NineID's Journey: The Path to Building a Ground-Breaking Access Control Company with Roy Jeunen

Written by

Lotte Geldermans

Published on

June 23, 2023
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NineID, one of Pitchdrive's portfolio companies, has recently raised its new round of $2.6 million to seamlessly bridge the digital and physical worlds of corporate security. Last week,team Pitchdrive had an insightful conversation with Roy Jeunen, diving into NineID's journey. This article offers a behind-the-scenes look at the co-founders' initial meeting, the ideation process, their first steps towards execution, major hurdles, and their strategic investor selection. It wraps up with insights into their early interaction with the US market and their strategies to boost the company's growth.

How did you meet with your co-founder?

Around ten years ago, fate brought Frederik and me together when we were both pursuing a second management degree. We instantly connected due to our shared entrepreneurial aspirations and passion for starting businesses. As luck would have it, we ended up collaborating on a final project for a helicopter company, which deepened our friendship. Since then, we've stayed in touch, always discussing new ideas and potential ventures.

How did you come up with the idea of NineID?

The seed of our idea started to grow when I was working as a freelance innovation manager. I faced a significant challenge while digitizing access control in a port environment, dealing with paperwork and security risks. I shared my concerns with Frederik, who faced similar challenges in his work in helicopter services, airports, and offshore oil and gas industries.

Combining our experiences, we realized that our solution could address access control problems in various industrial sectors. This revelation encouraged us to embark on a journey to develop an innovative access control system that would redefine the industry.

What were your first steps toward the execution of the idea?

Recognizing the strength of our partnership, I quickly reached out to Frederik to refine and expand our idea together. We conducted pilot projects in the port, exploring access flows, contractor management, and visitor management. Existing market solutions didn't meet the unique requirements of industrial sites, so we made the bold decision to develop our own hardware-enabled software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.

To scale our venture from scratch, Frederik and I actively sought initial funding. We were fortunate to participate in the European Space Agency's prestigious business incubation program, which provided resources and validated our solution's potential in the space industry. This marked the transition from a part-time commitment to full-time pursuit of our entrepreneurial dream. Additional funding, including a government grant, supported our research and development efforts.

What was the biggest challenge in developing your hardware?

One of the most significant challenges we faced was seamlessly integrating hardware and software components. Access control companies lacked software focus, while software companies in the field lacked hardware expertise. Committed to delivering a complete digital flow and a modern access control solution, we made the audacious choice to develop our own hardware completely in-house. This strategic decision set us apart and attracted customers who recognized the importance of a hardware-enabled solution. By keeping most hardware development in-house, we retained control, ensuring top-notch security and safety.

What type of supporting cast did you look for?

Understanding the importance of a cohesive team, Frederik and I dedicated significant time and effort to recruiting individuals who shared our vision. We also sought guidance from experienced entrepreneurs who could help us navigate the challenges of scaling an enterprise SaaS startup. Respected figures within the startup ecosystem, such as Lorenz Bogaert provided invaluable advice and mentorship from the beginning.

In our quest for investors, we found Pitchdrive, an exceptional team of entrepreneurs with expertise in building SAAS enterprise solutions. This includes Jonas Dhaenens with strategic insights, Boris Bogaert with day-to-day growth mentoring, and Koen Christiaens with great product insights & hacks. Most recently, we attracted business angels with deep industrial knowledge and a profound understanding of our target customers. We made sure to include a diverse group of highly entrepreneurial investors who built ventures from scratch who not only provided crucial financial support but also brought domain-specific expertise vital for scaling our business.

Can you tell me more about your new US adventure?

Recognizing the immense potential of the US market, with its focus on industry, safety, and security, Frederik and I initially planned to enter the American market in 2024. However, an unexpected customer opportunity emerged in 2022, compelling us to establish a presence earlier than anticipated. This experience served as valuable market validation, reinforcing our decision to pursue further expansion. We recently established an office, initiated legal processes to establish a legal entity, and started reaching out to US-based companies. Our goal is to grow our customer base and achieve widespread adoption of our innovative access control solution.

In a recent funding round, our company successfully raised capital, welcoming esteemed investors to our ranks. These investors possess expertise in hardware scaling, internationalization, enterprise sales, and industry-specific knowledge, pooling their resources and support to bolster our vision. The infusion of funds will enable us to continue revolutionizing access control, providing secure and efficient solutions to clients worldwide.

Do you have any last words?

Our journey, marked by collaboration, perseverance, and the pursuit of knowledgeable investors, showcases the transformative power of disruptive ideas and strategic partnerships. From our fortuitous meeting during our management studies to successful funding rounds and international expansion, Frederik and I hope that our story inspires aspiring entrepreneurs. By developing a hardware-enabled SaaS solution, building a robust team, and attracting investors with pertinent industry expertise, we have laid a solid foundation for our innovative access control company. As we press forward to become a leading player in the access control industry, our journey highlights the limitless potential within disruptive ideas and the value of strategic partnerships.

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