting on the sofa watching TV with my two year old daughter and she was chewing on the Apple TV remote. When I went to change the channel, it no longer worked. This was the 2nd remote that she had chewed on and destroyed.”
This incident was only a few short years ago. That is when Mr. Helmy retreated to his basement workshop where he tinkered, experimented and then, eventually he came up with the idea for the PUCK – now being sold all over the world!

PUCK – The Affordable Smart Home


PUCK – The Affordable Smart Home

With PUCK, you too can enjoy the smart home experience without spending thousands of dollars to automate. We’ve made the smart home affordable, easy, and fun! Expand your digital footprint while simplifying your life and tossing your remotes. Get yours today at PUCK!


SmashToast: The End of Remotes


SmashToast: The End of Remotes

Remote controls are one of the modern inventions of our time that have gotten more and more unwieldy as the years go by. They’re easy to break or misplace, and often times have convoluted controls. PUCK is a new invention by the software developer SmashToast, that seeks to put an end to remotes by utilizing mobile technology.

“How it works is you stick to the PUCK to a receiver in your home, like your television,” explained Barnabas Helmy, the CEO and co-founder of SmashToast. “You then connect it to your phone using Bluetooth, and you have all the options of a remote on your phone.” The product presents the option to bookmark channels, as well as control multiple devices from just your phone. “It works for anything that you can control with an infra-red remote.”

Save time and frustration with PUCK


Save time and frustration with PUCK

Save your loved ones time and frustration by helping them -PUCK it – and toss the remote in 3 easy steps.

1 ) Attach PUCK on or near a device that uses an Infrared remote!

2) Download and pair with the free PUCK Remote App for iOS and Android!

3) Toss your remotes!


Barnabas Helmy – “Innovator of the Year” at the UIS * iSPI * SIU Illinois Capital Innovation Awards


Barnabas Helmy – “Innovator of the Year” at the UIS * iSPI * SIU Illinois Capital Innovation Awards

We are proud to announce that SmashToast CEO, Barnabas Helmy of Springfield, and creator of The PUCK, was honored with an “Innovator of the Year” award at the UIS * iSPI * SIU Illinois Capital Innovation Awards. Congratulations, Barnabas!

PUCK knows how to control more than 220,000 other devices


PUCK knows how to control more than 220,000 other devices

PUCK knows how to control more than 220,000 other devices, and it can learn new infrared codes for devices it hasn’t already met. One PUCK can control multiple devices, allowing users to “toss those remotes.” Get yours today by visiting www.getpuck.com! 


SmashToast’s PUCK works with a variety of devices including a television, space heater and Apple TV.

PUCK is different from our competitors because it is a wireless solution to connect traditional infrared-remote controlled devices to the smartphone.

We focused on simplicity over confusing features, and our modest price point gives our customers a low-cost solution to enter into the smart home revolution! www.getpuck.com

Microsoft pledges $5B Internet of Things investment over 4 years


Microsoft pledges $5B Internet of Things investment over 4 years

Microsoft said Wednesday it plans to invest $5 billion in the complicated-but-exciting world of Internet of Things over the next four years.

In a blog post, Corporate Vice President of Azure Julia White didn’t go into detail about how the $5 billion will be spent or the kinds of products that could come out of it. She wrote that Microsoft’s IoT platform today spans its cloud, OS and devices areas, and this investment will allow businesses of all sizes and levels of technical expertise to build connected devices and programs.

“Our goal is to give every customer the ability to transform their businesses, and the world at large, with connected solutions,” White writes.

The idea of the Internet of Things has been around for years, but advances in cloud computing have helped make the technology more of a reality. Microsoft has embedded its technology into several Internet of Things devices in recent years, most recently a smart thermostat from Johnson Controls powered by the digital assistant Cortana.


A tale of pluck – Barnabas Helmy’s electronic Puck


A tale of pluck – Barnabas Helmy’s electronic Puck


Like many inventions, Barnabas Helmy’s PUCK began with a problem.

Helmy’s daughter, two years old at the time, ruined the remote control for their home’s Apple TV by chewing on it.

“They’re expensive, and it’s not even that functional of a remote,” Helmy said, sharing a story he has told dozens of times over the past three years.

Helmy recalls that when the bedroom TV remote broke, too, he decided to come up with his own solution. The result is PUCK, a small device which allows smartphone control of any TV, speaker or other machine which accepts an infrared signal. PUCK connects to a user’s smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy technology, using an Android or iPhone app to translate commands into infrared messages other devices can understand.

So far, PUCK knows how to control more than 220,000 other devices, and it can learn new infrared codes for devices it hasn’t already met. One PUCK can control multiple devices, allowing users to, as Helmy is fond of saying, “toss those remotes.”

