Tech + Health

01.29.14

Smartphone Technology Lets Users Lock and Unlock Their Front Doors Remotely

A Q&A with the CEO of a company that's taking away your keys.

Phil Dumas wants to take away your house keys. Don’t worry, though—the founder and CEO of UniKey Technologies just wants you to use its smartphone technology, which lets users lock and unlock their front doors remotely.

He went on “Shark Tank” in 2012 seeking $500,000 in exchange for 33 percent of UniKey. Negotiations were intense, but when the dust settled, Dumas had accepted half a million dollars for a 40 percent stake.

UniKey is now available at Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s and more. Dirk Wyckoff, UniKey’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in an e-mail that Dumas’ appearance on the show “played a role in the evolution of our company [and] validated consumer interest.”

What effect did “Shark Tank” have on the company, and what are UniKey’s plans? CNBC.com had a Q&A with Wyckoff to find out.

What was the impact to your business of being on ‘Shark Tank’?

After receiving offers from all the sharks, UniKey was able to build an initial following. This resulted in preorders for our product, consumer feedback on what they thought it should be and additional contacts that helped us grow our business to where it is today.

Did the sharks provide any tips or suggestions that changed your business plan?

The sharks all have had great experiences in their respective successes. Their feedback helped us think about how different paths to market are possible and what challenges we may face as we head down those paths.

Was there an immediate reaction from viewers?

Reaction was and has continued to be positive throughout re-airings and worldwide syndication. The proposition of a smartlock that simplifies the traditional lock and key in every way resonates with consumers. After all, a door is something that every viewer has.

What are your sales projections for 2014?

UniKey has set out to replace all your keys, passwords and pins. We launched our first product in the home automation space with Kwikset, the North American leader in residential locks. While we don’t comment on sales projections, we continue to look for entrenched leaders in access control interested in UniKey bringing their hardware to the 21st century.

Were the sharks able to open doors for you in retail or elsewhere?

The sharks were able to open the minds of the consumer market. We understand that the ‘Shark Tank’ audience, much like ourselves, loves innovation, technology and start-ups. Having a successful show assured us that the market for our innovative home automation product was ready and waiting.

Find out more about UniKey on “Shark Tank” on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on CNBC.

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