The keys to your house belong to startups

The keys to your house belong to startups
From TechCrunch - October 14, 2017

Silicon Valley may be the techiest place on earth, but even here, the way people open the front door hasnt changed much in a century. Most of us still get in by turning a flat metal key in a lock. Visitors ring doorbells, and we peep at them through peepholes. If were out, keyless guests are out of luck.

If investors have their way, that status quo will look quite primitive in a few years. So far this year, venture investors have poured more than $200 million into an assortment of companies with businesses and technologies tied to keys, locks and building access. To date, those companies have more than $500 million, according to an analysis of Crunchbase funding data.

Several startups have business models tied to traditional keys, including offering tools to more easily copy and keep track of them. Most of the funding, however, has gone to companies offering digital alternatives to metal keys, including systems that tie in smartphone apps to monitor and control who gets through the door.

Locks are anachronistic and inconvenient in todays digital age, Jason Johnson, CEO ofAugust Home, a developer of smartphone-enabled keyless entry systems, told Crunchbase News. People shouldnt have to carry their keys with them all the time when they are only used one to two times a day.

Moreover, Johnson says, virtual keys give users more control. They get more information about who accesses their home and when. Users can also revoke virtual keys instantly, eliminating some of the worries that come with sharing physical keys.

Why now for keyless entry?

Timing of investments seems tied to projections for consumer adoption more than major technological breakthroughs. Card access systems for buildings and keyless entry for cars, after all, have been around for decades. Smartphone apps for security monitoring are also nothing new. While funded startups are developing proprietary technologies, market timing is motivating backers to put money into scaling operations now.

The biggest round this year went toRing,a developer of connected doorbells and security systems that closed a$109 million Series Dfinancing in January.Augustclosed a$25 million funding roundin July, and KeyMe, which lets people make copies of physical keys using a digital image, closed on $25 million in September. (See a full list of funded startupshere.)

Pitches about the virtues of virtual keys hold particular appeal in the e-commerce age. Deliveries become much more convenient when one doesnt have to wait at home to open the door or worry about leaving stuff outside. The ability to allow limited or one-time access, along with an electronic record of entry, also offers some measure of security.

Traditional meets technical


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