Highlights We are also focusing a lot on market expansion in the United States…our US market grew almost three times despite the pandemic. And with that, we saw this huge opportunity that we should tap into. A lot of large-scale enterprises, especially in developed markets, have realized that it is important for them to […]

S03E12: igloocompany CEO Anthony Chow on expanding into the US, Singapore startups going global from day one, and building a global distribution network

Highlights

  1. We are also focusing a lot on market expansion in the United States…our US market grew almost three times despite the pandemic. And with that, we saw this huge opportunity that we should tap into.
  2. A lot of large-scale enterprises, especially in developed markets, have realized that it is important for them to restructure the way they operate. And smart access becomes one very key component of the way that they run their business.
  3. When we’re trying to replace physical keys, the markets where they are the biggest pain point are markets where the labor cost is the highest. This really points to markets like the US and Europe and other developed markets around the world, such as North Asia, Australia, Singapore, et cetera.
  4. One of the important things about being a Singapore company is the amount of credibility in the brand that being based here gives you…we’re quite proud to share that during the past 12 months, we have not lost a single partner around the world. And a lot of it has been the way we carry out our work, the reputation that we’ve built with our global partners, and being a Singapore company definitely contributes a huge part to that as well. 
  5. Really understand your customer…and then you look at which geography is the one where you can maximally penetrate that market that you want to go into…once you’ve identified which geography that you want to go into…it’s important to then find strategic partners within the market itself. After that, finding good capital within the market is also important as well. 
  6. How do we enable everyone to be continuously connected, not just during the good times, but also during the tough times? And this is something that our business development team, our marketing team, our commercial team spend a lot of effort with, not just understanding the market, but also understanding their operations.
  7. You have to look at what your competitors are doing, but you don’t go too deep into worrying about them stealing your customers or you stealing their customers because the world is huge. And having customers stick with you, believing in what you’re doing, that’s extremely important.
  8. What I see in the next five years for the company I think is in the next two to three years, we are going to be experiencing at least a 10 times growth in our US market.
  9. Laying the foundation is one thing, but really in the industry that we play in, we are kind of straddling between the physical and the digital in terms of security, so innovation in product development and technology development must continuously run so that we don’t just stay ahead of our competitors, but live by what we sell to our clients- -selling peace of mind, selling security.

In this episode, we have back on the show, Anthony Chow, CEO, and co-founder of igloocompany. In his last episode with us, igloocompany (then igloohome) was just celebrating its five-year anniversary and holding its first distributor conference, iglooCon, remotely. He shared with Yinglan the company’s journey in the past five years, how they expanded into enterprise solutions through iglooworks, and exciting prospects amidst the impact of the pandemic. Ten months later, he’s back to share how igloocompany has refocused its energies on developed markets, interesting new use cases of their smart access solutions (from durians to vaccines!), and how they’re leveraging their Singapore advantage as they deepen their global expansion.

About our guest

Prior to co-founding igloohome, Anthony Chow led data science teams in developing proprietary personalization engines for Singtel’s Group Digital Life unit. This extensive data science experience and expertise has been critical to Igloohome’s engineering and data-driven approach to growth across 100 countries globally.

Anthony holds an Electrical and Electronics Engineering degree from Imperial College London and a Master’s in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University. He was also an Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore scholar.

Timestamps

01:20 Anthony brings us up to speed on igloocompany’s past 10-12 months;

03:39 Underlying factors behind igloocompany’s focus on the US market;

05:26 Why developed markets over developing markets for smart access solutions;

07:11 The edge of being a global company based in Singapore;

09:55 Advice for founders looking to go global from day one;

12:01 Interesting new use cases of iglooworks across markets;

15:12 Building and sustaining a global distribution network for igloocompany;

17:58 igloocompany’s advantage and how it has developed over the past five years;

20:53 The next five years for igloocompany;

23:39 Rapid Fire Round;

Transcript

Paulo: Once again, thanks for coming back on the show with us to update us on what’s been happening, Anthony. How are you doing?

Anthony: Thank you so much for inviting me back on call, even seeing you on season three of all, it’s been a good ride. 

