Five years ago, Yann Leretaille and Torben Friehe started a company called 1aim with a simple but powerful premise: to develop solutions that enable people to securely open any door, with any device.
Friends since high school, the pair quickly moved the company from Hannover to Berlin to start tinkering away in earnest, attract their first employees, and its first round of financing. A breakthrough came in 2016, when the world’s fourth largest door manufacturer - Hörmann Group - decided to back the company with both capital and know-how. Other investors include XING founder Lars Hinrichs and Brent Hoberman, the co-founder of Lastminute.com, Founders Factory and Firstminute Capital.
Fast forward to today, and 1aim has grown up quite a lot from its relatively humble beginnings in access control systems. According to Friehe and Leretaille, the potential was almost immediately clear: companies, they posit, really struggle to understand how to efficiently use their space and are almost universally unhappy with their employees’ poor workspace experience.
Today, 1aim's claim is to create and provide a building’s "central nervous system". To do so, it provides businesses with a full-stack AI platform that optimises and automates building management, trying to push the boundaries in hardware and software development to serve the latter's growing needs.
It starts with the collection of unique identity and access data, which allows the software to create a 'digital twin' of any building to assist in formulating recommendations for the future, as well as automated actions, all to improve building efficiency and user experience.
At the Security Essen conference this week, the AI startup is announcing another landmark deal: an investment-partnership agreement with FSB, Europe's largest door-handle producer. The tie-up has resulted in a new product created by the two companies' combined engineering teams, dubbed the FSB L700 LightAccess Pro. In addition, FSB will offer a wide range of sophistically crafted door handles in combination with the partnership product.
Another landmark deal that could have been but isn't (or at least not yet): tech.eu has heard - and confirmed with a source - that WeWork has been sniffing around 1aim for an investment in, or an acquisition of part of its operations - or to buy the entire company outright. It's unclear whether those conversations have ended, or if a deal is still in the works behind closed doors (sorry).
Either way, we'll be keeping an eye on the company, as it's just a matter of time until opportunity comes knocking at its doors (sorry, again).