The idea behind UK startup Doordeck is a simple one: why should we use plastic keycards to enter our offices and apartment buildings when we are already carrying smartphones that could do that job perfectly? For users, those keycards inevitably get lost, bringing the hassle of obtaining replacements while still needing access in the interim. For building managers, replacing lost keycards costs time and money and raises security concerns. The Doordeck team, based in London, wants access control to be simpler for everyone involved.
The company’s current solution utilizes the , along with a daughter board of their own design to supplement the Pi’s capabilities. The Raspberry Pi 3 provides “the cheapest form of computing power that you can buy at the moment,” says Doordeck CTO Michael Barnwell, “[and it] does everything that we need and more, so we can have a very rich, powerful system.”
Doordeck feels they have a tremendous opportunity in the access control space, given that so many of the current players are still wedded to the old model of issuing plastic keycards. “And the reason for that is,” says CEO William Bainborough, “they have a huge revenue model that is based on the back of these cards being sold.” But Doordeck knows that their smartphone-based solution needs to be at least as easy for the user as swiping their keycard on a lock, a challenge on which they’re constantly focused, says Barnwell.
The Doordeck solution offers natural advantages to clients who regularly serve a large number of transient guests, for example bookable meeting rooms and shared coworking spaces. These businesses need control over their spaces at all times and want to exercise it even when they are away from their location. In Doordeck’s vision their service could scale effectively even to clients managing large buildings, with different areas requiring various access levels.
So how did Doordeck get involved with the IoT Startupbootcamp in the first place? “We pretty much applied out of the blue,” says Barnwell, “and got invited to the pre-selection days, and from [there] we met a number of interesting people.” After being accepted into the program Doordeck moved into the IDEALondon office where Startupbootcamp is based, and raised their seed round of funding on the back of those opportunities.
Through their Startupbootcamp experience Doordeck were also able to make contacts with tech solutions behemoth Cisco Systems, which was one of the sponsors of the IoT bootcamp event. A Cisco innovation representative was a “mentor” to the Doordeck team during the event, says Barnwell, “and we managed to get in with the right people and pitch product to Cisco directly … with the end result being that [Cisco] solution architects can sell Doordeck as part of a smart building solution.”
element14 has been involved in Doordeck’s development along the way as well, beyond just its sponsorship of the Startupbootcamp IoT event. Doordeck is currently in talks with element14 about building the second version of their product. Says element14’s Hari Kalyanaraman: “We remain deeply committed to supporting innovative hardware start-ups with their product development requirements. Our partnership with Startupbootcamp and collaboration with Doordeck are perfect examples.”
And the element14 Community is also something in which Doordeck believes deeply. Explains Barnwell: “There aren’t enough spaces to have a hardware community online … [so] we’re big fans of the meetup groups in London … and element14 complements that with its online community.”
So what’s on the horizon for Doordeck? They’re excited to be the featured access control solution at Cisco’s innovation centre in Manchester. “We’ve also taken on some very large customers,” says Bainborough, “who have literally thousands of users across multiple buildings with many doors, so we’re learning how to handle those types of [clients].” And in the works is a new version of their hardware, as well as an updated Android app with better performance and an improved user interface.
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