Hello: Tapkey

April 20, 2020

This is the twelfth 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 recently had the chance to connect with Gregor Zehetner COO & Co-Founder at Tapkey GmbH. Based out of Vienna, Austria, they are an OEM that has created an open platform for mobile access control. After spending time at UniKey where we were (too) early bringing this model to market, I am always interested in talking to companies that work in this capacity. What I found interesting about Gregor and the team at Tapkey was their depth of knowledge and understanding about how to engage and work with their customers that value outsourcing the expertise vs doing everything internally. I got the sense and saw examples of how they make it very easy for their customers. I believe this model is important as most organizations, especially ones that are at scale, have a hard time balancing iteration with innovation. This is a great way to accelerate your innovation.

Enjoy getting to know Tapkey!

1. Tell us a little about your business.

Tapkey is an Austrian technology startup offering an open and secure platform for mobile access control. Our patented technology stack enables instant and reliable access to doors, cars, boxes and much more. Various partners from the coworking, property management, car sharing or delivery industry, leverage our proven technology to create unique access-control solutions for their customers. Tapkey offers different integration options for hardware manufacturers and systems integrators to seamlessly integrate mobile access into their locking devices and solutions. Integrators are provided with our SDK and API, all publicly documented on our developer portal at https://developers.tapkey.io. End customers benefit from a wide range of Tapkey-compatible electronic locks, ranging from digital cylinders to wall readers, padlocks, furniture locks, car sharing boxes and more.

2. What got you into the smart lock / access control business?

Actually, it all happened out of a personal need. A couple of years ago we had a practical problem of managing office access for steadily changing project teams of up to 40 people. Key handover and repeated loss of keys was a real hassle and we wanted to get rid of those problems. [Un]Fortunately there were no convincing products available at that time, so we started creating a prototype from scratch. And no need to say: everything had to be easily manageable out of the pocket—via mobile phone. That was the starting point for initially building a game-changing mobile app for access management. And now, more than 8 years later, Tapkey transformed into a platform offering with “best in class” integration capabilities.

3. What markets and verticals do you serve?

As a platform provider for cloud-based mobile access control, Tapkey connects the worlds of three groups of partners:

1. Hardware manufacturers wanting to upgrade their product line with smartphone-based access functionality.

2. Vertical industry solution providers in various B2B markets wanting to integrate digital access hardware and key management software components into their own apps or services.

3. Service providers requiring physical access to buildings, cars or lockers to fulfill their services.

Shared workspaces, multi-residential buildings or holiday apartments are good examples where operators can significantly reap from cost savings through smartphone-based ad-hoc key sharing while providing better service to their members. Other “low hanging fruit” markets include car sharing, self storage, or service providers like unattended delivery or facility management services. As the world becomes increasingly connected, digitalisation is a key differentiator that will enable companies to remain competitive.

4. What is one thing that you were surprised to find out about the security/lock/access control industry?

Well, there is a lot to learn about the access control industry every day. Even though a lot of marketing for “mobile access solutions” is already being done, it seems that quite a couple of well-established companies in the security industry still completely rely on legacy business and at the same time miss to properly invest in transforming into competitive digital businesses.

Few focussed companies already do a great job today by properly lining up for this new digital world, they build digital competences throughout the whole value delivery chain - from strategic management to product development, marketing and sales. These players will not only gain market shares in established markets with their next generation of products and their ability to execute, even more they will be the leaders in a range of completely new markets around mobile access, such as providers of apps that want to seamlessly integrate mobile access into their own solutions.

In the last three years we already saw quite a couple of interesting yet logical investments and M&A deals in the mobile access industry. It is not a surprising strategy that the “established super tanker” companies join forces with agile “digital speed boat” companies to secure their future business.

5. Where do you see your business in 5 years?

In 5 years from now Tapkey technology will make daily life as well as business life more convenient and more secure for a significant number of people in all 5 continents.

Device manufacturing partners will massively benefit from cross-selling effects of an open platform. Just imagine a shared office space will not only manage access to buildings, it will also upsell supplementary services like rentable lockers or even mobility services like a pool car or scooters, all managed and accessible via one platform.

Even more, Tapkey will also provide comprehensive data-driven services to manufacturers to let them analyse and understand behaviour of their widely distributed installed base in depth. An essential information for building leading-edge devices.

Diverse service partners like facility management companies, delivery organizations or home care institutions will offer more competitive added-value services to end customers by leveraging the ability to instantly access buildings, cars and more.

New business models according to the scheme “instantly pay and access” will be broadly rolled out, e.g. sleep pods on neuralgic spots—all perfectly enabled by adhocly issued mobile keys.

Lee Odess

I've worked as an Entrepreneur and an Integrator (founded E+L+C), for a multinational billion dollar manufacturer in the lock and access control industry (Allegion), as an Executive of a start-up who pioneered the IoT/smart lock/smart physical access control industry (UniKey), and as an Executive with the first cloud based physical access control manufacturer (Brivo). I put all those years together to form a Growth Studio focused on business creation in the CRETech, proptech and smart home markets for small to large companies in the security, access control and IoT industry.

Labeled as an uber-networker by the Washington Post, Lee Odess has over 18 years starting, building and leading businesses with an exceptional track record for sales growth and marketing effectiveness.

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