Nebraska startup Geokey closes $2M seed round

Geokey recently closed a $2M round of seed funding that the company will use to expand its mobile access control platform to more apartment complexes around the U.S. over the next 18 months.


Nebraska-based startup Geokey has raised $2 million in funding – money that Geokey’s leaders say will let it expand its mobile access control platform to more apartment complexes.

The seed round was led by 29SC Ventures, LLC, the venture arm of real estate investment firm 29th Street Capital in Chicago.

Geokey provides software and hardware solutions for access control in the residential rental real estate market, allowing property managers and renters to lock and unlock their doors using their smartphones. The company works with properties in nearly 40 states and five countries, according to Geokey founder and CEO Brandon Peterson.

The startup has now raised $4 million since it was founded in 2018, Peterson said. 

The startup’s leaders believe 29th Street Capital is the right strategic partner because they’re in the apartment business, managing nearly 20,000 multifamily units around the country, Peterson said. Geokey’s technology will begin rolling out to some of those properties over the next 18 months.

“Geokey’s patented location-based technology, coupled with their hardware-agnostic platform, provides owners with the opportunity to retrofit existing [real estate] assets in a significantly more cost-effective manner, as well as rethink and eliminate certain hardware packages on new [real estate] developments,” said Mark Chrisman, Managing Principal, 29SC Ventures, LLC in a press release.

“We are pleased to bring our capital, existing and developing assets and our team to partner strategically with Geokey in the access control space.” 

Need a refresher on how venture capital works? Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Venture Capital Guide for definitions of key terms and funding stages on SPN.

What Geokey Does

Geokey builds cloud-based software that integrates with other manufacturers and partners so that property managers and residents can control access to their units remotely. The software doesn’t require a wifi connection or specific hardware. Geokey’s patented technology leverages your phone’s location services in order to unlock gates, doors, garages, elevators and other points of access for residents, members or employees.

Geokey primarily serves multifamily residential properties and multi-unit dwellings, but the company also has a presence in manufacturing facilities, gyms and other types of buildings, Peterson said. Geokey’s solution increases security, he said, because it eliminates the need for keys or key fobs, which can be lost or stolen. And provides live data on the backend to show property managers who is entering, when and where. It also allows for immediate granting or removal of access from anywhere.

How Geokey Started

Peterson, a native of Oakland, Nebraska, said he came up with the idea for Geokey when he owned a 24-hour gym. He realized that members were sharing their key fobs and allowing unauthorized access to the facility when he wasn’t on-site. 

“I’m losing security, money; there’s no analytics. This is just a problem. And so that’s where I got the idea for Geokey,” Peterson recalled. 

“What’s the one thing we carry on us? It’s our phones. Why can’t that be the key?”

Peterson said after researching he couldn’t find a solution that didn’t require a specific hardware to implement it, so he decided to create one.

“I wanted to be the Uber of access control…agnostic,” he said. “I don’t want to create [hardware]. I just want to control all of these different [hardware] solutions. And then you can customize the approach to properties. So that’s what we did.”

What’s Next

Peterson said he doesn’t intend to use the latest funding to grow the 35-person team. Instead he’ll ask the existing team to double down on business development and sales efforts and support customer success. He sees this as a pathway to expand to existing customers’ additional properties.

Optimizing the experience for property managers and tenants is top of mind for the foreseeable future as they prepare to raise their Series A in 2024, Peterson said. 


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