If you search for “golf cart theft” on Google, you’ll find headline after headline highlighting a police department capturing the thieves behind several stolen golf carts. It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds, as most electric golf cart manufacturers use the same key across all carts, making it a cinch for thieves to drive away with them.
There are more than 10,000 registered golf carts in Peachtree City, Georgia, as the city has built a 100-mile pedestrian and cart-accessible path. Many residents use the small vehicles as their main transportation.
When Florian Meier moved to the small city about 30 miles south of Atlanta, he quickly observed the high rates of golf cart theft in the area. A friend that worked in a golf dealership explained the universal key issue to him.
Meier put his electrical engineering and design background to work on a prototype of a a smart, keyless ignition that would start a cart with a short pin code instead of a key.
Meier took the CTO role and brought on CEO Karlos Walkes to lead their new startup XiQ, commercializing their ignition technology.
They called it, The Stinger.
“Many were skeptical at first, but we correlated it back to the key fob. People were resistant when it was first introduced to the mass market. Fast forward to now, most cars come with one instead of a key,” says Walkes.
“Despite additions like solar panels to golf carts, they still remain extremely analog.”
Before jumping into manufacturing the product, the team did extensive customer discovery, bringing the prototype to a local golf cart dealership to obtain feedback. Upon their return a few weeks later, the dealership had already sold the prototypes to customers.
They moved forward with manufacturing.
“In 2016, there was another company that made a unit with a pin code as well but it wasn’t keyless. They hadn’t figure out how to completely remove the key,” says Walkes.
XiQ puts data first. The Stinger Pro App allows the customer to monitor battery power, update the PIN, monitor vehicle usage, and find the location of the recreational vehicle with GPS.
By incorporating IoT features, XiQ has been able to cater to dealerships, universities, malls, and home developments with golf cart fleets.
Soon after their public launch of The Stinger in 2017, the team began receiving requests for a version for heavy machinery, such as forklifts. With this version, the employee needs to log-in before being able to start the machinery, allowing for remote management of the machinery.
The employer is also able to lock an individual out remotely and revoke privileges through two-way communication. All of this data can be seen on a web-based dashboard.
“We started to not only learn how to make our product more expansive and versatile, but going after all kinds of vehicles and machines. We started moving beyond just security and convenience,” Walkes says. “We also need accountability.”
The Stinger is now in stock at Home Depot and is used by security teams around Georgia for their patrolling electric golf carts. XiQ also recently signed an exclusive deal with global golf cart parts and accessories distributor, Nivel.
XiQ is currently in fundraising mode, looking to raise a $500,000 investment. The round is earmarked for product and app development, as well as expanding sales and marketing.