Maybe you’ve heard of it keyo. You may have seen the first press round the company did in 2017 – about two years after its founding. Or maybe you saw it crop up in 2020, on the wave of news surrounding Amazon’s lukewarm reception of handheld scanner technology. You may have wondered what exactly was going on with the company in the meantime.
“I think we were probably a little naive in the beginning to underestimate the true complexity of this venture,” admits co-founder/CEO Jaxon Klein. “There’s a lot that goes into building an identity solution on a global scale. We’ve been in deep engineering mode for several years now. We have invested the past five years and millions of dollars in building what we truly see as the first global ecosystem for biometric identities.”
In that respect, it is not a unique case. And maybe mean that your organization is on the right track, if the press is willing to talk about your technologies at such an early stage. But the kind of technology Keyo has worked on is the kind of thing that has to be just right, given the security, privacy and financial implications of its biometrics.
“That early press coverage was that we prematurely said ‘hey, look what we’re doing,'” Klein adds. “It settled into what we were really doing and the reasons there were no other companies competing for the space and how long and difficult the road down was. We then pulled back from that and said, “Okay, we have a lot to build and we need to start implementing this in the real world, working with real customers, working with real users and making sure we do it right.”
This week, the company has something to show for that work. Powered by a total of $7 million in seed funding, the Keyo Network had previously been in beta. It is a combination of hardware and software designed to bring palm scanning to a wide variety of different markets and services. Today, it announces the Keyo Wave handheld scanner hardware, the Keyo mobile app, the third-party affiliate program, and the Keyo Identity Cloud, which allow “users to instantly and privately identify themselves based on a simple scan of their hand at any company participating in the Keyo network.”
The Keyo team remains small, with 33 remote workers, although Klein says the company hires about one worker per week. Not huge growth, although he winks at the fact that the startup is at least going against the current brutal trend in startup land.
“One of the things we’ve gotten really good at is the scalable supply chain implementation. We recently deployed 15,000 devices and we manage our supply chain internally. Even before the pandemic, we built our supply chain in North America — largely in the US. We have built up a lot of institutional knowledge and capabilities around operating and expanding supply chains. We’re really unique in terms of hardware — or part of a very small cohort — that designs and builds their own devices, which are fully distributed.”
The idea of replacing more traditional payment methods like cards – or even phones – with hand scanning will continue to attract its share of critics. That will only increase as big companies like Amazon adopt such technologies, but there’s little doubt that the interest is there, at least with the companies fueling such changes.