Lock it up
The term “smart” technology conjures all manner of futuristic possibilities and unprecedented conveniences. Using the handheld computer we call a smartphone, one can do everything from setting the thermostat to counting footsteps.
When entrepreneur Mitch Danzig, BGS ’91, decided to get into the start-up game with business partner Jeff Hermann, he sought to deliver a smart technology that actually was smart. So, he staked his claim at the intersection of two massive trends defining the zeitgeist: the Internet of Things and the opioid epidemic.
Danzig and Hermann are president and CEO, respectively, of Solo Technology Holdings in Purchase, N.Y. In 2016, they introduced consumers to the iKeyp, a lightweight, portable “smart safe” compatible with IOS and Android systems. The iKeyp offers 24-hour, real-time security intelligence. It deters unauthorized drug use in some cases and enhances adherence to prescription use in others.
“We’re out to solve a problem and change people’s behavior,” Danzig says. “We leave too many dangerous things in our sock drawer or on the nightstand. You wouldn’t think to leave a loaded gun on the nightstand.”
A safe bet
The iKeyp is priced at $149 and sells online at Amazon.com and the iKeyp website. The product is 6 inches high, 12.8 inches long, and 3.4 inches deep. Manufactured in China, the safe is constructed of a durable polycarbonate compound and can be opened and closed from a remote location by an authorized user.Owners can share codes with loved ones, caretakers, etc., and keep codes from curious teens, their associates, roommates, and others.
Once linked to the handheld device, the iKeyp alerts the user whenever someone attempts to open, close, or tamper with the safe. The companion app also can track medication compliance, which decreases the odds of missing a dose or taking too much.
Sensors identify motion, vibration, and tilting. The iKeyp can store small valuables, passports, and other items, and though it’s not impervious to a sledgehammer, the safe can provide a first line of defense in the war on opioids.
“We’re not trying to create Fort Knox or compete with a 200-pound safe in your closet,” Danzig says. “This is a WiFi-enabled safe for everyday use, designed to deter casual theft.”
Denial of the opioid epidemic is one of the biggest hurdles to iKeyp’s market penetration, Danzig says. While consumers may be educated about the problem, many fail to see their role in its solution.
“Your own kid may be great, but their friends might not,” he says. “If you have [opioids] in your home for any reason, they should be locked up for your protection and theirs.”
Danzig admits the safe market is pretty well saturated, and he knows of at least two competitors with ideas similar to the iKeyp. But they are not yet at retail.
His product’s competitive edge comes through its technology, size, portability, and price, Danzig says. It’s a low-cost option for use in the home, a hotel room, a dorm room, an assisted living facility, and more. The compact design allows for easy storage to help ensure a user’s desire for privacy.
The iKeyp Pro’s patented design features expandable steel wings that use pressure to hold the unit securely in a drawer or a medicine cabinet. “The Bolt” model can be affixed to a wall.
Start me up
Danzig, the son of a Bronx social worker, realized he was at an inflection point in his Wall Street career when his father decided to retire.
“At his retirement party, people told me story after story about how amazing my Dad was, how he saved their lives,” Danzig says. “And all I was hearing in [the finance industry] was, ‘So, which law did they break today?’”
After spanning some 25 years at PWC, Lehmann Brothers, and Deutsche Bank, Danzig decided to step away from the security of a finance career to reinvent himself as a bonafide entrepreneur.
“I’ve always wanted to be my own boss,” he says. “And now I’m like a 50-year-old start-up kid drawing things on the wall in my basement. Wall Street may help you pay for nice things, but it doesn’t give you the same satisfaction as helping someone.”
A 2016 LinkedIn post regarding his “change of vocation” caught the attention of attorney and U-M fraternity brother, Jeff Padilla, BA ’91. They had lost touch since college, but as fate would have it, Padilla was a lawyer whose specialty was advising entrepreneurs and startups. He has since signed on as Solo Technology’s senior VP and general counsel.The company recently showcased the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and was recently awarded 1st place Buyer’s Choice Award at ECRM’s Consumer Technology EPPS in Chicago. A slow rollout continues as Solo Technology Holdings makes connections at big-box retailers and leaders in the “smart home” industry. Danzig says he hopes to have multiple products and licensing deals in play by the end of 2018.
The ultimate goal is to generate enough income to channel funds into education and policy efforts, Danzig says. During most of 2017, he built a network of experts in drug addiction, including DEA agents, judges, and more.
“There are some amazing people and organizations seeking to educate us about this issue,” Danzig says. “We never want to lose sight of our company’s original DNA. We are here to solve a problem and help end the opioid epidemic.”