Paulo: It’s not just been a ride for us at the show, but I’m pretty sure it’s been a ride for you as well at igloocompany. A lot has happened since you last came on the show. I mean, a few weeks before we recorded, you guys had celebrated five years. Right. And we talked a little bit about that. And also the first time that you had a iglooCon remotely,   for the distributors, and then a few weeks after we published the episode, you guys then rebranded to igloocompany.

Anthony: That’s right. A lot has happened, definitely. 

Paulo: So perhaps you can catch up with our listeners, bring them up to speed with where the company is these days.

Anthony: Definitely. I think the past 12 months have definitely been a roller coaster ride for ourselves and also many other startups in the industry and companies as well. Three things that I’d like to share that have really been front and center of what we’ve been doing over the past 12 months.

First of all, we have been accelerating the product launches that we’re bringing to market. All the way through our fifth year anniversary, we have probably five to six different products that we have shipped into the market all around the world. In 2021, we have an aggressive plan to launch 12 products in the market. That is two times more productive than what we ever have, increasing our product range by about three times. And this goes across both the consumer as well as enterprise space. And a lot of products are coming out for the enterprise sector products, such as our NPLT Deadbolt, a very innovative product that works on the cellular network, focusing on the real estate and the infrastructure management space. Another interesting product that we’re launching is also the Swing Handle product focusing on smart data centers. So increasing our product range is one thing that we have been working very hard on. 

The second one is we are also focusing a lot on market expansion in the United States. And over 2021, we saw different markets having different opportunities as well as challenges. And in fact, our US market grew almost three times despite the pandemic. And with that, we saw this huge opportunity that we should tap into. And we have really been working very closely with our local partner over in the US, and we’re excited that we are finalizing a deal with them where we will merge, and we will go live directly over in the US. And we will be announcing this in July 2021. 

And the third one is we’re kind of restructuring our operations for faster growth. The pandemic has brought about many challenges, regarding supply chain, operations, component shortages. And that’s one big work that the company has been doing to tap on many of our local resources within China and Korea to circumvent many of these issues that have been brought up during this pandemic. 

We are also focusing a lot on market expansion in the United States…our US market grew almost three times despite the pandemic. And with that, we saw this huge opportunity that we should tap into.

Paulo:  I think a lot of exciting things are happening, producing a lot of different products. You talk about market expansion in the US, so I wanted to touch on what you’ve seen in the US and other more mature markets like Europe and Australia. What do you think are the underlying factors that produced this kind of trend that you saw and where do you see this trend going forward?

Anthony: What’s important, especially during the pandemic, is that a lot of large-scale enterprises, especially in the developed market, like the US as well as in Europe have realized that it is important for them to restructure the way they operate. And smart access becomes one very key component of the way that they run their business. Especially in the US we are on track for full scale operations, with many of our guys over in the US, with direct links with them. 

Real Estate: And we are seeing growth in multiple different industries. The first one of it being the real estate space. Real estate is moving. And in this climate, there’s a lot of impetus for many of these large scale property management companies to be able to manage letting people in and out of properties, for lease, for sale, for rental, in a much easier fashion without passing keys around. 

Ecommerce: There’s a huge trend in rising e-commerce as well globally. Over in the US, a lot more packages are being delivered to homes. And when people are not at home, they need to be put to a nearby locker system for easy pickup and returns. So that has been growing very quickly for us as well. 

Facilities Management: Over in facilities management, a lot of buildings — in fact, in the US there’s 120 million buildings. And all these buildings require someone to manage the facilities, access to the rooftop, pump rooms and switch rooms. And allowing contractors access these locations becomes important to digitalize the entire process of facilities management.

So in the developed markets, especially across us and Europe, you see many businesses adopting this kind of solutions to digitalize the entire process. And we are part of the entire solution that they are revolutionizing the entire real estate space. 

A lot of large-scale enterprises, especially in developed markets, have realized that it is important for them to restructure the way they operate. And smart access becomes one very key component of the way that they run their business.

