There are startup ideas that are good and then there are startup ideas that are superlative. So much so that you don’t have to go seeking funds. So much so that your users want to invest in your startup.
Something similar happened with myGate, a Bengaluru-based security management solution that is closing the door on security breaches at residential complexes. myGate, founded two years ago by Abhishek Kumar, Vijay Arisetty, Vivaik Bharadwaj and Shreyans Daga counts among its investors, users who had tried and tested their product before investing in it.
Sanjay Swamy, a general partner at venture capital (VC) firm Prime Venture Partners and his partner Amit Somani live in a gated community in Bengaluru that has been using the myGate app for quite some time now.
Impressed by the “peace of mind” offered by the safety features of myGate, the duo decided to invest in the startup. In October, Prime Venture Partners led a Series A funding of $9 Mn (INR 64 Cr) in myGate. In January, it had invested $2.5 Mn (INR 16 Cr) in the startup.
“The main reason we go to a gated community is that we want to feel safe. But, with so many external parties visiting complexes these days, we should feel confident that whoever comes inside is authorised. Having myGate gives you that confidence. This, I think, is very reassuring — it gives you peace of mind and a feeling of being secure,” says Swamy.
myGate’s solution is a no-brainer really, except that they thought of it first. It has built a mobile-based application to enable communication between security guards and residents which addresses the all-important security problem — whom to allow entry and whom to debar. The app replaces intercom and other hardware, making the communication process smoother and less intrusive.
Founded two years ago, myGate has made apartment living more secure for over 1,200 gated communities across Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, and Chennai. More than 3 Lakh security guards and residents use the app.
Managed Security, At The Swipe Of An App
There is something wrong with how visitors’ footfall is managed at gated communities in India, feels Kumar. Although security guards at most complexes maintain a visitors’ registry, unauthorised people often manage to slip through the cracks. And we can’t deny the role ecommerce and doorstep deliveries have played in upping this risk.
Some high-end communities have made significant investments in physical infrastructure such as access cards, boom barriers, biometrics, intercom, and others. Kumar says, “Even though residential communities have installed hardware to authenticate visitors, security guards aren’t able to ensure seamless management of domestic help, staff, visitors, delivery trucks, taxicabs, and other vehicles.”
Small loopholes born out of manual errors caused by unskilled guards, inefficient and time-consuming visitor authentication, and inefficient management of inbound traffic raise security concerns for residents, explains Kumar.
However, myGate has set out to change that through its app, which provides residents “peace of mind” by offering them a real-time view into who is entering the community and absolute control to allow or deny entry to the visitor.
“What residents of gated communities want is that whoever is inside is authorised and authenticated. That is the reason the myGate is placed and while this is happening, we don’t compromise with the convenience,” says Kumar.
The myGate app has been designed with easy-to-use features, keeping in mind the fact that it will be used by people across demographics and education levels — from security guards, children and senior citizens to tech-unsavvy people. Which is why, 70% of its user interface (UI) contains numbers, similar to the dial pad of a smartphone.
Residents can add multiple users in the family and are interlinked with myGate’s dashboard, which the security guards have access to.
A lot of research has gone into the app. Based on its data analysis, the startup has categorised the types of people visiting gated communities:
- Support staff: maid, cook, nanny, driver, car cleaner, beautician, plumber, gardeners and other maintenance staff, who visit on a regular basis
- On-demand service delivery: Executives from Swiggy, Ola, Flipkart, Amazon, and other ecommerce companies
- Relatives and friends
For the support staff, a digital profile can be created on the app and each staff is provided with a ‘unique citizen code’. So, when a maid reaches the gate, she provides the code to the guard and her digital profile will appear on the app, thereby informing the resident about her check-in through a notification.
For the second category of people visiting the gated community, options like ‘Pre-approve’ and ‘Leave the parcel at the gate’ are also available. But, most of the time, the guard punches the details of the delivery guy — contact, company, vehicle number, contact person, flat number, etc — into the app and the details are forwarded through a notification to the concerned resident. The procedure is similar while allowing guests (friends, relatives, and others) to enter.
However, if the resident does not respond, the guard falls back on the traditional way of communication via the intercom, which too can be done through the app itself.
During checkout, the guard simply swipes the screen.
myGate also assists residents welfare associations (RWAs) in managing their society accounting, payments from residents, help desk, and other value adds. It also enables visitor car parking management without compromising on the space reserved for other residents.
