About the team

Industry:  Physical Security & Commercial Cloud-based Access Control

Product: Nexkey Solo – The world’s first smart wireless door strike for businesses

Year Founded: 2013

Location: San Mateo, CA

Why Fictiv

Reason to try: Fictiv’s ability to execute rapid, high-quality, de-risked new product introduction for sets of 15 unique CNC-machined parts

Capabilities Leveraged: High precision CNC machining, post processing on critical cosmetic requirements, access to Fictiv technical program manager (TPM)

Result: Unprecedented build-to-order time and cost efficiencies, even at low-volume/high-precision production, with the flexibility to scale at will

Nexkey access control device

An Innovative New Access Control System for Businesses

As a manufacturer of commercial-grade keyless smart access control systems for business, Nexkey’s mission and vision is deceptively simple: to rid the world of its need for keys. A paradigm shift of this magnitude requires a complete reboot in thinking around how we access and protect indoor and outdoor spaces. In other words, Nexkey wants to make all doors smart. No small task.

With such an ambitious charge in mind — disrupting the access management model without creating a disruptive environment — the Nexkey team set out to create a bold new solution. This innovation would replace all keys, keycards, and fobs with the first wireless smart door strike enabled with precision hardware, paired with a simple smart-device-driven app.

By completely reimagining and reengineering physical entry access hardware, and then building a robust software and firmware platform to operate these next-generation locking mechanisms, Nexkey today helps small to midsize businesses not only streamline access management workflow, but increase productivity and boost efficiency throughout the modern, smart workplace. 

Nexkey engaged with Fictiv from the start, commencing at the earliest prototyping stages and collaborating straight through to ensure accelerated NPI of its new and innovative Solo product. And for Eric Trabold, CEO of Nexkey, quality is always the first priority. “For me,” says Trabold, “the key deciding factor when picking a partner is, get me the best quality in a product.”

“For me, the key deciding factor when picking a partner is, get me the best quality in a product.”

– Eric Trabold, CEO; Nexkey

Searching For a High Quality Manufacturer to Scale into Production with Agility

The initial NPI and go-to-market goal for the new Solo product was only 60 assembled units. This quantity would then transition to a controlled bridge-scale rollout of 120 units the second month, and then scaling up to 1,000 units per month by first year’s end. Nexkey needed a manufacturing partner that could cost-effectively pace this deliberate scaling goal with them — producing sets of 15 unique high-quality CNC-machined parts for each unit at a schedule and price point that made market sense. 

“In our products, quality is always number one,” says Will Rehlich, Head of Hardware for Nexkey. “I need parts that work and fit and are reliable — parts that we can’t get anywhere else. Cost and speed come next. So, if I can get a known quantity, make quick changes, come to proof-of-concept, and then know that as I switch to scale it’s going to be the same parts, that’s huge.”

Will Rehlich, Head of Hardware at Nexkey
Will Rehlich, Head of Hardware; Nexkey

Repeatability and continuity were essential, especially at the lower bride-scale quantities Nexkey needed. Quality could not be sacrificed for speed. “It’s not worth the quality trade-offs of having to go to different vendors,” says Rehlich. “If I can order everything from Fictiv, and all in one location, that’s a big advantage.”

“If I can get a known quantity, make quick changes, come to proof of concept, and then know that as I switch to scale, it’s going to be the same parts, that’s huge.”

– Will Rehlich, Head of Hardware; Nexkey

The Key Requirement Throughout NPI: Quality Reliability 

For Nexkey’s Lead R&D Engineer, Ricky Lee, the ability to contract a partner they could trust was a key deciding factor in working with Fictiv. He says Fictiv confidently frees him and his team to focus on what they do best. “As a start-up, we do have limited resources,” notes Lee, “so it’s especially important for us to receive high-quality parts. This way we can spend our time improving our design and product rather than worrying about whether these parts are going to meet our tolerances or standards.”

Eric Trabold, CEO (L) and Ricky Lee, Lead R&D Engineer (R), Nexkey

From the first order on, Lee realized Nexkey had picked the right partner. “We were just impressed from the get-go. Fictiv provided high-quality parts, and the pricing was also very competitive.”

“We were just impressed from the get-go. Fictiv provided high-quality parts, and the pricing was also very competitive.”

– Ricky Lee, Lead R&D Engineer; Nexkey

A New Model for NPI: Precision Manufacturing On Demand

Today, Fictiv continues to deliver as a critical manufacturing partner in Nexkey’s highly agile supply chain, setting precedent for a new type of NPI model—one where the best elements of precision craftsmanship are combined with digital infrastructure, for the rapid production of high quality parts on demand. Fictiv enables Nexkey to cost-effectively scale as the market demands. And Investors find confidence in Nexkey being able to cost-efficiently build to order. 

“We hold an incredibly small amount of inventory,” says Eric Trabold in conclusion. “We know the demand ahead of time, and so we build specifically just for that demand. Fictiv delivers us the parts on demand which helps us optimize cash flow, giving us a competitive advantage and eliminating risk, great for the business and investors. We can then utilize those dollars in other areas to grow the business like sales and marketing.”

“We hold an incredibly small amount of inventory, because we know demand and build just for that demand. We depend on that cash flow to grow and build the business.”

– Eric Trabold, CEO; Nexkey