Normally, duplicating a key would require an expensive trip to the locksmith, but New York-based KeyMe — which was founded in 2012 by Greg Marsh, former director of finance at auto tech company Aperia Technologies — hopes to change the paradigm with a network of key-scanning kiosks. To this end, the company today announced that it’s raised $35 million in funding from Brentwood Associates, bringing its total raised to around $200 million following a $50 million debt financing round led by BlackRock last year.
Marsh said the fresh funds will further KeyMe’s goal to expand to 10,000 locations in the coming months as its customer base grows to more than 10 million people. “We’re building a new type of robotics and AI company to challenge the customer experience standards in the $12 billion a year locksmith industry,” he said in a statement. “We are excited to work with the Brentwood team to expand our services to build the most trusted brand in the locksmith industry.”
KeyMe offers key duplication and locksmith services at over 3,000 locations in retailers across 49 states (up from 2,300 locations and 46 states as of April 2019), including Albertsons, Autozone, Bed Bath & Beyond, Giant Eagle, Ikea, Kmart, Kroger, Menard’s Rite Aid, Sears and Kmart, and 7-Eleven. It claims its technology is unique in its ability to copy the “majority” of office, residential, and vehicle transponder and RFID keys on the market in under 30 seconds (it supports over 85% of all automotive keys), and in its mobile-first and cloud-based approach to digital key scanning and storage. With the KeyMe app for iOS and Android, users can save, copy, and share keys via email or text, and choose from over 100 designs.
Here’s how the kiosks work: Customers insert a key, swipe their fingerprint, and let proprietary computer vision and machine learning algorithms get to work. The resulting 3D image of the key’s teeth is used to create a new key, which is either automatically cut on-site or shipped via standard mail within three to five days. The whole shebang costs just a fraction of what a dealer or professional locksmith might charge — about 70% less on average, or between $20 to $60. And KeyMe claims it has a “single digit percent” error rate compared with the industry’s 15% to 20%.
Some experts say tech like that of KeyMe and rivals MinuteKey and My Key Machine make it too easy to copy electronic access cards, enabling criminals to clandestinely gain entrance to high-security properties. But Marsh and Brentwood Associates partner Eric Reiter assert that KeyMe has mechanisms in place that can suss out key owners, including time stamps, security footage from kiosks, and payment logs.
However, the two say that KeyMe only keeps a minimal amount of identifiable data on customers — typically email addresses, key data, and mathematical representations of fingerprints — and that legal names and mailing addresses are regularly purged after key orders ship. They also claim that any data retained is divvied up and stored across three physical places, meaning a malicious actor would have to break into all three systems in order to obtain it.
“Leveraging incredibly sophisticated technology and delivering a highly differentiated, convenient and satisfying consumer experience, KeyMe is nonpareil in the locksmith industry,” Reiter said. “With a rapidly scaling footprint across the U.S., potential for international growth, and significant additional consumer and home services to come, we are excited to be partnering with such an outstanding team.”
KeyMe’s existing investors include Battery Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Questmark Partners, River Park Ventures, and White Star Capital.