Rob Patino, a Springfield patent attorney and friend of Helmy, says that when Helmy showed him the concept for PUCK, he knew it could be “disruptive” to the existing marketplace.

“I think that really encouraged him and motivated him to pursue the concept,” Patino said, adding that he believed so strongly in the idea that he’s one of the investors.

Development of PUCK began in 2014, but Helmy’s path to today started much earlier. His interest in electronics began as a young man, when he would tinker with guitar peddles and eventually learn to build his own.

“It was a lot cheaper than buying them,” Helmy said with a laugh. “They’re easy to do once you figure it out.”

Helmy originally studied electrical engineering in college, but he ultimately graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in oil painting. Despite the vast difference between those two fields, Helmy says having an understanding of the relationship between form and function laid the foundation for his current endeavor.

“I’ve found that it has given me kind of an edge on other engineers because I have really strong design principles,” he said.

Helmy built the first PUCK prototype over the course of one month in early 2014. In the three years that followed, he met again and again with engineers and designers to refine the prototype.

Kevin Lust, director of the Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College, says his group met with Helmy several times to help develop a marketable business plan.
“Even at that point, there was still a lot to be done,” Lust said. “To Barnabas’ credit, he’s done it.”

Lust says the “prime directive” for groups like his is to avoid being a gatekeeper. In the case of PUCK, Lust knew Helmy would have to compete in a market filled with products which may not be the same, but which are similar enough to be confusing.

“We try not to pass judgement on ideas,” Lust said, “but we do try to be upfront and frank about the obstacles.”

With business plan in hand, Helmy visited Silicon Valley for a month, pitching PUCK three times a day to venture capitalists. All told, Helmy’s company, Smashtoast, Inc., raised about $500,000 in funding.

“It’s taken this long just to get to market because of the amount of capital it takes to make something on a mass scale,” he said.

In 2015, Smashtoast was awarded a $50,000 Arch Grant from the St. Louis-based Arch Grants Global Startup Competition, providing both capital and free legal and accounting services. Patino

says the Arch Grant was instrumental to Helmy’s success.

“It really gave him a second wind when he needed it the most,” Patino said.

Patino notes that the lag between concept and execution is one of the biggest challenges for a startup.

“Sometimes realities don’t play well with your expectations,” he said.

PUCK is manufactured at CCK Automations, an electronic circuit board maker in Jacksonville. Helmy says one benefit of keeping production local is better protection of his intellectual property.

While overseas manufacturers may offer cheaper production runs, some have been accused of stealing designs to build competing products using the very same factories.

In January, Helmy attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a major yearly industry convention at which electronics companies typically unveil upcoming products.

“We thought we were going to get lost in the fray, because there’s so much amazing stuff out there,” Helmy said. “But it was really validating for us, because everyone was coming to our booth and saying, ‘We can sell this. Everything else is a couple of years away, but this is something that works now.’ It was really exciting, and it really put us on the map.”

The CES trip led to calls from Walmart and several other retailers, and Helmy’s company reached an agreement with Walmart to sell the device in a few test markets.

“From March 27, they wanted it in stores in Miami, Dallas and Chicago – with a new display and new packaging – by Father’s Day,” he said. “From selling single packages online to this was pretty insane, but we did it.”

Helmy hopes to see PUCK sold in Springfield and across the country as early as Black Friday.

If he had to start over, Helmy says Springfield would still be his base of operations. The low cost of living has helped keep development costs low, he says, and the Internet has made it possible to work with developers and engineers anywhere. Helmy hopes that other Springfield-area entrepreneurs are emboldened by his success.

“You just have to take a risk and figure it out,” he said. “Once it’s figured out, hopefully other people will use that same channel.”

Lust says that while Springfield isn’t known as a tech hub – he only half-jokingly adds the qualifier “yet” – Helmy’s success so far serves as proof of what’s possible.

“He’s a terrific example of how you can draw on resources from all over the world, no matter where you are,” Lust said. “There’s absolutely the possibility that things can be done in Springfield.”

Lust says a major factor in Helmy’s progress has been his attitude and adaptability.

“Demeanor plays a big role in a business’ success,” Lust said. “Barnabas’demeanor throughout the whole process has been, ‘Okay, here’s a problem; How do we fix it?’ I know that translates well to investors.”

Patino adds that Springfield as a community could encourage other projects like Helmy’s by supporting “business incubators” like Innovate Springfield and by creating “investment angel” groups.

“I’m really hopeful that will do a lot to help promote and give resources to people who are like-minded,” Patino said. “Money is always a major issue for these startups.”

Looking back on his journey and armed with new knowledge and experiences, Helmy says he could develop another product in a fraction of the time.

In fact, he’s already working on his next big idea.

Copyright All Right Reserved 2018 SmashToast, Inc.