Top Deal: The Autonomous Defense Robots Of The Future

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Summary

Target Raise Amount: $50M

Knightscope has been selected as a “Top Deal” by KingsCrowd. This distinction is reserved for deals selected into the top 10% of our deal diligence funnel. If you have questions regarding our deal diligence and selection methodology please reach out to hello@kingscrowd.com.

Check out our discussion with Founder William Santana Li HERE that was conducted as part of our due diligence process.

Description

Knightscope is determined to make the United States the safest country in the world. It aims to accomplish this by developing autonomous robots to predict and prevent crime by using data analytics and technology.

Problem

Crime continues to plague the United States as tension, division, and poverty incite thefts, robberies, and violent crimes. With this constant recurrence, the need for security has grown for both small and large entities.

The costs of security teams are immense — security guards not only work elongated hours but also they command prices from $25/hr to $90/hr. For large facilities such as airports, malls, and warehouses, these costs quickly add up and represent huge burdens on the daily operations of these units.

The Market

The security industry is a $500+ billion market and the amount spent on human security is expected to move past $125 billion by 2022.

Multiple external factors affect this industry with corporate profits and the value of private nonresidential construction being the largest influences.

As this graph shows, security guard services are the dominant service in this industry — they command more than 70% of the industry. The demand for these services has gained popularity in recent years as corporate and government agencies have placed security as a top concern. In future years, an increase in competition is expected as security alarm systems that provide rapid responses look to carve out a role in this space.

Why We Like it

  1. Solution of the future — Knightscope has developed a solution that combines the best qualities of both on-site security guards and advanced alarm technologies. In a sector that has long been dominated by human work, Knightscope is at the forefront of bringing technological advances (discussed below) to an antiquated industry.
  2. Yet, it will not eliminate humans; rather Knightscope merges human skills with robotic capabilities in order to craft the best security measures. As the company notes, “Hardware + Software + Humans” will disrupt the industry and attack the $1 trillion negative impact that crime has on the economy eve ry year.  
  3. While traditional security measures can cost as much as $90/hour, a Knightscope bot only costs customers $7/hour. The current models are priced from $4500/month to $6500/month. It dramatically decreases costs while simultaneously upgrading the quality of security measures. As human and technology cooperation grows, Knightscope is already ahead of its competition.
  4. Technological Capabilities — Knightscope develops autonomous bots that deter, detect, and report in order to stifle crime. To do this, the team has equipped the bots with unprecedented technology upgrades that have already led to four patents. The bots possess the following capabilities.
  5. The security robots, which collect 90 terabytes of data each year, recognize 300 license plates per minute, identify suspects and unusual activities, and identifies if something is dangerous to its surroundings. From here, the robots communicate with security to provide alerts and stress areas of concern.
      • 360-degree HD Video Streaming
      • People Anomaly Detection
      • License Plate Recognition
      • Thermal Anomaly Detection
      • Automatic Signal Detection
      • Live Audio Broadcast
      • Two-way Intercom
      • Pre-recorded Broadcast Messages
  6. The security robots, which collect 90 terabytes of data each year, recognize 300 license plates per minute, identify suspects and unusual activities, and identifies if something is dangerous to its surroundings. From here, the robots communicate with security to provide alerts and stress areas of concern.
  7.  In addition, the robots synthesize all the data that it collects in order to perform analytics. Knightscope invests heavily in research and development, and it continues to make updates to its product line, thus ensuring that its models continue to improve in their capabilities. This serves to protect Knightscope about possible new entrants into the market as Knightscope will reap the benefits of having years of experience in making better products.
  8. Brand Exposure — Knightscope continues to impress with its ability to garner large well-known clients. Many of the tech giants in Silicon Valley rely upon Knightscope bots to patrol its facilities. Among its current clients are Uber, Microsoft, and the Sacramento Kings.
  9. As these clients are seen as very forward-thinking tech savvy companies, it implies to consumers and other companies that Knightscope provides well-designed trustworthy devices. This will help Knightscope recruit and maintain client relationships, a key factor in ensuring continued success
  10. Lack of Competition — As the early-mover, Knightscope possesses a distinct advantage over competitors as it has already garnered wealths of information since 2013. The necessary technological and engineering knowledge required to create these devices serves as a large entry barrier to new entrants.
  11. Moreover, there have not been any major players in the field. Cobalt has developed robotic security guards tha t are mainly targeted at office buildings for security and monitoring building conditions.
  12. Despite this, Knightscope seems to possess a clear advantage over Cobalt as its products are more flexible and can serve more purposes. Knightscope should be able to capitalize on its head start and grasp a firm control on many markets (malls, corporate campuses, hospitals, warehouses, airports, stadiums, and casinos). 
  13. Skilled Leadership — Knightscope CEO William Santana Li is an experienced entrepreneur and former executive at Ford; he also was the founder of GreenLeaf which grew to be the 2nd largest automotive recycler. His experiences demonstrate that he can succeed in a forward-looking entrepreneurial company.
  14. The rest of the team brings in previous law enforcement officers, security companies, and design experts. As these members work together and create synergies, they will be able to create and market the best-designed products.
  15. Most importantly, when we spoke with the CEO he impressed us mightily as a visionary leader. To be clear the team is tackling the security market with its products but do note that what they have been building is the first set of truly autonomous vehicles and aspirations for the business go well beyond where they are today.
  16. The fact that they have blown away automotive manufacturers with the progress of their autonomous tech so rapidly is a sign that starting small and focused with a talented team of Silicon Valley engineers is a way to be nimble and move fast. Something the large automakers can only envy.

Rating

Recommendation: Top Deal

 Knightscope has the market opportunity. It has the product. And it has the leadership team required to completely disrupt the security services industry and become a formidable player in the autonomous vehicle landscape.

Though the valuation at $300M may seem frothy at first glance, the reality is the team continues to sell out its rounds including the $20M raise it completed on SeedInvest. Not to mention that autonomous vehicle companies have recieved handsome acquisitions including nutonomy for $450M, Cruise Automation was acquired for over $1B by GM and  Argo AI received over $1B in funding from Ford.

Do note that all of these were essentially acquired for the tech capability without an actual commercialized product to speak of. Knightscope is already actively selling its products and has a significant first mover advantage within its current core market.  

Put simply we think the valuation is inline with expectations for a technology company of this nature. Because of its advantages in product design and technological capabilities, it seems that Knightscope is well positioned to provide investors with a sizeable return over the next several years. For all these reasons, Knightscope is a Top Deal.

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About: Chris Lustrino

A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.

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