I met Kabir Maiga, co-founder of PassiveBolt, through Joshua Tooker of Union Heritage Capital in Detroit and Endeavor. Both were high on Kabir and Passive Bolt and the pioneering use of blockchain, digital wallets, and hardware to transform how places and things are unlocked. Kabir, who “grew up” developing keyless entry systems for cars with Continental AG, a German multinational automotive parts manufacturer, is a visionary with the practicality of an engineer who knows how to get things done. Kabir pitched the VisionTech Angels Screening Committee in early October. The group was impressed with PassiveBolt’s platform and Kabir, and we invited him to present at our October 27th virtual pitch events. Here’s a preview.
BP: What’s the back story on PassiveBolt?
KM: In 2016, I was working with Continental on keyless entry systems. As I looked forward, I wondered what the world would be like if all entry systems were keyless. With the proliferation of app-driven smart devices, the world wasn’t getting smarter or easier for consumers. Instead, things were getting more complicated and also risky. Think about it. Nearly every app asks for your personal information, which is then stored on their server and therefore vulnerable to being hacked.
I began looking into how we could make this feature, keyless entry, more widely available beyond automotive. At the same time, I wanted to do it in a way that protects people’s personal information. I pitched the idea internally at Continental and they liked it so much they sent me and my team to Munich, Germany, for six months to incubate the idea. Ultimately, Continental allowed us to spin out as a standalone company, PassiveBolt, and also led our seed investment round.
BP: What exactly is your solution?
KM: What we’re doing is using Web3 and decentralized identity to unlock an entirely new class of access control and security solutions based on cryptographic credentialing. Our platform is a combination of hardware and software: blockchain, digital identity wallets, attestations for permission granting, and Web3 hardware. We are eliminating the need for passwords, PINs, key cards, brand-specific app, and other traditional means of entry. Consumer data is private, secure and portable. Companies work with consumers’ digital wallets and there is no need to collect and store personal information. Everything is done cryptographically and meets regulatory compliance by design.
BP: My head’s spinning.
KM: I know this is a lot to digest. Our website goes into a deeper explanation here.
BP: PassiveBolt was won some impressive awards since the company was founded.
KM: Yes, we have. We were recognized at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) as an Innovation Award Honoree in 2020 and 2021. Forbes named us among their Top 7 Unmissable Tech in 2020 and then recognized us again in 2021 as a Forbes NEXT 1000 Honoree. Internet of Things World included PassiveBolt as a Best Consumer IoT nominee in 2020.
BP: What industries can benefit from PassiveBolt? Why are you initially targeting the hospitality industry?
KM: Literally any industry that relies on controlled access. Some examples are hotels, rental cars, storage units, office buildings, and other public spaces. In addition to working with the lock and access control industry, we’re selling directly to the hospitality industry because it’s such a natural fit. Hotels and resorts have a constant exchange of access as guests come and go. Even with technology, it’s a labor-intensive process and hotels are collecting a lot of personal information.
For hotels, our web3 platform enable the manager or reservations department to grant access to rooms with guests’ digital identities rather than collecting all of their personal information such as drivers’ licenses and credit cards. The check-in process and delivery of mobile keys is automated, the guest experience is more seamless, guest identity is automatically authenticated and protected, and the risk to hotels is also minimized because they are no longer handling and storing the personal data of guests.
BP: What’s been the response from hotels?
KM: Very positive. We’re currently deploying to 2,000 hotel rooms.
BP: Where are you in terms of commercialization?
KM: We are growing rapidly through our partnerships with Tier-1 lock and access control companies and hotels. In 2022, we have signed a number of agreement and anticipate the traction to continue in 2023.
BP: What is the size of your addressable market?
KM: Security services are definitely a growth market globally and technology solutions are a contributor. The overall lock and access control market is estimated at $25 billion. Our current focus, the Tier-1 technology partners and hotels, represents a $16 billion market.
BP: What is your revenue model?
KM: Our model is to license or sell our hardware and software as a Tier 1 technology partner to door lock and access control companies. It’s an attractive model for them as they get the best security solution, stay on top of innovation, deploy technology quicker, avoid costs associated with in-house development, and get the web3 technologies they need for security, privacy and regulatory compliance.
BP: Do you have any IP protection?
KM: We have three U.S. patents granted and two that are pending. We are evaluating what global patents to pursue.
BP: What are your competitive advantages?
KM: Traditional security and authentic solutions simply do not compare to the comprehensive security afforded by PassiveBolt. On the corporate side, businesses no longer have to handle and store people’s personal information, which puts them at risk of being hacked. On the consumer side, individuals own, control, and manage their personal data. There is no more worry or stress about one’s information being “out there” for others to use for nefarious reasons.
BP: What fundraising round is this and what is your planned use of funds?
KM: This is a seed plus round and the funds will be used to scale our presence in the hospitality industry.
BP: Why should VisionTech Angels invest in PassiveBolt?
KM: As the pioneer in web3 access control, we have a significant competitive advantage as the first mover. We have a solid team of domain experts in access control from the automotive industry and since spinning off from Continental, we have expanded our expertise to Web3 and other areas. Investors can be confident that we have the right team to execute. Lastly, we have traction and are generating revenue.
VisionTech Angels’ October Pitch Events Featuring PassiveBolt and Adipo Therapeuthics will be virtual on Thursday, October 27 at Noon and at 6 p.m. ET. Pitch events are open to our members and accredited investors interested in joining our group. To register, check your email for an invitation, go to our Events page where you’ll find the RSVP links, or email Ben Pidgeon at firstname.lastname@example.org