Business Plan Challenge

With a tap, your repairman will never have to ask for your gate code again

Steven Tamayo, holds a phone with his TAP2OPEN software infront of a gathered neighbor in Boca Raton on Thursday April 25, 2019
Steven Tamayo, holds a phone with his TAP2OPEN software infront of a gathered neighbor in Boca Raton on Thursday April 25, 2019 for The Miami Herald

Let’s say you called a repairman to fix an appliance, and he’s finally on his way to your home. But you’re running late and can’t meet him. And he doesn’t know the gate code.

Two South Florida techies have solved that problem — and a whole lot of others — with a simple but powerful solution.

No, it’s not an app. It’s something much simpler: By clicking a one-timelink sent via text, you can unlock the gate from anywhere.

The solution, and the company, are called Tap2Open. The co-founders are engineers. Mark Grosberg says he treats engineering problems almost like video games — and with the same type of addiction. Steve Tamayo recently left his job running a digital design shop in Palm Beach. They are graduates of Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway program.

Their company was declared the winner in the Real Estate vertical in the 2019 Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition’s Community Track.

Grosberg, an inveterate tinkerer, said the idea was just “an itch to scratch” after starting to program geo-fencing technologies — the same ones that tell you what’s in range if you’re looking for food delivery.

He put out a Craigslist ad — yes, in the tech world, it’s still a thing — for a designer to create the interface that links the user with the technological function. Tamayo was intrigued by Grosberg’s idea — and after speaking with him, was totally sold.

“I was floored by it,” he said. “You’d think something like this would be the obvious next step in accessibility, or in gated communities. To think no one has put something solid together — that was something very surprising to me.”

The myriad applications were immediately apparent: Delivery drivers — working for firms like Uber now worth billions — and postal workers all have trouble with electronic doors and gates, which are often years if not decades old. Visitors and party guests forget to write down gate codes. Home owners forget their gate clickers. A delivery truck needs to enter from a back gate, where there’s no entry key pad.

And many retirees live in gated communities. That led to the next thought: Some older people still have “dumb” phones, and may not be able to download an app. But even most grannies can open a text nowadays.

That meant making the solution based on text messaging.

But the text-code solution is already taking off. The patend on the technology is pending, but since its founding in 2016, the company has logged approximately 400,000 entry openings at more than 6,000 locations in four states.

“They have an extraordinary opportunity to tap into security companies, to help them reduce headcount and create efficiencies,” said Jay Philip Parker, CEO of Elliman’s Florida brokerage and one of the real estate vertical judges.

Grosberg says it’s difficult to estimate what their initial startup costs were, since they used personal savings and “sweat equity” from technologies they’d worked on for years prior. The company currently is not seeking outside investment, preferring to go on its own. It is now looking to hire more sales associates to get the technology into more communities.

Not having to raise funds is an enviable luxury for a startup. But the product speaks for itself.

“Being self-funded allows you to make your own destiny,” Grosberg said. “We really want to fix a less than ideal aspect of daily life, and sometimes investor money means the vision takes a backseat.”

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