Secure Storage Technologies targets cash-strapped cities | nnbw.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Secure Storage Technologies targets cash-strapped cities

John Seelmeyer

After six years of development, Reno’s Secure Storage Technologies LLC is ready to roll out its sales effort smack in the middle of a recession that left its major potential customers strapped for cash.

The company has developed an integrated curb-side kiosk where consumers can pay to park a car, securely store a bicycle, check out a public-share bike or access information from nearby merchants.

The problem: The primary markets for Secure Storage Technologies’ systems are city governments and universities, and neither of them have much money these days.

The answer: Secure Storage Technologies is negotiating with a couple of companies that would finance purchases of the systems by cities and universities, taking repayment from the revenue generated by the kiosks, says Chief Financial Officer Jeff Sunderman.

And revenue is the company’s pitch as it tours trade shows and visits city halls.

The company’s system, which it’s dubbed the CURB Kiosk, begins with sensors about the size of a small can of orange juice that are installed in the pavement in parking space.

The sensors monitor the arrival of a vehicle and track credit-card payment by the motorist at a kiosk that’s installed in each block. The system allows cities to charge more for parking at peak times, and it gives enforcement officers real-time information through portable devices about the spots where motorists haven’t paid for parking.

Other revenue-generation possibilities include advertising sales on the kiosks, paid parking for bicycles and paid use of public-share bicycles, maybe through a monthly subscription plan.

Plus, Secure Storage Technologies executives say the cost of operating CURB Kiosks is less than traditional banks of parking meters, improving the profitability of a city’s parking assets.

“We launched into the teeth of the perfect storm,” says Kane Dutt, the company’s founder and chairman of the board. “But everybody needs a shot of revenue.”

The genesis of the company, he says, came from a commonplace event: theft of his bike.

Combining his annoyance with his training as a business school graduate, Dutt began researching locking-and-alarmed bicycle security systems. A patent search discovered that the field was wide open.

Dutt designed a security system, filed patent applications, trademarked it as “Bike Vault,” raised $50,000 in equity capital and began developing prototypes of a bike-security system for home use.

Showing a prototype at a bicycle trade show, Dutt heard from numerous potential customers interested in a curbside, public bicycle-storage system.

“Most cyclists don’t want to carry a lock,” he says. “People were willing to pay for some sort of a secure storage system.”

As they designed a secure storage system for bicycles, Secure Storage Technologies employees began to see an opportunity for a multi-function curbside kiosk. It completed designs and patent filings for the parking technology in 2008.

It raised another round of financing last year the company has invested about $1 million in development of CURB Kiosks and deployed a test of the kiosk system on Ryland Street between Virginia and Center streets in downtown Reno.

As the company’s nine employees prepare their first marketing push, Sunderman and Dutt acknowledge that Security Storage Technologies faces a raft of competitors everyone from makers of traditional and electronic parking meters to makers of terminals that produce parking receipts displayed on motorists’ dashboards.

Executives of the Reno company believe, however, that the revenues generated by the CURB Kiosk will help Security Storage Technologies win a position in the market.

And Dutt notes that the system’s capability to offer public bicycle-sharing systems a hot subject since the introduction of a much-publicized system in Paris is helping to attract attention to CURB Kiosk.