Paulo: That sounds really good because we’re seeing a lot of different businesses trying to digitalize things. I was just wondering how did that opportunity that you saw in the US and Europe compare to how things are pacing right now in Southeast Asia. Are businesses not as quick to adapt or is the infrastructure not as there yet compared to these markets where it’s easier for them to integrate the technologies that you guys have at igloocompany?

Anthony: It all comes down to one single factor and that is labor costs. Because when we’re trying to replace physical keys, the markets where they are the biggest pain point are markets where the labor cost is the highest. This really points to markets like the US and Europe and other developed markets around the world, such as North Asia, Australia, Singapore, et cetera. In fact, over in the US and Europe, we see a lot of applications that have started to use our products that we never thought they’ll be doing. For example, in utility management, car sharing, and in Australia as well, tennis courts, when you want to book tennis courts, the tennis reservation can also go keyless with our Iglooworks solutions to allow you to book for an hour or two. Over in Europe, we’re seeing a lot of parcel drop off and pickups, companies that have started to work with us to enable them to have a much more seamless way of delivering packages to people.

Whereas if you’re looking at the developing markets, the push towards smart access for smart cities and smart homes is a trend that we’re seeing picking up, but we do believe that the time will take a bit longer because the pain might not be as strong. Over in Southeast Asia, we’re seeing successes more around the real estate property developer for smart homes. So especially if you look at Thailand, which is one of our fastest-growing markets over in Southeast Asia, many of the top property developers are working with us to design smart homes and smart apartments for the residential properties as well as mixed-use commercial buildings that they’re building within Thailand itself, followed closely by Vietnam and some other markets in Southeast Asia. 

When we’re trying to replace physical keys, the markets where they are the biggest pain point are markets where the labor cost is the highest. This really points to markets like the US and Europe and other developed markets around the world, such as North Asia, Australia, Singapore, et cetera.

Paulo: That’s really interesting that you ironed that out and laid that out for our listeners.  Going back to that trajectory, right, oftentimes we hear two growth trajectories, either you’re a Singapore company that goes regional from day one and tries to capture that or you’re an Indonesian company that tries to capture that big market, but you guys are doing a third trajectory, which is Singapore company, but going global. As a Singapore company going global from day one, what are the advantages that you see with coming from Singapore that will really help you as you look towards the US and Europe and expand over there?

Anthony: The Singapore market has been very helpful for us. And I think the ecosystem that the Singapore government has put in place has also been very helpful for us.  Being a Singapore company allows us to leverage on the various government agencies and assistance programs that have been put in place. Two in particular that I would like to bring up. 

The first one is Enterprise Singapore that supports many small, medium enterprises to upgrade and internationalize. We have been beneficiaries of many of the grants that they put up there for us to use. And specifically with internationalization, we have been tapping on their extensive network globally to be able to find distributors, go for trade shows, find potential clients all around the world, through the network that they have set up. And they were the ones that helped us springboard. In fact, our very first partner in the US was an introduction from Enterprise Singapore back in about four years ago. 

The second one that has been very helpful for us is IMDA, which is the InfoComm Media Development Authority of Singapore. They help to regulate the InfoComm sector within Singapore. So IMDA has a program called the IMDA Green Lane Accreditation program, and it helps to create enterprise software products and innovative hardware solutions that have been developed by Singapore companies, that are ready for government deployment as well as large-scale enterprise deployment. And in fact, we went through the program. They assisted us in getting our backend solutions, our software and hardware certified for cybersecurity, and also certified the company ready for large-scale enterprise clients. And through that, we got the accreditation program. And from there, we also managed to get quite a number of potential clients within Singapore, and also beyond Singapore as well. 

But I think one of the important things that I feel that being a Singapore company is the amount of credibility in the brand that being based here gives you. Especially in this world during the pandemic where everyone’s working remotely, the most important currency in business is trust. And being able to honor contracts, documents that you put out there with your partners around the world and knowing that you will be good on your word, I think has been very important for us to do business, especially during this time. So I think we’re quite proud to share that during the past 12 months, we have not lost a single partner around the world. And a lot of it has been the way we carry out our work, the reputation that we’ve built with our global partners and being a Singapore company definitely contributes a huge part to that as well. 

