The widespread adoption of flexible working has increased the challenge of managing access to physical, commercial buildings given the dynamic nature of hybrid workspaces. With today’s staffers coming and going to the office on unpredictable schedules, it can be difficult to keep track of who have access to rooms and office resources.
In a recent questionnaire conducted by HID Global, an independent brand of access control conglomerate Assa Abloy, 41% of companies said they believed their current system met requirements – down from 51% in 2021. HID Global is not necessarily impartial as a supplier . But it’s not inconceivable that there is truth in the claim that access control has become more difficult than it once was.
Chip Kruger believes so. Obstacles in the access control room urged him to find SwiftConnect, a platform for handling space reservations, visitors and meetings in physical offices. Kruger previously teamed up with Matt Copel, the other co-founder of SwiftConnect, to start Waltz, an access control company launched in Copel’s dormitory that was acquired by WeWork in mid-2019.
Both Copel and Kruger worked briefly at WeWork, but left to found SwiftConnect in 2020. “We felt that the flexibility and on-demand nature of access control that WeWork wanted would now be a requirement of every owner and user for their own buildings and offices in the future due to changing work patterns, including the increasing number of people who works locally and remotely,” Kruger told gotechbusiness.com in an email interview. “SwiftConnect also took advantage of the fact that administrators also wanted to use physical space and real estate more efficiently.”
SwiftConnect — which today closed a $17 million Series A round co-led by JLL Spark Global Ventures and Navitas Capital — sells access to cloud services that connect existing reference providers, reader terminals and other enterprise systems. The company offers tools to automate identity, credentials, and permission steps for office spaces via mobile devices, for example, a dashboard that allows administrators to provide credentials to access certain buildings on iOS devices through Apple Wallet.
SwiftConnect allows employees and tenants to add their employee badge to Apple Wallet on iPhone or Apple Watch after an initial setup process. Once added, the badge grants them access to their office building, office space and shared fitness and amenities areas secured with NFC-enabled locks.
“As hybrid and flexible work have made implementing seamless access control increasingly challenging, commercial building owners and operators are increasingly seeing it as both an opportunity and a pain point they are trying to solve,” Kruger said. “On-demand, connected, mobile-first access control is a requirement for most organizations that want their access control system to enable a more dynamic space where access permissions and credentials need to change based on space booking or other context.”
SwiftConnect isn’t the first to launch a mobile-centric access control management platform. Openpath, which has raised tens of millions of dollars in venture capital, offers a solution that allows employees to replace their physical access cards with the phones they already have. But Kruger emphasizes that — unlike Openpath — SwiftConnect’s system doesn’t require installing new hardware for the reader.
But what about if your iPhone dies? Well, Kruger doesn’t have the perfect solution to that problem. However, he notes that Apple Wallet works on the Apple Watch even when the ultra-battery-saving Power Reserve mode is active. As for the all-too-common scenario of a misplaced phone, he suggests Apple’s Find My app.
“For office space users, SwiftConnect’s platform means they can happily come back to the office with a skip-the-wait experience that takes them efficiently from street to seat and without ever worrying about a plastic bag again. badge,” Kruger said.
The plug-and-play nature of SwiftConnect’s approach seems to appeal to major real estate clients such as Silverstein Properties, which it installed in the 7th World Trade Center office building in February. SwiftConnect recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to develop “intuitive, employee-centric” experiences on top of Microsoft Places, Microsoft’s app for managing office workers on hybrid work campuses.
That sounds like music to the ears of the investors of SwiftConnect. According to according to Fortune Business Insights, the global access control market was worth $10.31 billion in 2019 and could reach $20.02 billion by 2027.
Kruger said the Series A, which SwiftConnect plans to grow its professional services and engineering teams and expand its presence in the UK, Europe and Australia, has been increased to “weather potential economic headwinds”. It brings the startup’s total cash to $27 million.
“We’ve seen product-market fit given our traction, deployments, customer satisfaction and growth,” Kruger said, refusing to answer questions about revenue or customer numbers. “We are getting significant inbound interest from other industries and geographies, including financial services and technology companies occupying spaces in prime locations in Europe and Australia.”
A mix of real estate and institutional investors, including Nuveen, Cushman & Wakefield, Bridge Investment Group, Crow Holdings, World Trade Ventures, 1414 Ventures and Apple device management provider JAMF, also participated in SwiftConnect’s latest equity financing round. SwiftConnect currently has 70 employees, with an expectation for the end of 2022 – a recruitment wave largely fueled by revenue.