Founders Story

Digital Keys builds smart access control solutions for safety, security and smarter business operations. We’re leaders in Smart Access – a new era in smart building management, which is about devices, such as locks and alarms, embedded with electronics, Internet connectivity, and other forms of hardware (such as sensors), communicating and interacting with other devices over the Internet. The devices can be remotely monitored and controlled by people with software and apps or artificially intelligent systems. But where did the founders story begin?

Steve Dunn, co-founder, after facing the aforementioned problems, in his workplace and home began investigating mobile phone unlocking solutions in the market, but he found zero existing solutions that could meet the council requirements, and for use in his own apartment. So Steve enlisted a team of software developers to build their first digital keys app in 2011 working with a variety of property owners, and lock manufacturers to better understand their access management pain points.

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Steve entered the app in his University’s annual innovation competition (he was studying a MBA part-time) and won. He then assembled a team of other engineer and marketing students to become his co-founders, and they entered the prestigious Licencing Executives Society Annual Entrepreneurship Competition, representing his University and beating other teams from Harvard University, Standford and Yale to finish Runner up.

A strong interest from hotels and resorts for their digital keys app emerged, and the founders worked on adding extra features to the app such as complete end-to-end automated web-check-in system. 

To support the development of their product, Digital Keys was accepted into the 10x Accelerator Program run out of the Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, USA. 

The year 2016 was a game-changing one for Digital Keys. It was then that the founders recognized NB IoT’s technology potential to ensure the security and reliability of access control systems that connect to the internet. This was a breaking point in answering the question, “How do you make sure that a lock can connect to the internet without being tampered with, and without any onsite network infrastructure”.

In 2017 and 2018, the Digital Keys team built a NB IoT smart access control system for the purpose of bringing the most secure, the most reliable, and the most affordable system to the physical security industry. The solution got significant traction in the UK, where it was awarded a R&D grant from the European Commission.

The usability of the technology was recognized in other verticals and industries as well. Digital Keys then developed a complete end-to-end smart access solution including a NB IoT platform, API’s, digital keys apps, digital keys management software, and NB IoT smart locks. The NB IoT platform and API’s means many more products/services can easily be made smart, and safely connect to the internet.