While Nexkey might be new to the security scene, the company has already made a name for itself, earning a coveted New Product Showcase Award from the Security Industry Association in the wireless access control device and peripheral category at ISC West last year. The company was officially incorporated in 2013, but has been working to break into the access control market since 2016. 

“We really thought about access — specifically, access control — and this space is very interesting,” said Nexkey CEO Eric Trabold. “It’s one of those rare things that you and I do every day — we go through so many doors. So we thought this would be an interesting space to go after.”

No one on the Nexkey team had a background in access control, but they had all worked at big companies where they carried around key cards. Always seeing this as a nuisance, they figured there had to be a better way.

“There seems to be a problem where nobody really likes carrying around those keys,” Trabold said. “We saw there were products like this for consumers, but there wasn’t a good fix for companies.”

That’s when they created the Nexkey Core, the winner of the 2019 SIA New Product Showcase Award. The smart cylinder can be pushed into any lock — on a door, file cabinet, locker or even padlock — to turn it into a smart lock the consumer can lock and unlock with their phone. 

After that product was out on the market, consumers started asking for a solution that would connect existing electric strikes and magnetic locks to the Nexkey platform. The Nexkey Controller does just this, making it possible to unlock and secure any door via Bluetooth.

What really sets Nexkey products apart from others in the access control space, though, is how easy they are to install. This is mostly because the Nexkey Controller is a reader, door controller and access control panel in one, so only one hardware needs to be installed. 

“We have a principal that installation should be super easy because it’s a main cost driver,” Trabold said. “The cords can be installed by any locksmith or handyman, and our controller can be installed in 60-90 minutes. Last week one of our installation partners in San Francisco outfitted 33 doors in eight hours. If he had to install a traditional access control system, he said he maybe could have finished two or three doors in that time, considering all the wiring he would have needed to do. The installer made much more money and the customer was happy it was all done so fast. So it was a win-win.”

According to Trabold, this key differentiator has brought a lot of business to the start-up early on. There were more than 5,000 users of the Nexkey Controller six months after it hit the market, and that number climbed to 9,500 by the end of the year. And word of Nexkey's ease just keeps spreading — approximately 10 percent of Nexkey’s monthly business over the past 10 months has come from referrals, according to Trabold. 

The Nexkey team is still small with 18 employees making up its current staff. The company’s main focus for the coming year is to increase brand awareness and drive more business across the U.S. They also want to improve the current product portfolio based off customer feedback, adding the ability to assign users to a specific group of doors, and to access more intelligent information on who is checking into their building and when. 

And make sure to stop by the Nexkey booth at ISC West next year, where you will find a brand new product.

“That will be a real game changer for the industry," Trabold said. "We have not seen anything like this before.”