By Eric Peterson | Aug 29, 2015
South Jordan, Utah
South Jordan, Utah
After working together on the product team at ZAGG, Gibbs and Gengler struck out on their own in 2013 with FŪZ Designs.
"Our first product was a charging unit," says Gibbs. Several iterations of that product, the EverDock, came out before the duo seized on the company's new namesake.
They wanted to break out of the mobile accessories category, because of its saturation and short product development cycle, and came up with a smart Bluetooth padlock called the Noke. Now that's taken over as the company's focus, and its name.
"We decided to make the portable lock smart . . . using your smartphone as your key," Gibbs says. "It's replacing things and eventually it's going to be replacing our keys."
"Consumers love the gadget," he adds. "They love using their smartphone to control things. One of the killer features is being able to coordinate access with others."
The company raised more than $600,000 with a Kickstarter campaign for the Noke in summer 2014, obliterating expectations. "Our target was $100,000," says Gibbs. "We've since pre-sold 15,000 locks and we're currently meeting with retailers."
Shipping by September, the $69.99 Noke units will represent the first smart padlocks on the market. Next up is a U-lock for bicyclists, featuring an accelerometer to sound an alarm when the bike unexpectedly jostled.
The company is working with a big padlock manufacturer in China. "We moved to a factory that makes 1 million padlocks a month," he says, noting that overseas manufacturing is a near necessity. "We have years of experience managing manufacturing. We're currently doing a lot of the shipping from our location in Utah."
Noke will soon supersede the parent company. "FŪZ will continue to exist," Gibbs says. "It's more of a brand than a product."
Gibbs says that he's happy about the pivot, because mobile product development was all about responding to a constantly changing roadmap, and Noke is notably different. "We have a roadmap that's clear: making more locks -- bigger locks, smarter locks, locks that are connected."
Challenges: "It's a brand new product," says Gibbs. "That means taking a lot of time to perfect it and get it right. We designed tooling for every part." He says the product was initially expected to ship in February 2015. "That's been our biggest challenge: just getting it out the door."
Opportunities: The enterprise market. Gibbs says the company is developing more robust software for the front and back end to offer companies smart lock "geo-fence” systems. "You can track who, when, and where your lock was used," he explains. "There's no hassle of here's your keys, we're going to need them back or rekey."
It will likely require a marketing push. "Right now the consumer market is chasing us," he says. "The enterprise market, we might have to chase it."
Needs: "Our greatest needs are staff and keeping up with demand," says Gibbs. In 2014, the company "will easily double."