One of the important things about being a Singapore company is the amount of credibility in the brand that being based here gives you…we’re quite proud to share that during the past 12 months, we have not lost a single partner around the world. And a lot of it has been the way we carry out our work, the reputation that we’ve built with our global partners and being a Singapore company definitely contributes a huge part to that as well. 

Paulo: Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear that you guys really benefited from being a Singapore company in many different ways, especially now going through the pandemic. What advice would you have for those founders thinking of going on a similar trajectory going to markets outside of Southeast Asia?

Anthony: Not just looking at market expansion, I think it’s important for every company to be very focused on the market that the product is being built for, the product-market fit, not specifically looking at the geography. The market fit is actually more important than anything.

One example from our history is that when we first started, we wanted to be very focused on the vacation rental market. And in the whole world, the Airbnb market was the biggest in the US and so while we designed the solution, we needed to understand the pain points and the use case for an Airbnb host in the US because that’s the most mature market for this kind of home sharing. And so that’s where we started. 

And in fact, what we did was also to really understand our customers, we lived a day in the shoes of our customers, and by being Airbnb hosts ourselves. So in fact, in the first 12 months, we actually had a property with five rooms renting out on Airbnb and using our own solution so that we know what kind of productivity gains, what kind of benefits and value that our products can bring to our customer and to ourselves. And from there it’s easier to then scale up to any other Airbnb hosts.

So I think the important thing is to really understand your customer as well, to actually live a day in the shoes of your customer. And then you look at which geography is the one where you can maximally penetrate that market that you want to go into.

And then I think subsequently, once you’ve identified which geography that you want to go into where the maximum potential is there, I think it’s important to then find strategic partners within the market itself. You will never know the local cultural norms, the local cultural business practices, and also the network and relationship in the market. And it’s very important to find a partner who is strategic to you in their market, not just in terms of a potential sales network, but also in terms of deployment servicing the customer. And after that finding good capital within the market is also important as well.   

Really understand your customer…and then you look at which geography is the one where you can maximally penetrate that market that you want to go into…once you’ve identified which geography that you want to go into…it’s important to then find strategic partners within the market itself. After that finding good capital within the market is also important as well.   

Paulo: Those are really great points. It’s clear that igloocompany has already been building the foundation for actually going global and going into these different markets, even five years ago when you guys were already putting yourselves in the shoes of being Airbnb hosts. So speaking of going global, one thing I enjoyed from the previous podcast was actually listening to the different case studies that you mentioned, which are all quite interesting, talking about internet infrastructure in China, telecommunications companies in the US, hospitals in the UK, golf courses in Australia…

Anthony: Yeah, every business needs locks. 

Paulo: Every business needs locks, exactly. So I was wondering if you could, given this new focus that you have as a company moving forward, what are the new interesting case studies that you’ve encountered since we last talked?

Infrastructure Development

Anthony: First of all, the biggest scale projects that we started to embark on since the last time we spoke, a lot of them are infrastructure development.

Infrastructure Development / Utility Management

And these are really related to smart cities projects, across utilities deployment. For example, we are working with some big utility companies in central Europe where we help them secure access to their rooms, their equipment areas, their gates, as well as different pump rooms and switch rooms that they have that are deployed across the country. I think infrastructure management is one big use case that we have been starting to tap into and starting to deploy.

Real Estate Management

Another big one is in the real estate space, where more and more property management companies that are trying to buy and sell these properties are starting to realize that managing physical keys is a big pain point and they need to get rid of it to help them streamline the whole process. So a lot of those single family property owners or multi-family property owners in the US started to approach us to adapt and change up the physical ways to run access digitally with iglooworks. 

