The way we work has changed demonstrably over the past two years and many of those changes, including new compliance protocols and hybrid office environments, are here to stay. Companies need smarter solutions for creating safe, secure office environments while seamlessly managing their team’s dynamic presence.
Mohit Garg and his team at Oloid are building the physical security equivalent of “single sign-on” to accommodate these changes. Alongside, DTC’s Series A investment in the company, we talked with Mohit about his motivation in starting Oloid, his hard earned lessons as a second time founder, and about one of the most memorable hikes he’s ever enjoyed.
WHY THIS, WHY NOW
The fundamental problem we’re solving with Oloid is modernizing the physical security and access management space. When I met my co-founder Madhu, he had this thesis about physical identity. We compared today’s physical identity experience the to the frictionless experience of digital identity in the cyber world through solutions like Okta and hit on building single sign-on for physical identity.
I’ve always found the workplace physical identity experience to be clunky – especially when compared to operating a Tesla with a mobile device or entering my home with August Lock. I was a consultant in my prior life and I would travel from one office to another – we had 50 offices in the US. Gaining access into a different office was very difficult every time. I would either be given a temporary badge or somebody would have to let me into the door. It just seems like there’s so much room for improvement.
As an entrepreneur, I’m always looking for both something that will be an impactful problem to solve, but also one which I can relate with and I can connect with emotionally. That makes the journey so much more fun.
We’re building Oloid now because when we started the company three years ago, the future of work was moving towards hybrid working – away from a more static, predictable format of coming into the same office every day and towards a more fluid format with dynamic access needs. Like with a lot of things Covid accelerated the movement towards using digital identity systems in offices. Before Covid, interest in digital identity was largely from factories and in places where the problem statements might be “we need access control but don’t want to touch surfaces.” It’s now extended itself to offices where people want integration of access control with compliance and maybe with a desk reservation system.
We don’t have to do it all in our industry… We don’t have to replace the existing physical system with all the wiring and closet hardware that customers find very reliable.
We have a strong belief in integrations; that we don’t have to do it all in our industry. There are two categories of players here. One that does everything – the badge, the software, the cameras – soup to nuts. And then there’s our approach which is an overlay solution. We don’t have to replace the existing physical system with all the wiring and closet hardware that customers find very reliable. We’re building the intelligence layer on either side of the hardware in the cloud and at the edge as a mobile app.
It is a very overused statement but I genuinely believe it when I say we live in interesting times. I get excited about the democratization of information and the ability to be a more connected humanity. I feel like our next generations, which are native to this global consciousness, will grow up with lot more awareness of relevant issues and have relevant knowledge at the tip of their fingertips.
Another welcome change is the fact that technology is no longer seen as a department, but rather is ingrained in our lives and in our businesses in a way that is seen as foundational as finance and HR. Technology… no matter if it’s the auto industry, food & beverage or textile companies, technology is being acknowledged as a multiplier.
LEARNING AND INSPIRATION
I think first time founders tend to hold onto control on many parts of the business longer than we should. There’s the conventional wisdom that is shared, which is don’t hire until it’s broken. Some founders take that very seriously. First, you become a bottleneck. And secondly, more importantly, when you finally end up hiring senior leadership, people start talking about the “good old days” when they used to work directly with the founder. It’s a massive change, right?
This time around as a second time founder, I have very consciously tried to not be the centralized point of decision making in the organization and very early on, I brought leaders who were operating as peers. We’ve built Oloid as company where we operate as aligned minds on the leadership team.
My role as the CEO is to make sure that alignment is going in the right direction and to challenge assumptions. I can step back and be an observer but only if I’m not running point on all day-to-day activities.
And my role as the CEO is to make sure that alignment is going in the right direction and to challenge assumptions. I can step back and be an observer but only if I’m not running point on all day-to-day activities. Building out the leadership team early on has been a big difference in my approach this time around.
OFF THE CLOCK
Another lesson I learned from my first startup is the importance of brutally prioritizing time with family and my kids. I tend to guard my weekend time with my children, whether it’s going to a park or for hikes.
I have an annual tradition of hiking Half Dome. I try to keep that going no matter what even during the pandemic and during California’s fire season. Which turned out to be the best experience – last year, for the entire ropes section, there were maybe 10 other people. There was a point where I looked up and down. I couldn’t see a soul. I don’t think I’ll experienced that ever again.
In five years’ time, I hope to have unlocked my own potential and the potential of my team along this startup journey. We’re focused on unlocking that massive potential and everything else will follow.