Slickspaces solves the complicated, time-consuming process of letting a guest into a vacation or business trip rental. Their software system allows for guest entry without the use of keys or fobs, allowing the property owner to deliver guest entry remotely.
“If a problem is large and complex, break it down into small pieces, and start solving each part. A large and complex problem is just many smaller, complex problems.” – CEO Michael Driedger’s favourite piece of advice.
Michael Driedger, CEO of Slickspaces, used to travel a significant amount. Prior to heading up the software startup, he was a green building consultant, requiring him to make frequent trips to the Middle East. After completing a 36-hour trip, the last thing he wanted to do was stand in line for a hotel key.
“I wanted an express check-in that would allow me to get a code on my phone, and walk right into my room. And when I stayed at Airbnbs, I didn’t want to worry about when someone would arrive with the key. That’s the inspiration fort Slickspaces,” he says.
“Our software gives the guest a 4-digit password, valid only for the duration of their stay. The password is used to get past the intercom and through a suite door, using a smart lock.”
The venture was started in December, 2016 with good friend and co-founder Mathew Hunter. The biggest challenges so far have been solving for complex intercom systems, which can disable a guest’s keypad.
The solution? A voice recognition system that Mathew was working on to let his cleaner into his building remotely. It allows for someone to speak their 4-digit password, enabling them to enter without the need for someone to receive the call and press 6 or 9 to open the door.
“I worked pretty much 16 hour days for a few months to solve the intercom problem and some complex associated infrastructure challenges. Having a startup is a little like having a newborn baby. You don’t sleep, you don’t see your friends, it’s always calling out for your attention and only someone with a newborn understands what you’re going through. Ultimately, like raising kids it’s painful but totally worth it.” says Mathew Hunter, CTO.
In terms of competition, there are a few smaller companies entering the automation space for vacation rentals. Until a few years ago, home automation was mostly focused on security solutions for high-end properties.
“We are the first to tackle the urban Airbnb market that Keycafe tackled three years ago with their lockbox solution,” comments Michael. “What keeps everyone out of the market is the numerous building-related problems to solve relating to intercoms, lock types, and HVAC and lighting types,” he says.
So far, the team’s proudest accomplishment is their growth and positive customer feedback.
“Our first customers found us before we started advertising, while we were testing our solution,” comments Michael. “We were able to get our technology into 30 units before we began our social media marketing campaign, and we continue to grow mostly by word of mouth,” he says.
When asked about his first ever job, it becomes apparent that Michael’s strong work ethic didn’t happen overnight. He started out working for his father’s construction company, at 10 years old, in Saskatoon. His dad encouraged him to work hard, and take initiative to create his own accomplishments.
‘My dad would say I could I should always be standing, to at least look busy. And if I was standing, I should find something to do, because otherwise he’d find me something to do, that I’d probably enjoy less,” he says.
“It was a great lesson to learn at a young age. Mathew and I are always looking for new challenges to face. It’s important not to sit back and take anything for granted.”
Michael Driedger (CEO)
Prior to founding Slickspaces, Michael Driedger was Founder and Managing Principal of Edge Consultants Group, a green building consultancy. Michael holds a Diploma of Architectural Technology from BCIT and a BA from the University of Saskatchewan.
Mathew Hunter (CFO)
Mathew is CFO and Co-Founded Slickspaces. His background is in telecommunications engineering, holding senior positions as a site administrator and as a deployment technician for VANOC. Matthew holds a Diploma in Network Telecommunications Engineering from Okanagan College.
Mark Baxter (CPO)
Prior to joining Slickspaces, Mark was Co-Founder and VP of Product & Creative for Vivity Labs, which was acquired by Rosetta Stone in 2013. He was also Founder & President of Gnosis Games, which was was acquired by Threewave Software. Mark holds a BA from UBC and a Diploma in Electronic Game Art from the Centre for Digital Imaging and Sound.