Rick Morris of Smart Access Technologies: ” “Times of crisis might turn into times of opportunities”

We doubled our efforts to launch the product expecting things to be slow in the beginning. We knew it was now or never as we have spent the last two years developing the products. As a result of the pandemic, we realized that things might get harder for a lot of companies, us included, but […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

We doubled our efforts to launch the product expecting things to be slow in the beginning. We knew it was now or never as we have spent the last two years developing the products. As a result of the pandemic, we realized that things might get harder for a lot of companies, us included, but as the saying goes, “Times of crisis might turn into times of opportunities,” and that is what we are shooting for.

The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.

As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Morris.

Rick Morris is a father, husband, inventor, and entrepreneur.

Rick is an inventor by heart, who has the ability to think outside the box, come up with great ideas, and is able to visualize and bring them to life. He is always looking for ways to fix, improve, or create new things.

He has two kids who are less than two years apart, and as with many parents, his kids managed to break into the baby proofed cabinets. He realized there weren’t any smart locking systems on the market, so he decided to develop one. As the idea came to life, so did all the possibilities that this system could cover, and that is how the idea grew from childproofing cabinets to securing furniture and storage cabinets throughout the home and office.

It took him a little over two years of research and development and a handful of patent pending’s to bring this product to life, and finally on December 14, 2020, Smart Access Technologies was introduced to the world.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born and raised in Hayward, California. Since I was a little boy, I was always intrigued to find out how things worked. My dad had a tool shop where I would spend hours every day tinkering and building stuff. Every electronic I could get my hands on, I would open it up to understand how it worked. I’ve always been determined to reach my goals, so when my parents told me I couldn’t get a motorcycle at the age of ten, I managed to build my own with the engine from an old lawn edger and an old motorcycle frame I found.

I also added a weedwhacker motor to a bike and cruised that around the neighborhood for many years. I would take apart clocks and watches, put them back together, and always fix broken things. Engines, electronics, and technology have always been fascinating to me, and I constantly read and learn about them.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Your journey to success begins with taking a chance.” I am constantly thinking of different ways to find solutions to problems and am writing all my ideas down. I have two options, I can either keep writing them down and dream of the “what if” one of my ideas can make a difference, or I can take a chance, believe in myself, and take the risk and bring my ideas to life. I decided to pick the latter.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. This book resonated with me because it’s our choices in life that will make or break us. Being able to take risks can define your life for good, and being financially literate is as or even more important than being brilliant-minded as a business owner. There are many quotes and messages from his book that I can really relate to.

When I was in high school, I read his book and that inspired me to want to buy a house as soon as possible so it could become a rental. I worked several jobs and saved as much as I could until I was able to come up with the down payment to purchase my first rental property. I bought and sold properties for a decade before the housing crisis of 2008 where I decided to shift to other investments.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?

I worked in corporate aviation for the last 20 years, where I managed the maintenance of an aircraft for a fortune fifty company and executives, but I always wanted more for myself. Even though I have always felt this was the perfect fit for me, deep down, I’ve always strived for more, and wanted to create something unique. The part I enjoyed most was the challenges that came with it, since the planes have moved in the direction of advanced technology, I have been involved with maintaining and understanding complex systems including fly-by-wire planes, wireless mesh networks, and satellite communications.

Reading wiring diagrams to diagnose a problem has always caused me to think of different ways that the system could work or how I think it could be better, so I’ve been able to implement technical and mechanical knowledge.

What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?

We doubled our efforts to launch the product expecting things to be slow in the beginning. We knew it was now or never as we have spent the last two years developing the products. As a result of the pandemic, we realized that things might get harder for a lot of companies, us included, but as the saying goes, “Times of crisis might turn into times of opportunities,” and that is what we are shooting for.

We have a great product that we know people will love.

With my past experience in aviation, reading wiring diagrams to diagnose a problem has always caused me to think of different ways that the system could work or how I think it could be better, so I’ve been able to implement technical and mechanical knowledge for years.

Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?

My “Aha” moment was during a conversation I was having with my wife about what we were going to do over the weekend. In the middle of the conversation, I blurted out, “It’s smart locking systems for cabinets, finger touch.” My wife looked at me as if I was crazy, mostly because it came out of nowhere during a conversation about another topic. I described what I was thinking with excitement, and she agreed it would be an amazing product that could simplify life for many.

As parents, we experienced firsthand how easy wandering hands could open some childproofing locks. Living through the smart home revolution and realizing that there still weren’t smart locking systems for furniture and cabinetry gave me the push I needed, and with the encouragement and support of my wife, we got this going. Adriana has been an immense contributor to this company, and her attention to detail is spot on, she earned a PhD and brings a level of professionalism that is inspiring.

