A Q&A with Kairos co-founder Brian Brackeen. The Miami–based company was founded in 2011 and raised $500K in Seed funding in mid-September from a group of Angel investors.
SUB: Please describe Kairos, and the value proposition you offer to businesses.
Brackeen: Our current offering, the Kairos TimeClock, uses our facial recognition algorithm, Kairos ID, to identify and clock-in a customer’s employees. By using facial recognition, an employer can expect their payroll to go down 5 percent. This is because people can no longer game the system by having their friends punch them in when they are late, or even punch them in early for overtime.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Brackeen: Our users are actually the employees of the companies who purchase our service. We target employers of any size who want to get ensure their workforce is who and where they say they are.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Brackeen: There are several time clock manufacturers, a few with biometric options. We have not found a mobile biometric time clock as of yet, but we keep a close eye on the landscape.
SUB: What differentiates Kairos from the competition?
Brackeen: We put design first. Our company is made up of many ex-Apple employees, so we place a high premium on design and intuitive use. We don’t let our coders decide how it will look. Our designers and customer advocates at Kairos, those who are closer to the users, guide our designs.
We also a fans of very technical solutions, we are elegant and simple on the outside, but we use the latest technologies in the cloud. Our system can identify one million faces per second.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Brackeen: The company was founded around a year and a half ago. We actually re-launched it after graduating successfully from the NewMe accelerator four months ago. Since then we have been talking to some of the largest companies in the U.S. and in the world.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Kairos? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Brackeen: Amanda and I met at Apple a few years ago. We started talking about what could be done and how things should be in the workforce management space. After we both left Apple we decided to join up and make our dream a reality. We were your classic startup, working at our kitchen tables, and online via Skype then Google Hangouts. Now we have 15-plus employees and we are starting to get great traction. Graduating NewMe took us from great idea to well-designed company in 13 weeks. I would strongly suggest accelerators to anyone. NewMe was rocket fuel.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Brackeen: It means ‘the most opportune moment.’ We help employers seize the moment. Our current and future products are all about that concept. There are many systems that help you forecast, and others that help you manage and analyze the past. Our platforms—including our facial recognition time clock—help you get the most out of this very moment. It’s a revolutionary concept that we are quite excited to exploit.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Brackeen: We are a like a lot of startup firms, there just are not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done, and the more traction you get the more hours you need. It’s tough, but it’s also super exciting. Everyday matters at a startup. When I worked at IBM or Apple, it was not always that way.
SUB: You just raised $500K in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Brackeen: We brought on development staff full-time, we have an opening for a sales person, but we are already looking ahead. We are raising a round to take our product international, and to expand our use of facial recognition into other areas. We are under NDA with a couple large retailers that I can’t mention, but generally our facial recognition technology can be used not just on employees, but can also branch out to customers of a retailer. We want to be the company that drives that ‘minority report’ future. We think that’s where we are going.
Kairos is working on designs and prototypes that use facial recognition for everything from pulling up your medical records in a hospital, to opening doors in a secure facility, to identifying people on the battlefield for the armed services. The uses are endless and we have designed our systems and algorithms to process up to one million faces per second. We even have had discussions with a car manufacturer to use it to allow your car to start. Our time clock is just the start of this evolution and our future funding will support these efforts.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?
Brackeen: I think if you have a strong idea and a strong team it’s always a great time. It’s all about traction and execution.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Brackeen: We charge on a per employee basis. That way it scales from small businesses to enterprises.
SUB: What are your goals for Kairos over the next year or so?
Brackeen: We want to settle into a new office space in Miami, fill it with the best talent, close a Series A round, and sell the product in 20-plus countries. We are pretty aggressive when it comes to growth, we believe we have a product that customers want. Interestingly enough we have over 50 customers in our pipeline and we have not yet spent a dollar on marketing or advertising. We feel that a year from now we will be in a dramatically different place and it’s exciting.
Kairos – www.kairos.io