If you've been a guest in a corporate building recently you are likely to have gone through the laborious process of signing in with your name, signature, company and other details before a bored-looking security guard allows you past reception.
Ingress One aims to solve this with a cloud-powered app designed to keep building security tight but at a lower cost and consumption of ink and paper.
The firm was founded by Phil Woodward in 2014 and now employs five people. V3 directed its spotlight at Woodward to hear more about his startup.
What does Ingress One do?
Ingress One transforms the way you and I get in and out of buildings. It replaces those old guest sign in books and employee access cards with an app.
Building entry is a routine task, and I believe it is ripe for disruption and has the potential to be massively improved. Ingress One makes building entry a much nicer experience. It's more cost effective and tightens building security.
Ingress One provides a software-as-a-service platform to manage building entry and access control. We provide mobile and tablet apps to control guest and employee access and a web-based platform for managing this. Our goal is in our name: we want to be the one method of ingress globally.
Why did you develop Ingress One?
I thought: I have an app for taxis, for boarding passes and even for laundry. Why don't I have an app for building entry?
Many companies are still using books, which is very much ‘pseudo security'. At the front desk you could give any name and get a badge. Some have complex access systems, but there's been no modern software innovation. With our system we authenticate you on a single platform and we know you are who you say you are.
Tell us how you got your business off the ground.
I used my past experiences of building a company to learn from and had my wife, who is one of the most senior women in her industry, as a strong source of inspiration by my side.
On a more practical level, I benefited from a government-backed startup loan, and I started the company with a number of anchor clients ensuring we had revenue from day one.
What technology do you use?
There are three main components to Ingress One. An iOS and Android app for end users is where you get sent building passes, access locks and to invite others to meetings.
Then there is a tablet app that a reception or front of house would use to check in guests. It can scan your mobile pass, or let you sign in directly. Lastly we have a web platform that customers use to manage their buildings.
What level of funding have you received so far?
Well, none really. The business took out a Startup Loan to help early cash flow, but that's small, below £10,000. Since then it's grown through good old customer sales.
Are you based in an incubator or startup centre?
We are based in a technology accelerator in London, which we'll ‘graduate' from in January.
After that we're hoping to continue the relationship started with Cisco through the BIG Awards by being involved with the IDEA centre in Tech City, London.
What challenges have you encountered to date?
Nothing beyond what every small business owner faces. After starting my first web business I raised a couple of rounds of funding, but the business folded.
I learned from that to look at people who have toiled away on a startup for a long time and then they become an overnight success in their eighth year. It's about realising it can take a lot longer than you think.
What's been the biggest highlight of your business so far?
Validation. To go through a competitive process at the Cisco BIG Awards with other businesses helps give validation to the long-term potential of the business.
And the opportunity to work with Cisco directly was one of the key reasons for applying. Having the big names next to yours really helps build up that early-stage momentum.
What does your company do to relax or have fun after a busy day?
What did you do before starting up?
Before Ingress One I ran another tech startup. We raised a couple of rounds of funding for that, and went through a leading London-based accelerator programme.
Although it didn't work out, I learned a lot of lessons that I have applied to this business.
I've actually wanted to run my own business since school. After studying Physics at Oxford, I did some IT outsourcing with a friend. Then I tried my hand at growing the manufacturing and sales side of a fashion business.
However, fashion wasn't for me, so I became a strategy consultant, which I did for five years before leaving to start my own web business.
What are your favourite and worst things about running your own startup?
Favourite: solving problems. Worst: solving problems. The type of problem being solved is generally different.
If you could emulate the success of another startup, which would it be?
I'd be very happy if we emulated a British startup like Huddle, the collaboration company. They've grown into an international business with strong revenues and a great product.
It would have to be Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He was a successful business person as well as an innovator.
Do you benefit from startup communities and related networking?
Very much so. First there is the general support. Running a startup is hard. There can be tricky problems to solve and having the network helps find solutions when those problems occur.
Then there is the customer development side. The startup community is generally very helpful in making intros, trying new products and generally helping other startups in their early growth phases.
Could the government and technology industry do more to support UK startups?
I think the government has already done a lot. For instance I benefited directly from a Startup Loan, and the small business National Insurance relief was very welcome.
When looking at funding the SEIS scheme has certainly unlocked a wave of new investors, and EIS is generally a great incentive scheme for investors in startups.
In my opinion if the government keeps doing what it has been doing, it'll be more than enough to support growth.
Perhaps the one area it could look at is some form of encouragement to big business to work with startups. Winning big business customers can be transformative for startups, so that would be a very interesting area to explore.
If you want to take part in the V3 Startup Spotlight contact Roland Moore-Colyer.
Previous startups under the spotlight have ranged from cyber security firm SQR Systems and 3D mapping platform developer eeGeo, to social listening app Twizoo and mobile data security and management firm Wandera.
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