Chaotic housing societies get a touch of order with new security and visitor management system
The slow and inefficient security checks at housing societies and offices have been taken for granted and nobody really pays attention to it anymore. For Abhishek Kumar and Shreyans Daga, who stay in large gated communities in Bengaluru, inefficient security checks presented an opportunity. “Security in housing societies is the most underserved or at best inadequately served area. And yet it is one space where the footfalls are continually increasing,” said Abhishek.
The two Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) graduates were still working in the corporate world when the idea began to occupy their minds. “Cities are getting more vertical with more and more gated communities. Societies see many people coming in to serve different needs, such as domestic workers, drivers, food orders and many more besides your friends and family. How can a security guard effectively maintain security and prevent a mishap given the number of people coming in and going out everyday?” said Abhishek.
Finding a solution
Keeping the challenge in mind, the duo set about looking for solutions. To think of a solution is one thing, but to execute it and create an app costs money and technical know how. So Abhishek and Shreyans roped in Vijay Arisetty and Vivaik Bharadwaaj, both former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots from the National Defence Academy (NDA) whose expertise in security matters helped them fine tune the app. With the help of modern technology, the MyGate app was launched in June 2016 in Bengaluru. The app was launched in Pune on April 15, 2018.
Simple and effective alternative
“Take a regular society as an example. Everyday you have service personnel or visitors entering the compound. The watchman stops the visitor, asks for their name and vehicle number and then calls up the concerned resident through the intercom to ask whether the person should be let inside. This process takes around eight to 10 minutes for each person. This is time consuming, irritating and not secure,” said Abhishek, who is in Pune to launch the app in the city.
The MyGate app aims to help residents overcome these hurdles. It is an automated system that is easy to use and available at your fingertips. With the MyGate app, security personnel do not need to use the intercom for every delivery person at the gate. As a resident, you key in the relevant data about the delivery you are expecting on the app, along with the expected time. When the delivery person arrives at the gate, the details will be ready with the security personnel. Security, therefore, becomes the responsibility of the resident as well as the watchman. Residents can also send invites to guests’ phones, which only needs to be shown to the watchman for entry.
“Let’s say a resident fires their domestic worker. The resident just needs to update the information on the app and the domestic worker will not be allowed to enter the premises. If the domestic worker works in other households, then their entry and exit timings will change accordingly.In addition, the employer can also give reasons as to why the person was sacked and the data will be available to others in the society,” said Abhishek.
The MyGate founders initially used funds from friends and family to develop the app and installed it in their own society. “Soon people who visited our homes, our friends, and family were impressed by the app and enrolled their societies with us,” said Abhishek Kumar, one of the founders of MyGate.
As a result, in the first year and a half following their launch, the app covered 1.5 lakh homes in 600 gated communities in Bengaluru.
The venture was further funded by Amit Somani, one of the partners of Prime Venture Capital, who was staying at one of the projects using the app. Impressed by the app, he added $ 2.5 million to the project. This money was used to fine tune the technology and spread the app to cities like Hyderabad and now, Pune.
MyGate’s revenue model is based on subscription. Depending on the size of the housing society the rates start from Rs 5,000 per month.
No more intercoms
No hardware needs to be installed for the app to function, according to Abhishek.
“We give the guard a special phone with our software loaded in to it. All members of the society have to download the app and register. With the app, it is possible for residents to keep tabs on who is entering and leaving the society premises. It helps you manage visitors, vehicles entering and leaving, staff attendance without biometrics and much more, with just a click of a button,” he added.
In Pune, MyGate was tried out in 5,000 homes for 50 days. After receiving a positive response, they decided to launch it officially in the city. They plan to establish a pan India presence and continually improve the user experience.
Amit Somani, managing partner, Prime Venture Capital that invests in three verticals, financial technology, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and digitization of India, shares his views on why MyGate was a winning investment opportunity:
“I stay at Espana, a gated community in Bengaluru. I had the opportunity to experience their app first hand in my society. What I found interesting was that it facilitated security and convenience at the same time. I could talk on the phone without being interrupted by the watchman asking if he should let someone in. This intrigued me. So I took the app to my partners Sanjay Swami and Shripati Acharya and we called the MyGate founders to make a pitch. The founders of MyGate were also very impressive. Vijay Arisetty is a Shaurya Chakra awardee who had saved countless lives during the tsunami in 2004. How many entrepreneurs with a Shaurya Chakra does one meet? The others too have a wealth of experience and knowledge.
At Prime Venture Capital we look at three things whilst investing:
1. Is the solution solving a real customer problem and is that solution better than the existing ones?
2. Is it a viable business model? It is great to have a security solution but are there enough people who would be interested in paying for it? MyGate fit the bill because they were charging between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 for a society with about 200 flats. This meant that for as little as Rs 50, a family could get a superb security solution. There are thousands, if not lakhs, of such apartments that would readily pay for such a solution.
3. Then third component in evaluating businesses is the team behind it. Great businesses require great teams and MyGate has an impeccable one.”