Techstars Startup Sequr Opens Doors to Innovation

Between work, your apartment building and gym, you’re constantly juggling access cards and key fobs to get through the door. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably lost them a time or two (probably six). It’s a dated system that isn’t all of that secure, especially if you lose your keycard. This conundrum sparked an idea between Andrew Eddy and Michael Maxsenti while in college. Together, they created Sequr  — a cloud-based access control that operates from your phone — as a solution.

“When you compare a mobile credential to a physical credential, it’s insane how much more secure they are. There’s a lot of stuff that I’m excited about,” says Eddy, CEO of Sequr. Along with COO Maxsenti and CTO Mishit Patel.

With approval (and funding) from David Cummings and a spot in the current cohort at Techstars Atlanta, Sequr is kicking down doors and grabbing onto success as they grow and bring access control into the 21st century.

The Atlanta Tech Village residents released their product this month and are already gathering feedback for new ways to expand (including as one of 32 companies selected for Venture Atlanta). We talked to Eddy about what inspired the jump into this dated industry, the team’s experience through Techstars Atlanta, and what’s next for them after the accelerator.

access_controlWhat’s Sequr all about?

Sequr is a cloud-based access control system. We manage buildings with card readers that get people in and out. There’s a whole process to managing that system. You have to create schedules or door groups, what we call them. The biggest role of the system is to create credentials. If you’ve used one to get into an apartment, or into an office, that’s going to be a key fob or a key card or some sort of physical credential, it’s managed through one of these access control systems.

Sequr saw a lot of problems with the existing software out there. That’s really where we started to develop this product. Now, at the forefront of that technology is what we call mobile access — meaning we take those physical credentials and we put them on your phone and they work the exact same way that a physical credential is going to work.

It’s this really neat management system that brings in this modern touch to a really dated industry. For some reason, access control software got left behind because the hardware is fairly impressive. Sequr doesn’t manufacture their own hardware, but we integrate with all the open source hardware on the market. We can seamlessly transition a specific facility if they have the hardware, and usually it’s a painless rip and replace, if they don’t have the appropriate hardware.

What’s your founder’s story?

My co-founder, Michael Maxsenti, and I met in college. He, at the time, lived in a gated community in California and they had a call box. He told me one summer someone etched in the pin code to the call box so everyone goes in and out. He asked the HOA manager to change the pin code and the guy said he didn’t know how. That’s the ethos of what started the genesis of Sequr.

We’re like let’s create a visitor management system for gated communities. It actually started with gated communities with guards. Really think about how narrow our market was, that’s tiny. We created this visitor management platform and we saw an opportunity to do something with call boxes.

It’s a product we continue to sell, but we kept getting feedback from our existing customers, “Can you manage our credentials? Can you manage our entire access control system? We love the way Secure looks, we love the way it feels. We want this to be a part of our more mission critical day-to-day operations.” You can only hear feedback so much without doing something, so we did a deep dive into the current industry. We actually started developing that product in about February of this year, so it’s relatively new.

That’s how you know you have an actual product. If there’s already a problem, and then you come in with the solution.

using-phonesequrHow has the rising entrepreneurial community in Atlanta has supported you?

Absolutely — especially now that we’ve gotten into Techstars. As far as the Atlanta community supporting us, it’s been amazing. Atlanta Tech Village is a great home for resources from finding development talent to helping people promote your product. Some of our existing customers that have adopted early are Atlanta ventured companies and people plugged into the Atlanta entrepreneurial scene. It’s really actually apparent that especially with cost, partnering with Techstars they want to see companies succeed in Atlanta. They want Atlanta to grow so they can grow and the more success. Success breeds success.I’m shocked at how strong the tech community actually is here.

Everyone here has been super supportive and we’ve found that we can find talent here, and that Atlanta is a perfect market for us as well as far as selling our product.

What has that experience been like so far and what do you hope to achieve from it?

Techstars has been amazing. It’s the only word for it. Starting off with what I and the team really want to get out of Techstars, there are three things. One, I’d obviously like to become a better entrepreneur. Learn from people who’ve done it. Learn from people who’ve taken businesses and scaled them and even had successful exits. Two would be exposure. Techstars is a widely known accelerator, very prestigious, has a huge, huge network of people that make themselves available and will help you get intros to potential clients or investors or whatever it may be. Then, the third would be fundraising. It’s geared towards this demo day where you’re surrounded by investors and friends and family. The end goal seems to be to raise money. Whether the company does it or not, it puts you in the best possible position to do that.

After Techstars, are you hoping to raise more money? If so, what will you use it for?

Yes, we’re going to be raising money. We’re going to be using it for a couple things. One, round out the technical team. Though it’s solid, we’re missing a few pieces. The second is to develop a solid sales team. We’re going to approach the account executive/SDR approach for direct sales here in Atlanta. Then most importantly — and this is a big part about our business — we sell through distribution. Meaning every city, like Atlanta, has 50 to 60 security companies that go out and they install access control, they install security cameras, they do it all. They are our indirect sales force. We’re really selling to them and they go out there and they have a product offering in their menu of services.

cloud1What’s on deck for you guys in the next 6 to 12 months?

A lot of the next 6 months will be a combination of building the future of our product and building in additional integrations and business logic with our current product. Right now, you can walk up to a door and open it with your phone’s Touch ID, but if you’re a receptionist and you’re letting people in and out, we can integrate slack so they can just type /open. We can integrate with IOT buttons. We can integrate with PR software, so people are automatically on-boarded and off-boarded. We say the best interface is no interface. If we can on-board and off-board people and assign and partition credentials without them even having to do anything, that’s a huge success for us.

On the residential side, integrating with property management software. Then on the enterprise, integrating with HR software. Ultimately, we see Sequr as an IOT platform. This gets a little more into the residential side. We work with apartment complexes all over the Southeast. One of the biggest asks we get is can you manage our exterior access, our unit access, and there are two more big asks, can you manage the thermostats and/or the water heater and/or water pipes. This is the holy grail for apartment communities. One of the hardest things to accomplish is access control out of all those pieces, so if we can do that right, we have a vision for Sequr being a turn key solution for an entire complex that can save them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Interview by Kiki Roeder. Development by Muriel Vega.