Allegion, a leading global security products and solutions provider, today announced the launch of Allegion Ventures, a $50 million corporate venture fund aimed at investing in early-stage startup companies developing innovative technologies and products.
Allegion Ventures will be managed by Allegion’s global futurist and head of external partnerships and collaborations Rob Martens. I spoke with Rob along with Wade Sheek, Managing Principal for Allegion Ventures and Allegion Deputy Counsel, about why a $2.2 billion global enterprise and highly tech-enabled company chose to enter this new line of business.
This announcement is related to trends in the greater Indiana business community, where some of the most established companies, what we often refer to as anchor companies, have taken a bold leap into innovation in both their product and their business.
What’s different about Allegion’s journey is their decision to focus on capital, which is a critical ingredient companies need to get their product to market faster and a resource our Midwest tech hub now has more access to.
The fund has been operating quietly for just a few weeks and already has 50 companies on their short list for consideration. A partnership with Touchdown Ventures, a venture capital firm operating out of the coasts, was created to assist in managing the fund by aligning processes of finding and vetting companies. “We spent time with entrepreneurs to talk about where they are today, what their concrete business plans are, and where we can help them and add some value in return,” said Rob Martens. As for qualifying factors, one is that it has to be “a win-win, where there is something we can do to help accelerate the company,” said Rob.
It’s that win-win relationship that is unique to corporate venture funds where the corporate fund has access to their corporate talent that is capable of teaching startups about processes for scale. At the same time, startups can excel at innovating in ways our anchor institutions may struggle due to their processes, and therefore the corporate side learns and innovates along with them.
Those complexities he references are to the various aspects of growing and scaling a business, such as hiring quickly, finding the right real estate, fine-tuning your sales pitch and verticals, and other business and product functions that can require skills and experience beyond the resources that early-stage startups and scale-ups have access to.
“If you are just launching a company and haven’t had a lot of deep experience in there, you hit the walls very quickly. Partnering with a company like Allegion, we can help them navigate that and get through it more easily than with someone who is just providing capital,” said Wade.
Allegion’s expertise is reflected in their over 600 patents and a global engineering office of more than 600 engineers in their Carmel, Indiana-based office. In an interview with TechPoint’s Joshua Hall, we heard from Todd Graves, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technology at Allegion, who described their talent and the reach of their work.
“We have nearly every engineering skill-set that you could imagine — mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, firmware and software developers — everything you would need to develop a product that would mount physically on a door, but would also connect up to a mobile app in the cloud and do everything else you’d expect of an IoT-enabled device,” Todd said. “Especially when we’re talking about products connecting to the Internet of things, that architecture is really being driven out of Indiana and servicing the entire world.”
Much of that talent and global reach is focused on the Internet of Things (IoT), where Allegion eyes “tremendous growth and attention.”
Rob and Wade both have a national reputation in the IoT space. Rob is one of Inc Magazine’s 20 Influencers Who Will Lead the Internet of Things, and Wade navigated Allegion’s spin-off and IPO and has completed M&A deals on five continents.
They explained that one of the dangers of the IoT space is understanding how to monetize it.
Allegion Ventures will have an impact on the companies they invest in and our tech ecosystem partially through proximity. Akin to High Alpha’s impact in Indianapolis and out of state, it is possible that the fund will seek investment opportunities with our startup and scaleup tech companies. Rob says that Allegion’s footprint in Indiana, which makes them “one of the largest, most profitable and dynamic security companies in the world” in our backyard, is another important reason for creating the fund.
“We want to engage, share knowledge, and become more familiar with people in the tech community. Indy, over the last couple of years, is clearly emerging as a tech hub. With proximity and opportunity, it is the perfect time to launch the fund,” said Rob.
For more information about Allegion Ventures, visit allegionventures.com.