SlickSpaces won the 2017 BCIC $35,000 3rd prize package for their technology that helps guests enter vacation and rental properties remotely. Since then, they’ve scaled out their business, doubled their team, and have gone from an MVP to a fully scaled out product.
Interview with Michael Driedger, CEO.
What’s your company’s quick elevator pitch — what do you do, and why are you passionate about it?
SlickSpaces automates guest entry in a safe and secure way. Once you’ve done that in an IoT ecosystem approach, there’s so many cool guest experience, indoor air quality and energy saving things you can layer on top.
Describe what stage your startup was at when you entered. Did you expect to compete for the top prizes?
When we entered the competition, we were pre-funded and not even a year into operations. We had a few customers – early Beta customers – but that was about it. Our MVP was built, but we hadn’t scaled out our product. Since then, we’ve doubled the size of our team.
We found the competition online and thought it would be useful in our process as we worked through our investor pitch deck and our product.
How have you used your prize money / in-kind services?
We put it all back into the business – we took our MVP and created a scalable product. We took all of our code out of Larval, which we had patched together for the MVP, and put it into Elixir. Now we can add thousands and thousands of doors — doors are our key KPI right now.
Any updates or successes you can share winning third prize? How did the competition help or contribute to your success?
It was definitely useful in regards to getting us to focus on one thing, and one thing only. The mentors got us to focus on our core MVP and not get distracted by other things to build on top – the cool things you want to add, once you have the door and guest entry figured out. Things like energy setbacks, indoor air quality improvements and other things that make things better. We were also interested in how people can talk through Google Home or Alexa to their unit and turn things on and off – those are features that we’ve started to add now, but for the competition, we kept our pitch very focused on our core product of entry.
The mentors really helped us to do well in the competition, but the things that you do to win a competition are not the same things you do to win customers and grow your company. It was a good process, but it wasn’t something that allowed us to win customers or to finalize funding with investors.
The prize money was also helpful, as were the in-kind donations – we used the Ernst & Young help right away.
What was the best feedback from a mentor, juror or fellow competitor that you received?
We received good feedback from our mentors. One of the jurors asked us how we were going to account for the on-boarding time for each new door, knowing it can get pretty sticky and complicated. We had thought it through before, but that comment made us come back to in for further analysis.
As a software company that has hardware, building out relationships with hardware suppliers is our number one focus, so we can decouple from the hardware and focus on the software. We went through the same sort of pain and were bringing it up – we heard it, we were thinking about it, and that was really useful.
What tips do you have for this year’s BCIC-New Ventures competitors?
While numbers matter (KPIs, burn, revenue etc), it’s more important that you sell the company’s vision in your materials. If you have something unique to offer and a vision for how you will get there, the numbers become background for something that a person believes will succeed.