Arkami’s founder on developing its myIDkey password management device, and finding validation through Kickstarter (to the tune of $360K+)
A Q&A with Arkami founder and CEO Tareq Risheq. The Aliso Viejo, California–based company was founded in 2012 and has shattered its Kickstarter fundraising goal of $150K for its myIDkey security product by raising more than $360K with a week left in the campaign.
SUB: Please describe Arkami and your value proposition.
Risheq: We recognized a familiar pain point in most digital users’ lives and manufactured a simple password management device. Most everyone is frustrated by managing passwords and account information. MyIDkey is the industry’s first finger-swipe activated USB and Bluetooth wireless device with voice-search and OLED screen that securely displays logins, passwords and ID information while on the go.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Risheq: Our market research shows that the ease and security of the myIDkey resonates with consumers and solves a nagging problem in ways where competing solutions have been incomplete. The research showed that different age groups found the product very useful for different reasons. For example, boomers were particularly attracted to an instant password finder as memory recall can be more frustrating with age. Trying to keep up with many passwords and accounts costs them valuable time to find and manage.
Millennials discussed concerns with their ‘digital lifestyle’ and how that exposes them to identity issues. They appreciated that the myIDkey is a great organizational tool and allows them to be more intentional about security risks.
Women were very attracted to a device that is always with them as they are often the focal point not only for their own information but often for their parents and their kids. The burden of having access to their extended family’s information is finally eliminated.
Frequent travelers commented on the peace of mind in having the critical information they must carry during their trips in a secure, easily-accessible format. The more complexity in a person’s life the more interested and appreciative they were for myIDkey.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition? What differentiates Arkami from the competition?
Risheq: Currently there are no direct competitors delivering a secure USB and wireless device with a screen and voice recognition. Because password management is a prevalent problem, software companies like LastPass and RoboForm have successfully delivered part of the solution.
However, users wanted more. Unlike computer-only software solutions, myIDkey easily fits in your pocket, is highly secure and easily accessible for both online and offline needs. We’ve also added a voice search function for convenient and quick access to stored data where ever you are—not only when you’re in front of your computer. Voice search gives consumers the easiest and fastest way to find the password or bank account number.
Our product concept was validated by the CEA awarding us three Innovation Awards at the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Risheq: We incorporated in March, 2012, and the first step we took was to create a 3D rendering of what the product looks like—a picture explains it better than words. We then built a strong team who loved the product concept and who wanted to be involved from the beginning.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Arkami? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Risheq: Our constant frustration with managing all passwords and account numbers was the inspiration for the product concept—we knew there had to be a better way. Today’s myIDkey evolved with the great input from the team and now the Kickstarter community.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Risheq: Arkami means numbers in Arabic, a simple and clear name for our company. The product name, myIDkey, is a description of what the product is, a personal ID key.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Risheq: Funding a company in today’s financial environment can be difficult. Our initial market research showed strong interest in myIDkey. Our Kickstarter campaign became a ‘super validator’ and gave us and our future investors a loud and clear ‘yes.’ Consumers want and did buy the product.
Another obstacle was feature creep and freezing version one of the product. We have so many great ideas but to build it, we had to finalize what the myIDkey is for launch.
SUB: You recently initiated a Kickstarter campaign for your myIDkey product and you’ve shattered your goal of $150K with more than $360K pledged so far with just about a week left. What are your plans for the funds?
Risheq: This initial funding will be used to finalize product development and manufacturing. The campaign itself kickstarted our marketing initiatives.
SUB: Why did you choose to fund myIDkey via Kickstarter rather than from more traditional investors?
Risheq: Most of our investors liked the product concept but wanted proof there was an interest in the broader market. The success of our Kickstarter campaign has led to our seeking a Series A funding level which we are negotiating with potential investors.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Risheq: Sales for the consumer-based myIDkey will be our initial revenue stream. Future revenue streams are being explored, as many businesses have seen the product and envision a version of our core product with modifications that match the needs of their enterprise.
SUB: What are your goals for Arkami over the next year or so?
Risheq: First and foremost is to ship a product that meets and exceeds our customers’ expectations. We want to deliver a user experience that consumers love and that their password management problems online and offline are resolved. This is the goal we are all hyper-focused on delivering.
Arkami – www.myidkey.com