2 S’poreans Built Smart Locks After Frustrating Airbnb Stays

Anthony Chow, 33, and Kelvin Ho, 46, often found it inconvenient when they had to pass the keys to their Airbnb customers when they were hosting them at their homes.

This was especially the case when customers wanted to check in at odd hours.

Both are big fans of the home sharing platform and were frequent hosts or guests at Airbnb homes.

Even when they were Airbnb guests, they found a problem getting the keys from the host. This gave them the idea to develop a solution: smart locks.

Afterward, they discovered that access management is an issue that isn’t limited to Airbnb hosts alone – most home and property owners have faced similar issues as well.

With this, they combined their knowledge of software and algorithm design, and worked with partners to develop a smart locking system.

Not just any digital lock

The duo founded the smart lock company igloohome in 2015, specializing in a unique smart lock system that allows home owners to grant visitors access remotely through a mobile app.

They offer smart locks, safes and padlocks that adopt the same single system for both home and business.

Officially, the name “igloohome” means to evoke the safety and clever design of an igloo, which resists storms and stays warm inside.

Unofficially, it was reported that the founders were fans of tech companies like Google and Yahoo, which both had the double “O” in their names, so they decided to adopt the same in “Igloohome”.

Igloohome founders Anthony Chow and Kelvin Ho
Anthony Chow and Kelvin Ho / Image Credit: Park Ga-young / The Investor

Their first product was a WiFi-enabled smart lock, which allows owners to set personalized PINs for guests over the internet, without having to meet them physically.

Anthony, who studied electrical engineering and machine learning at Stanford University, designed the Igloohome Smart Lock with Kevin and then co-founder Walter Wang Yue.

Anthony Chow, founder of the igloohome
Image Credit: HardWareZone

The Smart Lock igloohome was greeted warmly by other Airbnb hosts, but there was one problem: WiFi.

Whenever the WiFi went down, the smart locks would not update with the new PINs, which blocked guests. This led to bad reviews which was bad for business.

Therefore, the team decided to create a better smart lock – a lock that didn’t need WiFi.

Their smart locks don’t require WiFi

After six months of R&D, igloohome released the Deadbolt 02 in March 2016, which works with Bluetooth.

Their website currently features the latest version of the Deadbolt called Deadbolt 2S, along with the Smart Padlock, Smart Keybox 3, and Smart Mortise 2 – which has been dubbed the best mortise lock by the Wall Street Journal.

igloohome Smart Deadbolt 2S
Smart Deadbolt 2S / Image credit: igloohome

What sets them apart from existing products on the market is their unique technology – algoPIN ™ – which allows their devices to be highly secure and able to operate remotely without the need for WiFi connectivity – but they also provide a key physical, just in case.

As our products work offline, reliability is increased against WiFI disruption or hacking. Guests do not need to download an app to unlock our devices, unlike most other Bluetooth locks.

– Anthony Chow, co-founder and CEO of igloohome

As mentioned, owners can generate a PIN code for guests, allowing them to enter and exit the unit without a physical key. They can also select the duration for which they wish to grant access.

For example, homeowners can distribute personalized PINs to contractors or cleaners, allowing them to access your homes without having to be physically present.

igloohome Smart Deadbolt 2S
Smart Deadbolt 2S / Image credit: igloohome

This ensures that these one-off or temporary workers can only access your home for a certain period of time, so that homeowners will not have to worry about unauthorized entry after completion of the assigned task.

Additionally, the igloohome smartphone app also allows owners to view access logs in the same app.

This means that homeowners can track the date and times that visitors or family members enter their home.

Obtain accreditation from Airbnb and IMDA

According to a 2018 Enterprise Singapore article, it took just two years for the startup to become one of Airbnb’s preferred partners, and its products are currently available in more than 80 markets.

The Smart Padlock igloohome
The smart padlock / Image credit: igloohome

They also integrate with many real estate service platforms like self-view and self-visit services to enable more efficient methods of selling or renting property.

In addition, in Singapore, they are the only smart access company to receive accreditation from the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

The Smart Keybox igloohome
The smart key box / Image credit: igloohome

According to Tech Startups, the company has experienced four-fold annual growth since launching its first product in April 2016.

To date, igloohome has raised a total of US $ 16.3 million in disclosed funding. Their investors include Insignia Ventures, Wavemaker Partners and SEEDS Capital.

COVID-19 A catalyst for contactless solutions

As the world disengages in the second half of 2020, Anthony has observed an acceleration in digital transformation among their corporate customers who now wish to explore and adopt contactless solutions.

“With the pandemic as a catalyst, many companies are now looking to go without a key with our corporate line – iglooworks,” he said.

He added that human resources departments should also eliminate the need for access cards or keys, which can take some time to process.

This way, employees don’t have to borrow access cards or wait outside the office door, especially for new hires.

Additionally, with the ability to track access logs, businesses can also take advantage of this feature for employee attendance records.

In an increasingly digital world, punch card machines or non-digital access logs should be phased out.

This is because the smart lock can easily track the movement of people entering and exiting an office in real time and employers can use this data for employee entry and exit clocking records.

Featured Image Credit: e27.co / igloohome

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Jothi Venkat

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