Ever been locked out of your house or apartment? If you’re anything like me or Greg Marsh’s wife, you have…often. After several costly and lengthy lockouts, Greg took the problem of getting locked out and created an effective solution – KeyMe. KeyMe is a mobile app that allows you to digitally store your key information for free. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars and spending several hours locked out, customers of KeyMe can pull up the specific key making instructions based on a front and back picture of your key. You can then choose to order key copies or take those instructions to any locksmith or key shop to get your key cut.
During his first startup experience, Greg worked with hardware technology.
Through working with the early-stage company, he learned the ins and outs of the business and gained important contacts, which were key to launching the business from the ground up. From conceiving the initial idea to where he is now, Greg describes it as being “Quite a journey.” With the goal of finding a fast and inexpensive way to solve a lockout, there were countless ideas to solve the problem before the end solution was constructed.
KeyMe’s offerings include many effective and unique solutions to serve a variety of customers from lockout victims to consumers who simply want an easy and inexpensive way to get a copy of a key. KeyMe’s products and services allow for users to obtain a key copy through a kiosk without needing a copy of the key, store digital copies of keys, share keys with family or friends, an emergency key delivery service (currently available in Manhattan), and 3D key printing. By utilizing technology already on the market (apps and camera phones), KeyMe was able to take advantage of the market quickly. Although both sides of the company, kiosk and mobile app, make for a well-rounded business, the difficulty behind trying to launch two platforms with a small team was extremely high.
While trying to build both aspects of the business, Greg was aware that the biggest mistake most startups make is trying to do too much and not doing any one thing well. “(We) would ask – if a team of the same size was next door and working on just one of the parts of (our) business, would they be in a better position?” The KeyMe team worked on the core aspects of the business and deferred several upgrades and add-ons to their services until establishing their key product.
My first reaction to an app that stores key information was, why wouldn’t someone just steal a copy of my key? Security is a key component of KeyMe’s business and not something that Greg takes lightly. “We are intentionally keeping as little information as possible,” said Greg. Names and addresses are not stored, making it impossible to link a person or location to the image of a key. KeyMe has also taken steps against ‘fly-by’ pictures, as the user has to take detailed front and back images of the key in order to obtain the information to make a copy. “We don’t know where you live and we don’t want to know.”
Greg Marsh and KeyMe is a great example of a startup that was born out of a real problem and found a compelling and unique way to solve it. Although the door may have stayed locked for Greg’s wife, another larger door opened for Greg, and he took advantage of it.
Don’t settle for the summary and highlights, listen to the full interview with Greg Marsh below!
- The importance of pitching: “Being able to pitch well was sort of the biggest “secret sauce” to be able to close that first round (of funding).”
- 2 keys of success: #1. Your team (without question). The biggest driver of success is the people working there. #2. The space. “Solving lockouts doesn’t sound like the sexiest problem, but we think we are doing something really innovative.” They have found a way to help millions of people very quickly.
- Greg’s thoughts on the key market and if a pivot will be inevitable due to a shift in electronic keys/access.
- Greg shares the key to their ability to attract outside investment.
- Best piece of advice for young entrepreneurs under the age of 30: “Surround yourself with people you enjoy working with, who challenge you, and who are crazy smart. Any time you are passionate and surrounded by the right people, things will click. Having a great network and having strong relationships with those kinds of people is one of the most powerful things you can do as an entrepreneur.”
What do you do in your free time to relax? My wife is very kind and allows me to work very long hours. When I am not working I am usually hanging out with her.
What’s your favorite place to vacation? Big Sur – Stretch of coastline in California.
If you had to start another business in a completely different industry, what would it be and why? I like to make consumers happy, something a large amount of people find exciting and useful.
If you could add one entrepreneur in the world to your team at KeyMe, who would it be and why? Josh Carter. He’s not super well-known but is an extremely smart guy, great manager, and has strong vision. He can bring energy and a strong game plan to make a company successful.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “Always do more than what was asked of you. If you go above and beyond…I think good things will always come of that.”