August Home CEO: Consumers will embrace in-home access for service providers if we can build trust

This is an excerpt from a note from Business Insider Intelligence’s Internet of Things coverage. Click here to learn how to access to full interview.

Business Insider Intelligence recently spoke with August Home cofounder and CEO Jason Johnson about the company’s August Access program, which allows companies to partner with the smart lock vendor to get access to consumers’ homes to deliver goods or provide services. August Home Cofounder and CEO Jason Johnson

We discussed the origins of the company’s August Access system, as well as how it approached early trials with retail and e-commerce partners. Additionally, we talked about the future of in-home access programs and consumer attitudes toward the new approach. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation.

The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.


Business Insider Intelligence (BII): How did August decide to develop an in-home access program?

Jason Johnson (JJ): So, it really came from the beginning. When we started to make the August Smart Lock, we knew that people would want to stop using their keys to enter their own homes, but we also knew they would want to give access to friends, family, and other third parties, like dog walkers and house cleaners, who might normally have a key.

August Access is basically our access control in the cloud, with these third-party hooks that allow access for dog walkers, house cleaners, delivery companies, home repair services — essentially any business that needs to get access into your home to do the service that you hired them to do. From the beginning, we architected systems to do that. I believe the first third-party service to use the August Access system was Airbnb, and then HomeAway and others. 

BII: So, it started with home-sharing, that’s interesting. Is it any more complicated to issue medium- to longer-term access than one-time access, like allowing UPS in to deliver a package? 

August Home August Access System

JJ: As it turns out, it’s all kind of the same. The August software team that built and operates the August Access system largely comes from the video world, from TiVo and ReplayTV and Netflix, which is very similar — you’re given temporary access to a video, say you rent a video online and you have it for 24 hours, then it expires, or you can rent it for 30 days, and then it expires.

We used the same paradigm for access control, giving the owner the ability to designate a third party, say an Airbnb or HomeAway or a delivery company, and authorize them to give temporary access to one of their workers for a defined time range. 

So, in the case of Airbnb, while you and I have been talking, somebody, somewhere just booked a stay for two days or a week, and as they pressed book in the Airbnb app, an August key was generated in real time that will only work for the days of that vacation stay. For delivery, it’s a very similar situation, where you authorize the delivery provider, and they give temporary access for a single day to an individual agent to deliver that package. And then that access expires.

BII: Do you have any insights on how consumers react to this kind of delivery?

JJ: We’ve done quite a bit of home delivery with a whole range of partners. And there’s lots of things we’ve learned, but I can synthesize for you what I believe is the general acceptance of this in America. It roughly divides into thirds, where you have one third of Americans who are just not interested — they either already have a way to get their deliveries securely or they’re simply not comfortable with the idea.

Then, you have a third who are very excited and have rapidly signed up for various programs. They’re people who have had packages stolen, or have sat at home for 4 hours to wait for a package that cannot be left on the porch. Apple will not let their carriers drop packages off on the front porch of your house, for example, just one of those things.

And then, there’s this third of Americans who need us to build trust and make them comfortable before they will use it. Right now, that’s where a lot of our R&D and product development is headed to try to address their specific needs and concerns.

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