Phil Dumas, founder of UniKey, took a college course project and turned it into the largest smart lock company in the world, by way of the UCF Business Incubation Program.
"We're actually the largest smart lock company in the world, and what is really interesting about that is we don’t build or sell any smart locks," he said. "We've taken a platform approach. Our mission is to replace the entire keychain with your phone in a more convenient way than a key."
UniKey's CORE platform utilizes a hybrid of pre-built solutions and custom services that allows integration of smart access technology into lock makers' products.
"We offer team, technology and timeline. Our partners bring manufacturing and branding. We create this one-plus-one solution that’s best for the market," Dumas explained. "We have 15 partnerships world wide and seven are number one in their market and geography."
Dumas's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to improve your idea via thorough feedback vetting.
"One of the best things you can do is pitch and communicate your idea to others," he said. "My personal belief is that the benefits far outweigh the risk. Too many entrepreneurs don’t pitch their idea because they think it will get stolen, but they miss out on the feedback. Don’t worry so much about the idea getting stolen. Worry about getting the feedback and doing everything you can do to get it out there. The majority of people want to help you. Pitch early and pitch often because you never know who'll you'll meet."
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