You may have heard of Keyo. You may have seen the initial round of press the company did in 2017 — roughly two years after its founding. Or maybe you saw it pop up in 2020, riding the wave of news surrounding Amazon’s lukewarmly received handheld scanner technology. You might have been wondering what exactly is going on with the Chicago-based firm in the meantime.
“I think we were probably a little naïve in the beginning to underestimate the true complexity of this endeavor,” admits co-founder/CEO Jaxon Klein. “There’s a lot that goes into building an identity solution on a global scale. We have been in deep engineering mode for several years now. We’ve invested the last five years and millions of dollars into building what we truly believe is the world’s first biometric identity ecosystem.”
It is not a unique case in this regard. And it can mean your organization is on the right track if members of the press are willing to discuss your technology at such an early stage. But the kind of technology Keyo is working on is something that’s important to get right, given the security, privacy and financial implications of biometrics.
“That early press coverage was us prematurely saying, ‘hey, look what we’re doing,'” Klein adds. “It gets down to what we’re really doing and the reasons why no other company is competing for the space and how long and hard the road is. Then we stepped back from that and said, “Okay, we’ve got a lot to build, and we need to actually implement this in the real world, work with real customers, work with real users, and make sure we’re doing it right.”
This week, the company has a lot to show for that job. Fueled by a total of $7 million in seed funding, Keyo Network was previously in beta. It is a combination of hardware and software designed to provide palm scanning to a wide range of different markets and services. Today, it’s announcing the Keyo Wave handheld scanner hardware, the Keyo mobile app, the third-party partner program, and the Keyo Identify Cloud, which “allows users to instantly and privately identify themselves based on a simple scan of their hand at any Keyo participating business network.’
Keyo’s team remains small, with 33 remote employees, though Klein says the firm hires about one employee a week. Not huge growth, though he notes with a wink that at least the startup is bucking the current brutal trend in startup land.
“One of the things we’ve gotten really good at is deploying a scalable supply chain. Most recently, we deployed 15,000 devices and manage our supply chain in-house. Even before the pandemic, we were building our supply chain in North America — primarily in the US. We have built a lot of institutional knowledge and capabilities around managing and expanding supply chains. We are truly unique in the hardware space – or part of a very small cohort – that designs and builds our own devices that are fully distributed.”
The idea of replacing more traditional payment methods like cards – or even phones – with manual scanning will continue to attract its share of critics. This will only increase as massive corporations like Amazon embrace such technologies, but there is no doubt that the interest is there, at least with the corporations fueling such a shift.