This is the third in a series of interviews I am doing with new and innovative companies in and around the Smart Lock, Security and Access Control industry. It's time they have a voice and we meet them. If there are any companies you'd like to see highlighted in the future, let me know. I plan to do this regularly. I am open to your feedback and appreciate the heads up. Thank you!
I've had the pleasure of getting to know Nexkey's CEO, Eric Trabold, over the past year and excited to have the opportunity to share his and his company's story with you. If you have the opportunity to speak with him, you will find he has a fascinating background (eg. prior company was in Virtual-, Augmented- and Mixed Reality), an entrepreneurial spirit and know-how that gives you the confidence that no matter what he is doing - "it" will happen, and an humbleness that is extremely welcoming, especially nowadays. Eric aside, I think you will also uncover a company that is making a dent in a couple underserved markets - the ecylinder/access control and SMB market. I am grateful he spent some time with me last week and below you'll find his answers to the 5 questions we always ask for Hello. Enjoy!
As always, please let me know in the comments what you think.
1. Tell us a little bit about your business.
At Nexkey we’re changing the way how people experience access to physical spaces. We make end users life easier by allowing them to use their smartphone to open doors (instead of physical keys, keycards or fobs) and simplify work for office managers and administrators by letting them manage access to their business through the cloud. Nexkey is doing this in a very unique way through a combination of soft- and hardware that can really turn any type of door smart. We have two very unique products the Nexkey Core which is an ecylinder that can turn any mechanical look into a smartlock and the Nexkey Controller which easily brings any electronic door hardware into the Nexkey eco-system. Both product can be deployed in a few minutes instead of hours or days, compared to legacy access control platforms.
2. What got you into the access control business?
The Nexkey hardware and software team was working on the platform for about 2 years prior to me joining. When I met the team I was wow’d by what they had built with the very limited resources they had. They got the platform to a point where it was close to being brought to customers but lacked the experience to drive a go-to-market.
Prior to Nexkey I was running sales, business development and marketing for a consumer hardware startup in the VR/AR space after spending some time in security software, doing the same thing. Nexkey, and so the Access Control space, felt to me a little bit like giving me the chance of marrying my past experience, go-to-market in consumer hardware and security software. What specifically excited me about the space was that it is one of those very rare things we all do every day: Accessing spaces. Changing how we do that, making the experience better, was a challenge that got me really excited. You rarely get an opportunity like this, finding a great tech team and working on something that touches all of us, daily. You need to grab such an opportunity and that’s what I did.
3. What markets and verticals do you serve?
We consciously decided to initially target small and medium sized businesses (SMB). Based on our market research there are over 5M SMBs in the united states and it’s a market that is totally underserved in regard to access control. When we started talking to potential customers in the space, over a year ago, they said they would love to have electronic access control but got put off by the high costs, bad management and cumbersome end user experience of current platforms. When we showed them Nexkey we got feedback like “We had been looking for something like this for years and thought it doesn’t exist until we came to know about you.” We knew that we were onto something at this point.
4. What is one thing that you were surprised to find out about the access control industry?
Two things surprised me when getting into the industry (and frankly still do): a) The fact how the industry is not transparent with pricing and makes it difficult for business to buy. It’s nearly impossible to find pricing online. Walkthroughs are mostly required after which a customer has to wait days, sometimes weeks, to receive a quote. I strongly believe that his needs to change. Nexkey is already changing this and we believe that gives us an edge. b) The strong attachment to credentials and sales thereof. Sure, I get that it is a revenue driver but in my personal opinion you will drive the most growth and revenue if you do the right thing for a customer. Some industry giants come even up with very odd ideas like “Digital keys” that are still keys telling their customers that they have advantages over keycards which they obviously do not. We surveyed 1,000 office managers about a year back and 68% said they don’t like keys or keycards. So why pushing it onto end customers and not allowing them to use a device that they carry with them every day anyway: their smartphone? You can still charge something for a “cloud based service” which allows you to enable RMR which in my eyes is more valuable than selling a one off physical credential.
5. Where do you see your business in 5 years?
I often envision how a keyless future could look like, it’s a future in which my phone is my identity and my key to anything. I actually can already experience this here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I go to our office and use my Nexkey App, in the office I open a file cabinet that unlocks because of my Nexkey App, I drive to a co-working space a few miles away (which is a customer) where I have a meeting and open the doors with the Nexkey App, go to a gym (another customer) at the end of the day and use the door with a Nexkey App.
It’s a frictionless, nearly magical, experience.
Nexkey is uniquely positioned to fulfil this vision as we are the only player having the hardware that works with any type of door and the software platform to accompany that. I see us leading the pack in the smarter access control industry in 5 years from now not only serving the SMB market but a broad spectrum of business in all different sizes and verticals. You won’t ask folks for a pin code, keycard or key anymore you will ask them to get you a Nexkey.