Durian Transport

Interesting ones I can share with you — one of them is actually over in Thailand. Thailand is a huge producer of durians and we always say that the more valuable the product that you are trying to secure, the more value iglooworks can provide as a solution. So this particular transport company, they transport durians across the country and they realized that along the way, sometimes the durians would go missing because the durians are tasty and maybe someone will take the durians away and have a snack along the way. So they bought our locks from us, secured their trucks, and so that the trucks will be geo-fenced. So only when they reach the designated delivery point, the padlock opens and then the durians can be delivered. And it helps them save on any durians that might go missing along the way. 

Live Organ Transport

We have other nice use cases as well, especially with the pandemic. We also have hospitals that have started to approach us. One very interesting one that came across our table was this hospital over in Japan that wanted to use our iglooworks solutions to secure life organ transplant. They need a way to be able to secure that box that stores the live organ and make sure that the entire delivery is tracked and is safe and secure from hospital A to hospital B. 

Vaccine Transport

But beyond this, we started to see a lot of companies that started to use our products to secure vaccinations. So we have a couple of projects over in the US, and even in Mexico as well to lock up lockers, whether it was to store the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines, so that only when the right people are there, then you can allocate and take out the vaccination to vaccinate the individual. 

Paulo: I think as you said previously everything needs locks. Moving on from the tech, I also wanted to talk about people as well and specifically sales, right. Because I think that would be a huge component in terms of driving the business both on the B2C and the B2B side of things. It would be great to know what is your approach to building an efficient sales operation, that’s not just regional, but really global.

Anthony: We wanted to focus on the global market from day one, and it’s important for us to put in the relevant infrastructure to support this global vision that we have. So one of the important things that we put in as a tenet within the company is that it’s always important to treat all of our sales partners around the wall as if they are part of our team, continuously build trust and have transparent communications with them. This really goes down to not just when we have product launches, but also in the way our product failures affect them as well. So we share with them what is wrong and what we are doing to correct our issues so that they can continuously have faith in us. And they can do their jobs within the market, which is to sell and service and deploy the products within the market. 

And in fact, we take this quite far as well to the extent that sometimes where we have individuals within the headquarters in Singapore or in China, sometimes we also deploy them into our distribution partners. For example we have one of our business development guys deployed in Vietnam for a month to help our distribution partner within Vietnam to get onboarded. We have somebody that spent about two months over the US as well with our local partner in New York to enable the entire onboarding of our partner, and also get first deals and first wins together with them. This creates that nice relationship between our company, as well as our partners around the world. And we all see ourselves as the same team. 

The second point is how do we enable everyone to be continuously connected, not just during the good times, but also during the tough times? And this is something that our business development team, our marketing team, our commercial team spend a lot of effort with, not just understanding the market, but also understanding their operations. How do we ensure that they are able to perform effectively within the market?

So one great example that our team actually did was when we were building distribution points across Europe, and today we have probably about 20 of our distribution partners within Europe. It is very challenging to ship containers and products to different markets within Europe because of different tax laws, different import duties and it’s different from France to Latvia, to Norway, Sweden. So what we did was we worked with our local partners to come up with a strategy to consolidate all the shipments to one specific location over in Ireland where everything is shipped there and it will be disseminated through there and this is something that our team doesn’t have to do. We could have just left it to our partners on the ground, but by our team stepping in, we help optimize the cost for everyone involved. And that helped to build the trust and loyalty and the long-term working relationship with our partners on the ground. And this is just one of many examples that we have.

How do we enable everyone to be continuously connected, not just during the good times, but also during the tough times? And this is something that our business development team, our marketing team, our commercial team spend a lot of effort with, not just understanding the market, but also understanding their operations.

Paulo: That’s a really great example that you guys really go the extra mile in terms of creating this ecosystem where everybody really supports each other. The past few, like past off the 18 months that you’ve mentioned and I’m sure it has been a period of huge change at igloocompany, not just with doubling down in terms of the enterprise, but also focusing on a lot more markets beyond Southeast Asia. I’m just wondering, and I’m sure our listeners would love to know as well, how has the moat for igloocompany, or the advantage that you guys have, evolved over time, given the different focuses that you had over the years. How will this influence your company’s growth moving forward?

