Thursday, 23 May 2013

Money going into Digital Keys

"A market currently worth $26 billion; 25% growth every year", these are the sort of figures being thrown around by experts about the value of the peer-to-peer rental market, or 'the sharing economy'. So where does digital keys come in to the sharing economy? 

How about somewhere in the middle?  

Here is a list of 11 leading websites sharing everything from tools, to cars, to houses, to carparks, to offices, to spaces to meet and learn. 

The sharing economy is all about "booking and access" - i.e making arrangements to get 'something' from a peer, and then getting into that peer's 'something' for a limited time period.

 Booking and access to someone's house to stay a few nights; booking and access to someone's shed to get a tool; booking and access to someone's garage to park a car; booking and access to someone's car to drive that car. 

Digital Keys enables human interaction in this 'booking and access process' to be minimised, streamlined, or removed completely. At the same time Digital Keys improve security, and can seamlessly interface with other online functions such as Paypal/credit card payments.   

In this article we are going to look at 5 companies with digital keys solutions raising significant capital; 2 of these companies are centered in the middle of the sharing economy, Wheelz and One Fine Stay; 2 companies can enable easy entry into the sharing economy for end users; Lockitron and Unikey; and the final company Hyundai, when it releases its digital keys concept in 2015, are poised to disrupt the car rental economy and possibly fuel the car-sharing economy. 

But before we look at the 5 companies, here is the detailed quote from  a recent article in Boston Magazine with the aforementioned "market figures"; 

"Rachel Botsman, the coauthor of What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption(2010), has calculated the value of the peer-to-peer rental market to be $26 billion, and Forbes anticipates that the market will grow 25 percent more in the coming year. Big corporations increasingly want in, so much so that there’s now a VC firm, Collaborative Fund, that’s dedicated to investing in sharing-based startups".

The first company with a digital keys offering, that has had lots of money and attention thrown at it recently is called "Wheelz". Wheelz is a car sharing company. In May 2013, one of Wheelz competitors in San Francisco, Relay Rides, bought Wheelz for the their peer-to-peer car sharing technology - see the Forbes article here 

1. Wheelz - Digital Keys product "Drivebox Technology"

What made Wheelz attractive was its software that allows renters to find, reserve and unlock cars using their smart phones.  An electronic device installed inside each car makes unlocking possible. This method foregoes the need for car owners and renters to meet and exchange keys.

Last year Wheelz raised $13.7 million in an investment led by Zipcar. Details of the recent sale have not been revealed - see here for more information

2. One Fine Stay - Digital Keys product "Sherlock"

One Fine Stay has developed a keyless entry system to make it easier for homeowners to manage comings and goings. 

Early this year, One Fine Stay attracted backing to the tune of $15.9 million from Index Ventures, PROfounders Capital, Canaan Partners and David Magliano.

3. Unikey - Digital Keys Product "Kevo"

Unikey appeared on the TV show 'Shark Tank' mid 2012, and received capital raising offers from Mark Cuban for their Digital Keys device. Recently they announced their first product offering, called Kevo, developed from a partnership with Kwikset.

The company has raised about $2.3 million with an option for another $1 million on the table; 
Read more here

4. Apigy - Digital Keys product "Lockitron"

After a rejection by Kickstarter, the co-founders of Lockitron, Cameron Robertson and Paul Gerhardt, decided to follow in the footsteps of and take pre-orders for their innovative deadbolt add-on directly. This gamble paid off. Big time. 

The initial goal of $150,000 pre-orders was hit within 24 hours. Just five days after launching, the company has $1,500,000 in pre-orders. At the end of their 30 day campaign Lockitron had raised $2.2 Million.

5. Hyudai - Digital Keys Product "Connectivity Concept"

According to Hyundai, "the Connectivity Concept allows the user to lock and unlock the car by placing their smartphone over an NFC-tag (near-field communication), negating the need for a traditional key fob."  Hyundai are planning to implement this new technology in all of their new cars from 2015.

We don't know how much money that Hyundai has invested in developing their Connectivity Concept, but we assume its significant.

If you would like to learn about LEAPIN's Digital Keys product, then please get in touch with us at

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