Co-founder of KISI: Unlock doors with your smartphone using KISI products
KISI, a lock/key smartphone app, is leading us to a real key-free world. Once users log into KISI app and swipe on their smartphones against the reader next to the door developed by the company, they have unlocked it without physical keys. Users can also decide who can have regular access to doors at specific times.
Maximilian Schuetz, co-founder of KISI Inc., talked about development and marketing of KISI products and shared his experience as a business owner of a startup company. According to the solution section of KISI’s website, their product has saved 78 minutes per key every year. The monthly subscription fees range from $39 to $249 depending on the sizes of places that users have.
Q: KISI can open a door with just a swipe of a smartphone screen, and then a sensor is able to detect it. How does the device detect the swipe?
A: It’s sent through our server, and the identification is in the Cloud. If the Cloud identifies the user, it sends a signal to the gateway, and the gateway opens the door. Actually, it’s a long way but it’s set up pretty fast, like in a few seconds.
Q: When did you come up with the idea of keys on smartphones?
A: Two and a half years ago, and we started developing the app two years ago.
Q: Have you encountered andy challenges while developing the Kisi app?
A: The hardware (the reader) is always slower than the software. Hardware has to be installed physically at the location. When it comes to how to get into the building, there is challenge. It’s like a hybrid model. You have both hardware (the reader) and software (the KISI app). Software is the main product. It is definitely a logistical challenge getting into the buildings and connecting to the door systems, but this can be solved.
Q: Any other challenge you have faced as a startup?
A: Everything is a challenge. You always run into problems and you have to solve them. It’s not a repetitive work. There is always new stuff. You have to get into the subject, judge what is the best solution and make decision. Then, new questions come. I guess when you start your own business you have surprises every day. Sometimes it’s in a good way, but most times in a very challenging, problematic way.
Q: Do you have any targeted users like companies, families, or someone else?
A: We do offices and buildings such as elevators, front doors and side doors. We do residential buildings, but mainly for complexes where a lot of people get in and out. We don’t do apartment doors — we mainly focus on private and public companies.
Q: What kind of response have you got from your customers?
A: Good response from everywhere we install our system. We are constantly adding features to our products, doing seminars and improving access management.
Q: Are you marketing your product mainly in New York, or beyond?
A: Actually, we have clients all over: New York, East Coast, West Coast, somewhere else in Australia and Europe. Closest is probably 45 Main St., which is like two blocks away [from the Brooklyn office]. I think marketing in the US, especially New York and the East Coast, is challenging enough. We are looking into places like big cities where most big companies are located, but they don’t have to be big cities. There are also office complexes in suburbs where we can install our products.
Q: How else are you developing the app and your business?
A: We’re adding features to the app and growing our customer base. These are our main goals right now. Every week we add new features. We’ve added a feature that unlocks you. If you open the app, you just tap the phone against a reader, and the door opens.
Q: What advice would you give to other founders?
A: If you have patience, endurance and passion for your company, it’s gonna be successful. And don’t forget to have some fun at the same time.
Q: Any other experiences or comments that you want to share?
A: Surviving is a big thing for a startup company. We always develop our products very close to our clients. We go to our clients like, “Hey, what do you actually want? Let me develop the feature that you like.” We work very closely with our customers.