Opening a door with your mobile phone. A few months ago, the French start-up Openways completed a first round of financing of “several million euros”, between 2 and 5 according to our information. The round was led by LMA Invest, a structure of ten or so business angels from Le Monde Après, a freelance consulting company. The historical investors, other business angels, including some from the Femme Business Angels network, who had invested a little over €1m at the end of 2009, are also participating, for a third, in this round organised by Pax Corporate Finance. The four founders, including the CEO Pascal Métivier, formerly of Swedish company Assa Abloy, the world’s leading locksmith, remain the majority shareholders.
The telephone transformed into a sound key
Since its creation in October 2009, Openways has chosen to tackle the European and American markets simultaneously. Although the head office is in Feucherolles, in the Yvelines region, the young company has a subsidiary in Connecticut and representatives in Chicago, Las Vegas and Atlanta. Its solution is being tested by Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and Hilton hotels, as well as by the Scandinavian hotel group Choice. Their guests receive a message on their phone inviting them to dial a telephone number in front of their room. A unique and ephemeral sound is then emitted, triggering the opening of the door. Openways manufactures the sound receiver in its Bidart workshop in the Basque Country, which is sold to hotels or indirectly to lock manufacturers.
A global ambition
The thirteen-strong start-up now wants to move from an experimental phase to an industrial phase. “It is a matter of proving to our customers that our solution works everywhere in the world, on all types of phones and networks,” explains Pascal Métivier (photo opposite). The few million raised will therefore finance the recruitment of a sales force, the selection of partners for technical support and the deployment of the IT network. In order not to limit itself to sound-based technology, Openways, whose competitors are in New Zealand, India, Sweden and Spain, is launching a new module combining sound and NFC wireless communication.