How are things going with this new initiative?

Things are going well. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this interview, we just launched our website in December, so it has been a slow start, but we are gaining speed. We have received very good feedback from everyone that has used our system so we are excited about the future.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My wife. She has been there from the start, always encouraging me and believing in me and my ideas. She has helped me build this up and has supported me on every step of the way. We brainstorm together. She gives me advice, and it works great because she is very strong in areas I am weaker in, and I’m stronger in areas she is weaker in, so we make a great team.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

This story turned into a life lesson about how trying to go the easy path might actually end up delaying you, so you are better off doing it right from the start, even though it might take longer.

Initially, I sourced a PCB that I was going to use as a controller component because it saved a lot of money in R&D and time. I learned a hard lesson; the company I sourced the PCB and firmware discontinued that particular PCB a few weeks before our app was completed, which incorporated that PCB we used in our controller. The app was under development for five months and came to a screeching halt.

It was a very stressful time. I had to decide to either source another PCB/firmware from another company or create our own to have full control and wouldn’t rely on another company for the components and firmware for our controllers. We decided to go the latter and make improvements that I felt were limiting functionality on the previous PCB and take the hard road to find success. In many ways, it was a blessing in disguise as we were able to create what we wanted at an unmatched level of quality. Our customers benefit from this decision as well as us.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I actually came up with six, I hope that is okay.

  1. I wish someone would have told me the importance of having the right team. I heard about it, read about it, but didn’t realize how vital it is until the time came to hire teammates that mesh together and are supportive of each other and their individual goals and recognize the success of the company stems from the team. Anything is possible with the right team in place. With that in mind, I set out and was patient to find the brightest minds in their area of work, vision, and passion for what they do. Having the brightest minds will propel us to success, and we are much more efficient working in that manor. In the beginning, we experienced what many companies experience as far as some teammates, and that’s when I realized having the right team will make or break us, and we have come too far for the latter.
  2. I wish someone would have told me it is a bit scary to start a business, and there are a lot of “what if” scenarios you will think of. Believe-I believe in myself, because I know to my core, I will do whatever it takes to be successful, create products that will be admired, and a company for other companies to look up to. We have our work cut out for us, but it’s only a matter of time. Keep pushing forward.
  3. Don’t forget about your family, spend a lot of time with them. Taking on this task of getting Smart Access Technologies has consumed a lot of time. I started this company while I had a full-time job. I tried my best to work on this company’s research and development at night when they were sleeping or really early in the morning before they woke up. Spending time with them is the best reminder of the sacrifices we make for a better future.
  4. You will run into roadblocks, but be prepared to overcome them. You need to be resilient and don’t give up. Starting a new business is not easy and as with everything in life, you will encounter some bumps along the road. Don’t get discouraged. Think outside the box and find solutions to those situations. It’s a good idea to expect roadblocks and plan accordingly: how am I going to efficiently, effectively resolve this situation with minimal impact on our operation?
  5. Welcome advice, listen and learn from others, and remember to surround yourself with bright-minded people who form a formidable team but always keep in mind your vision of the company you know where you want to take it. It is easy to be influenced by well-intended people who might think they know better.
  6. Don’t let stress get the best of you. Starting a new business can be very stressful, many times things won’t go as expected, and you will have to find other ways to keep moving forward. Take a break, go for walk. Take your mind out of the situation and decompress, you will have a clearer picture of how to proceed once you’ve been able to manage the stress.

So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?

I take a break from everything I’m doing and play with my kids. Nerf wars is a favorite in my house, but if you shoot mom by accident-we are all in trouble ☺. They give me the peace and joy I need to keep going.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Be kind, be helpful, do good. We live in a world nowadays where people can be very mean, especially through social media, since they are hiding behind a screen it is much easier to criticize others just because. It scares me to death to think about the type of world my kids will grow up in. We as adults need to set the example and raise our kids with good values, teach them to care about others, about nature, and about animals. We need to teach them to be kind and respectful to one another.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

The only person I’d like to have lunch with at the moment is my wife. The past two years have been very busy and we haven’t had much time for anything other than the kids and Smart Access; with COVID on top of everything, life has been even more challenging so I would choose to take my wife out to lunch.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can shop our smart locks at smartaccesstech.com.

You can also connect with us on social media:

Facebook: @smartaccessequipped

Instagram: @smartaccesstechnologies

Twitter: @sa_equipped

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


3 Essential Wellness Habits For High Performers During Coronavirus Pandemic

by Ted Ryce
martin-dm / Getty Images

10 Steps CHROs Can Take to Have an Impact in 2021

by Arianna Huffington

“Why you should always focus.” With Charlie Katz & Ray Zinn

by Charlie Katz
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.