Anthony: With every company that is trying to make a change within the industry, that is also bringing solutions to the market, I think the first thing is always to have customers that believe in what you do. You have to look at what your competitors are doing, but you don’t go too deep into worrying about them stealing your customers or you stealing their customers, because the world is huge. And having customers stick with you, believing in what you’re doing, that’s extremely important. And that really comes from the way we treat our customers very much like how we treat our people within our organization. It’s all with trust, with openness, and we build a reputation with them. And them staying with you, through COVID period, through any issues with the product, that means you are actually creating value for them. I think that’s number one. And that’s very important that we have cultivated a great pool of customers that believe in what we are doing and will help us expand our market beyond this initial set of customers.

This was a nice quote from Paul Graham from Y Combinator, who mentioned that it’s a lot better to have just 10 customers that truly love your product, rather than a hundred customers, who just sort of like your product. The people who love your product will eventually be true ambassadors of your company. And that helps you build that brand awareness greatly over in the markets or industries that you want to go into. 

The second thing is the people that we have. We have built a great team across the multiple functions that we have across sales operations, product, engineering and some of the thought leaders within the industry have joined us and they have the belief in our vision. And because good people come together, the probability of you executing on your vision and achieving it becomes much higher. And I think once somebody also said that, especially during this COVID period, surviving is the new growth. Just having good people, making sure that we are continuously executing, moving in the right track, it’s a good success, and we’ve seen many of our competitors who have just kind of faded away because of the different challenges that they face and a lot of that has to deal with the people that they have.

One more thing on the people side is also the investors and the shareholders that we have, like Insignia. Our investors have really been strong partners of the  company. It’s one thing to be together during good times, but when the going gets tough, we’ve really been very honored to have great supporters of the brand as we continue to overcome some of these challenges that COVID has hit us and to continuously capitalize on the demand that COVID has brought about as well.

You have to look at what your competitors are doing, but you don’t go too deep into worrying about them stealing your customers or you stealing their customers, because the world is huge. And having customers stick with you, believing in what you’re doing, that’s extremely important.

Paulo: Likewise, it’s been a privilege to have stuck things out with you from the beginning, through the pandemic and until now, and speaking of moving forward, one thing we always ask our guests here on the show, especially the CEOs is where do you see the company being in the next five years?

Anthony: Well, I think there are a lot of parallels in the period that we are going through right now with the Spanish flu back in 1918. That was when 500 million people were infected, tens of millions of people died. But what was interesting was what happened next, right? The end of the pandemic during the 1918, 1920s actually brought about a period known to us right now as the roaring twenties. It was a decade of huge cultural, economic prosperity as well as technology revolution. And I believe that we see a lot of parallels to what we are experiencing right now, and I think the technology revolution has really started to kick in and the way we live, work, play, or travel has completely changed, just in the past 12 months.

And this change is unlikely to go back to pre COVID-19 pandemic era. And I strongly believe that smart access and the work that we do is going to be very strongly embedded in the homes that we live in, the businesses that we run, the cities that we build, and the opportunities for smart access in the next five years, 10 years is going to be huge. And the growth is going to be tremendous. What I see in the next five years for the company I think is in the next two to three years, we are going to be experiencing at least a 10 times growth in our US market. We can see the pipeline is there, the deployments are starting and the customers are there. Over in Europe where we are putting a lot of effort to start building the operations, we’ll be starting to see expanding operations within the different European markets, probably starting with Central Europe, moving to Scandinavia and Eastern Europe as the years go by. 

But I think importantly, being in Singapore as our headquarters, we see ourselves as the dominant player for smart access within Singapore, as a shining example of smart access for smart cities out from this little red dot in Singapore and having a strong presence across Southeast Asian region, eventually becoming a market leader in smart access and smart security solutions globally. 

What I see in the next five years for the company I think is in the next two to three years, we are going to be experiencing at least a 10 times growth in our US market.

Paulo: The way I see it is the first five years you guys were really laying the foundations with this ecosystem, different distribution partners, exploring use cases, developing like the core technologies. And now it’s really just rolling things out and doubling down on growth across these different opportunities that you’re seeing. Yeah. So it sounds really exciting. 

