6th of august 2011, Just a cup of coffee.
In a little Dutch city called Schiedam Xander Heijman and myself we’re enjoying a cup of coffee while having a what soon would turn out to be quite a game changing conversation about the Cloud, entrepreneurship, personal drive, Locks and lots of other things. After three hours of drinking coffee and talking we had enough, let’s turn thoughts into reality! Since when did the key exist, really? From the middle ages! We decided to start a new company that would float on the changing world of keys, locks and technology!
At that moment I was a company director at a multinational and a known name in the world of access control. I was used to big and specialized projects, mainly in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. I considered myself lucky, but not necessarily happy in that role.
Xander, like a true ‘Rotterdammer’ is an entrepreneur from his twenties and already (had) owned IT- and Internet companies. Entrepreneurship is the best thing that ever happened to him; a lot of hard work but in exchange the freedom to change whatever you want and do whatever you feel is necessary to make your business work.
My domain knowledge and Xanders knowledge how to build technology from the bottum up felt like a great collaboration between the two of us.
20th October 2011, Clay Solutions B.V. is born!
This was the time to question the foundation of this freshly founded company. It’s not the product we focused on first but the Why, What and How.
Why do we want to build this company? Because we believe that mechanical locks definitely will disappear and the number of locks globally is just massive
We want to make a great, innovative solution for the world of access control that speaks to everybody. From consumer to entrepreneur. Beautiful, convenient, fun and above all safe and payable
We want to work with a relative small team of highly skilled people and want to be flexible and have fun. Everything we don’t believe in we will discard. So no conference culture, dull grey three-piece suits or spreadsheets! We want to think- and be different from the established order, work very hard and have loads of FUN!
22nd February 2012, Prototypes and coffee cans
Xander and I realized we needed a partner that makes the physical locks; this was certainly not our expertise. We made a plan to first make the prototype and then present it to a selection of big potential partners who can contribute a ton of knowledge.
At own strength we developed a prototype. Through my network I received a lock from Salto Systems, a locking company in Spain. We decided to use it for the prototype. The necessary electronics were purchased and we put them in a basic Illy coffee can and developed a demo. After three months we couldn’t believe our eyes, it really worked the way we had envisioned it! We had a lock, a coffee can with electronics, a KPN SIMcard, a website, an app which you can actually open the door with from a distance, receive a text message when the door opens and even the possibility to alter the rights instantly so you are able to block the door!
The next step was to test if the prototype would work abroad since the first demo was at Salto Systems HQ, which is in Spain. I drove to a restaurant in Belgium and convinced the waitress I had a very important meeting in there the upcoming month, and I needed to test my technical solution. The tests turned out great, everything worked like it was supposed to.
The full management team at Salto Systems was on the 22nd of February in 2012. When we arrived at Salto Systems HQ, we got welcomed with open arms and got to present the prototype in detail. End result: Salto is in, and not just as technology partner but as shareholder as well! The market is ready to be shaken with this innovative solution and quickly the development of the actual product starts!
One year after the three-hour coffee break, we find ourselves in our brand-new office in Amsterdam and the Clay adventure really has started.
Fast forward to 2017
We are now a team of twenty-two and growing. The product obviously has made massive jumps forward and so did our customer base. Meanwhile we are a happy supplier to highly respectable companies globally and hosting millions of door openings each year. Hard to believe how fast things can evolve.
Our team members are called Bricks; together we form our house Clay, a solid base of skilled and passionate people who embrace the keyless life.
Of course I could tell you more, but you have to find out yourself! Keep following our awesome journey and become a part of our keyless revolution!
Do you have what it takes to become a brick? Check out our latest openings: https://clay.homerun.co/