The startup has a ‘quasi enterprise’ marketing approach, which means that the users of its product are the individuals staying in gated communities but the decisions are made by the elected members of the RWA.
Another Mumbai-based security app, Biizlo, has also launched a similar service that has converted the manual process of registering visitors’ entry into a digital format. Launched in 2017 by Nishant Katyal, the startup in November this year raised $500K (INR 3.5 Cr) from a Mumbai-based security firm Eagle Group. It also plans to expand its services across gated communities in Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad.
Is Your Gated Community myGate Trained?
Training of security guards is a big focus area for myGate. Once a gated community gives the go-ahead for the deployment of the app, myGate’s operations team trains both day-shift and night-shift guards at the complex on handling the myGate application.
“Now, it is becoming sort of a standard for security agencies to say that ‘my guards are myGate trained’,” says Kumar.
Before the product launch in October 2016, the founders spent a lot of time trying to understand the psyche and education level of security guards, did a time analysis of their tasks, and based on these insights, the solution was designed. myGate is currently available in English and Hindi.
The training of security guards, including their supervisors, can be completed within 3-7 days depending on the size of the gated community. Kumar says that training the guards on the app is not that difficult as most of them already have exposure to smartphones and their education levels are generally between classes VI-X.
The guards are provided with a separate dashboard on the myGate app to handle visitors’ entries. Besides teaching them to authenticate visitors authorised by the residents to enter the community, the startup also trains them in handling features such as e-intercom, vehicle management, clubhouse access management, etc.
The first onboarding of the entire support team for a gated community on the app is done by myGate’s team. Later, the trained security management supervisor does the onboarding of guards who join subsequently. myGate also commits to train the guards as and when required.
myGate: Knocking On Gated Communities In Delhi-NCR
In Bengaluru alone, myGate is being used by more than 300 security agencies, managing visitors’ footfall 24×7 across 700 housing communities, claims Kumar.
Residents at Sobha Dew Flowers, a Bengaluru-based real estate apartment, have been using the app for over two years. All security guards here are myGate trained. Nalini Shivkumar, a member of this housing association, says, “Initially, it was difficult to introduce the myGate application to the residents — it took 2-3 months to convince them. But people voluntarily started using the app once they realised its useful. Residents of all the 231 apartments in the community now use myGate.”
Kishore Gopinath from Sobha Daffodil in Bengaluru’s HSR Layout residential apartment estimates that currently, about 99% residents in its 432 apartments are using the app and that 77% of the security guards at the complex are myGate trained. He says, “Visitors are not allowed to enter the community without entering the details in the myGate app.”
Last week (November 29), the founders launched myGate for gated communities in the Delhi- National Capital Region (NCR). The app is being deployed across premier housing communities such as DLF Crest, DLF Magnolias, Aralias, EMAAR Palm Springs, and Supertech Capetown.
The founders estimate that there are over 5k gated communities in the NCR. They claim to have already secured over 8,000 apartments in Gurugram and plan to add about 300K apartments in the Delhi-NCR region by April 2018. The startup currently has a 15-member team managing the operation.
Further, myGate plans to foray into Mumbai by February 2019. It is also surveying the market in cities such as Cochin and Kolkata and plans to add more vernacular languages such as Marathi, Kannada, and Tamil on its app.
With urban Indian lifestyles becoming exceedingly hectic and erratic, people in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities are increasingly opting for the facilities and convenience of managed living in gated communities. Security is one of the most appealing features of such residential complexes. Fuelled by this demand, the number of gated communities in India is rapidly increasing, resulting in the need for digital, managed security services.
According to a GrantThornton and FICCI 2015 report, the private security services market in India was $5.6 Bn (INR 40K Cr) in 2014 and is expected to reach $11 Bn (INR 80K Cr) by the year 2020, providing employment to more than 70 Lakh people.
As RWAs increasingly do away their tunnel-visioned way of handling visitors’ entry to adopt the technology-enabled method, myGate is making ripples in how residents’ safety is measured and promises to keep residents of gated communities safe as long as the walls remain unbreached.
[The story has been written with inputs from Prakriti Singhania]
myGate was part of the 2018 edition of the most coveted list of India’s most innovative startups — 42Next by Inc42.