David Moeller was not looking to start another business. He had previously earned the serial entrepreneur badge with CodeGuard, a website backup startup, and his hardware company Claw Hanging Systems.
But a series of car break-ins prompted Moeller to seek out a product that would keep his vehicle safe. What he found was a gap in the market and an opportunity to fill it.
Moeller spent several years researching and developing prototypes and business plans for what would later become Retain technologies. The Atlanta-based startup, which virtually debuted at TechCrunch Startup Battlefield, was officially founded in fall 2020.
âI was really looking for a reason not to start this,â Moeller said, noting that he spent months doing market research, patenting, polling consumers and ultimately building a prototype. âI had just sold my business and at the time I was thinking, I should be focusing on golf and I have a young daughter. I wanted to find the red flag or a reason not to.
Moeller did not find this reason. Instead, he developed a suite of smart devices for vehicle safety and security, as well as a cloud service and a mobile app. Its flagship product is the Knight, an intrusion and motion detector that locks into a vehicle’s cup holder. And yes, the cup holder can still be used.
Keep’s technology, for which it has obtained five utility patents and 16 others pending, has already attracted several investors. Moeller initially used his own funds to seed Keep. The company has since raised $ 4 million from several investors, including Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince, Tom Noonan, who is the founding partner of early stage technology investment firm TechOperators, Bert Ellis. from Ellis Capital, Kenzie Lane, CEO of Tripp Rackley Innovation. and Jerry Perullo, who is the chief information officer for the Intercontinental Exchange.
How it works
Keep Technology’s Knight device connects to a vehicle’s OBD port. The cord can run under the floor and then to the vehicle’s center console, where the cup holders are usually located. The knight is placed in the cup holder and activates once the owner turns the device so that it is docked in its slot.
The Knight can only be uninstalled by the user, Moeller told TechCrunch, adding that some of its patents relate to the alarm functionality during installation and removal of the device. The Knight is equipped with a camera that offers a 180 degree view. It also has cellular bandwidth, as well as passive infrared (PIR) and microwave sensors to detect movement outside and inside the car.
All of this means that the Knight can record a video of a person breaking into the vehicle, send that data to the cloud, and transmit it to the user’s mobile device. Keep Technologies also has a surveillance service that can view the video on behalf of the car owner and take action and notify the police.
The goal, of course, is to prevent break-ins – not just to register bad actors who play with the vehicle or steal things from it. The device communicates via Bluetooth either with a key fob or with the user’s mobile application. In any case, once the owner locks and moves out of range of the vehicle, the device will automatically arm.
If someone approaches the vehicle and looks inside, the device goes into deterrent mode by flashing an LED light and chirping loudly. It is not comparable to the loud outdoor alarms on the market today. The bright flash and beep sound only occur if someone lingers near the vehicle and stops once they have left. If they choose to open the vehicle, a buzzer that sounds up to 120 decibels – Moeller describes it as 100 screaming babies – goes off and the fisheye lens records and transmits the video.
For the Knight product, Moeller said the company is targeting $ 299 for the device and $ 50 per year for the subscription. If the user wants professional tracking, Keep aims for a price of around $ 30 per month. The company plans to launch the product in mid-2022.
Keep’s winding road
Moeller, who received his mechanical engineering degree from Georgia Tech, began his professional life more traditionally by taking a job at GE where he worked for four years in the Midwest, China and Dallas. He left for business school at Harvard University with the intention of making a career change to investment banking. This is where the entrepreneurship bug first appeared.
On a whim, Moeller and a friend took part in a reality show called American Inventor, a precursor to Shark Tank that aired on ABC in the summer of 2007. The duo invented a bike rack called The Claw and ended up doing so. be one of the six finalists. They would eventually license the product to Whirlpool and over a million units were sold through Lowe’s, Home Depot and Amazon.
Moeller had spent half of that summer filming the reality show and the other half doing an internship at an investment bank.
âAt the end of the summer, I decided to do entrepreneurship even though I wasn’t making any money,â Moeller said. “This experience really changed my mindset about taking big risks and what can happen when you do that.”
The launch of Claw Hanging Systems led Moeller to his next startup called CodeGuard. The founders of Claw had set up a website to collect pre-orders of the product once the show launched. The goal, Moeller explained, was to be able to show Whirlpool or some other company that there was a demand for the product. But the website crashed the day before American Inventor was released.
A few years later, Moeller co-founded website backup startup CodeGuard with a professor from Georgia Tech. The company was launched at TechCrunch Disrupt 2011 and became a finalist in the competition. CodeGuard partnered with Cloudflare shortly thereafter and was acquired in 2018 by Sectigo.
Moeller stayed at Sectigo for another two years. During this time, he began working nights and weekends on equipment for neuroscience labs. It would eventually become Neuromatic Devices, a Georgia Tech and MIT spinoff company. Moeller ended up selling the assets of Neuromatic.
It was around the time Sectigo acquired CodeGuard that Moeller suffered a series of car break-ins. The latest, which took place right after he and his wife moved to a new neighborhood in Atlanta, prompted him to find any kind of security device or product that could prevent future thefts.
Looking to future products
The company has also developed other products – most with a chess theme – including a cheaper version called Pawn which doesn’t have a camera and still detects movement and intrusion, as well as a mounted device. the windshield that provides 360 degrees of visibility called the Tower.
Moeller said the knight, pawn, and rook are just the start for the business. The 11-person company, including Moeller, is also working on other safety devices and sensors, including a guard for catalytic converters, which are the thieves’ favorite. Other add-ons to come include a car seat monitoring sensor, a device that monitors the door, trunk, and fuel cap, wireless charging in the mug, and a tag that provides additional GPS tracking. .
Keep also designed a product called Lookout, a small washer that fits over the windshield and can record traffic stops. With this, Moeller is not trying to sneak into the dashcam industry; instead, he thinks partnering with some leading vendors for integration into their devices is potentially a better path.