Anthony: Yeah, there’s little work to be done. Laying the foundation is one thing, but really in the industry that we play in, we are kind of straddling between the physical and the digital in terms of security, so innovation in product development and technology development must continuously run so that we don’t just stay ahead of our competitors, but live by what we sell to our clients- -selling peace of mind, selling security. And I think this is something that we continuously need to invest in R&D for, on our way to become the market leader in the space.

Laying the foundation is one thing, but really in the industry that we play in, we are kind of straddling between the physical and the digital in terms of security, so innovation in product development and technology development must continuously run so that we don’t just stay ahead of our competitors, but live by what we sell to our clients- -selling peace of mind, selling security.

Rapid Fire Round

Top Three Skills of a CEO?

Anthony: The first one is that as a CEO, it’s very important to be able to gather information effectively and find out sources of truth very quickly. Learn fast so that you can prioritize and make decisions as quickly as possible. Because as a CEO, you’re always the bottleneck to making strategic decisions within the organization.  

The second thing is really around how do you have good people management and influencing skills? This is so important to be able to bring people on the same journey as you. Make them work on projects that are of high value and high impact. And so that all of us can do the best work of our life within igloocompany and change the world together. 

And the final thing I feel is to have confidence in the vision and also be confident in a strategy that you and the management team is rolling out, so that the whole team can stand behind it and execute. 

Biggest misconception people have about smart access?

Anthony: The biggest misconception is that digital locks and smart locks are the same thing. Digital locks have been made popular by Korean TV dramas especially because of the widespread adoption in Korea and Japan, China. Those are the ones where you have the PIN code access, you have the finger fingerprint access. When you transition from digital access to smart access, you’re bringing the digital credentials onto the cloud so that you can remotely grant access, monitor access, and revoke access as well. This is a very big difference where digital is still very local, on the door itself or the access points where smart access, you can now, not just grant access, without keys, go keyless, but you can also monitor and grant or revoke access remotely. And I think there is a big change from local to remote.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?

Anthony:  I always want to be an astronaut. So I always like the planets, the solar system, the stars. And I always wanted to be able to travel to space, look at earth from space. Even now I think that’s something that I aspire to go and maybe with igloocompany, we can lock up space shuttles, and we can also lock up the cities of the future on the moon. That will be an amazing thing. 

What was your startup origin story?

Anthony: That was when I think I just graduated from Stanford. I came back to Singapore. I spent about two years working at Singtel. I was in the data science team writing algorithms, analyzing data. But at the same time I was running a small property on the side, trying to manage it because I love to travel Airbnb and I thought that when I have a spare room for my parents. I thought I would just rent it out on Airbnb and make some money from it. And at the same time, I was also doing a lot of hackathons. On weekends, I would join different hackathons and try to do some coding and hopefully win some awards. So there was a particular hackathon that we won, where we proposed an IoT solution to help Airbnb hosts around the world, manage their properties in a much easier fashion and that idea actually stuck with us after the hackathon. And we thought that we could actually scale it up. So we took the idea back over a couple of weekends, we started designing solutions, building it up. And that was kind of the genesis behind starting igloohome. Of course it was a period of a couple of months before we said, let’s go all in, but yeah, this is the short gist of it.

Do you have anything else you want to share with our listeners?

Anthony: Back to the common topic that came up many times during this conversation is that people are the one that makes the business work and make the business successful. The strategy can always change. In fact, we have changed the strategy probably two or three times now across the five years, maybe even more, small little tweaks here and there, but it’s the people that stuck with the company that create a set of core values. They live by it.  So if there’s anyone out there  who loves the vision that we are trying to achieve, to create a world without keys, feel free to reach out. We are hiring across multiple departments, across product development, project management, hardware, firmware development, software, enterprise sales deployments.  There’s opportunities within the organization, and we want to bring in good talent. And we are always on the lookout for good people that join us.  

Just reach out to my email, anthony@igloocompany.co. Just drop me an email or just send your resume across to Insignia and you’ll also receive it as well. 

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