The Euro coworking tour showed evidence that "the niche of coworking spaces in Europe is now at the stage of active development." Caring for the customer's convenience, coworking companies are starting to implement various technological solutions: access via ID cards, electric locks with the remote granting of digital keys, height-adjustable tables memorizing the position most convenient for the guest, smart coffee machines with coffee cup credits on smartphone, and much more.
- To notice that, I spent at least seven hours in each coworking space. And I came to the conclusion that now is the best time to implement our solution. In addition, the same trend has also been outlined in the CIS, and in Belarus in particular. About twenty small (by world standards) coworking spaces have been opened in Minsk, and large, technological ones will soon appear. We are in talks with one of them, planning to launch a pilot project.
Besides coworking spaces the guys were interested in checking the relevance of "smart" locking devices for rental housing. And they realized that the owners of apartments renting on AirBnB face similar issues.
"They have to get up at night, rush through the whole city to give keys to the guest." Sometimes the key is simply left "under the rug" - which is unsafe, - Andrei notes.
- There is one more peculiarity: Europeans speak English well, but in Belarus there is a problem of communication with foreign guests. An automated system would make life easier for both guests and the host, - Artem adds. "We saved time in case the hypothesis was not confirmed, we found out which product is needed"
Field research cost the entrepreneurs about 5 thousand dollars. They consider the cost justified: that they "saved time in case the hypothesis hadn't been confirmed, and found out what specific product the client needs."
Based on the results of the trip, the VSGate team realized that in besides coworkings and AirBnB hosts, their solution might be suitable for:
- pick-up points for online orders and post offices - boxes that can be opened using the phone. Such boxes are usually located at places with high traffic, in the subway or on the streets.
- self-service stores - an automated access solution could become part of a large smart store system.
- at smart home: the courier would be able to open the "smart lock" himself in case there is no one at home.
On June 12-13 the guys traveled to London to participate at the TechXLR8
hackathon and conference. One of the topics was the Internet of Things. The team showed a working prototype and won a prize at the hackathon, with plenty of bonuses from the organizers.
- Our startup was included in the Startup Elevate
program, which connects founders with more than 400 investors and industry representatives from the USA, Great Britain and Singapore. It promises not only investment opportunities, but also access to fast-growing markets. We received valuable contacts for further development, Artem says. "We saw shocking amounts for access automation by competitors: 50 to 70 thousand for a 20-door solution!"
The development itself has been underway for a little over three months. The application is a hybrid written in React Native.
"We also have low-level components: microcontrollers that we ordered in China and programmed ourselves using C language.
The tasks connected with search and purchasing of components, as well as working with partners and potential customers was undertaken by Andrei - he had experience working with hardware startups RocketBody and Rozum Robotics.