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How One Entrepreneur Stayed True to His Intuition

And Successfully Disrupted the Locksmith Industry.

Image courtesy of KeyMe
Greg Marsh may seem like your typical tech entrepreneur – young, educated and opportunistic. He saw an opening in a relatively uncrowded and outdated industry, and took advantage of it. While his background and qualifications have equipped Marsh to make sound business decisions, they are not what differentiate him as a leader. Rather its his intuition and staying true to his core values of teamwork, collaboration and wellness that have fostered a strong team culture that has allowed KeyMe to experience experiential growth.

Like others before him, Marsh had an unpleasant experience with a locksmith. Shortly after moving to New York City, Marsh’s wife found herself locked out of their shared apartment. What should have been a routine experience with a neighborhood locksmith turned into a harrowing situation where she was met by an unscrupulous man who showed up in an unmarked van and charged $300 to simply drill the lock.
Image courtesy of KeyMe

Despite unsettling both Marsh and his wife, the situation flipped a switch in him. He took this experience and saw an opportunity to correct what was clearly a broken industry, not only for his wife, but also for the countless other individuals across the country who have likely experienced similar situations. After countless hours of research into the space, Marsh discovered a huge opportunity. He quickly learned that the locksmith industry was even larger than he had imagined and was only continuing to grow. In the U.S. alone, the industry generates $10 billion per year. Despite being around as long as locks, Marsh quickly realized that the locksmith industry had seen virtually no innovation.

“I believed technology could deliver unmatched value and customer experience for home-access services,” he said. “Think key duplication, lockouts and vehicle keys.” From there, Marsh followed his intuition. He dropped out of business school, met with top engineers, conducted more research and started to build out what would later become KeyMe.

Since the company began, in 2012, it has experienced tremendous growth. Like other founders whose businesses experience rapid growth and expansion, Marsh has faced the common challenges of work/life balance, burnout and employee retention. However, what has set him and KeyMe apart has been Marsh’s ability to stay true to his instincts with regard to all aspects of the company. Health and wellness has proved to be no exception, especially when it comes to KeyMe’s team and culture.

Image courtesy of KeyMe

According to Marsh, a lot of founders and early-stage teams get burned out because they aren’t deliberate about creating balance. KeyMe, however, is different. “On the company front, culture is the really big tool to create a healthy and productive environment,” says Marsh. As the company continues to grow, Marsh has kept this guiding principle on culture top of mind. “Aside from the amount of hours team members work, a lot of companies have cultures of blame and friction between teams, which massively exacerbates already high stress levels,” says Marsh. “Creating a culture of collaboration that is aligned on goals, interdependencies and has a shared view of success is hugely important.”

Maintaining a collaborative culture has been hugely important in who Marsh has hired at KeyMe. Aside from ensuring that people are qualified for each position, he has had to stay true to his intuition and guaranteed that all candidates are also advocates of a collaborative culture and a lifestyle of health and wellness. “Team and culture are the foundation for everything a startup will accomplish,” says Marsh. Therefore, according to Marsh, it is imperative to put outsized focus and energy into these two things.

He continues, “Health and wellness are hugely important. The most important element to any early-stage company’s success is how its team executes. Consequently, having a team that is working hard, but that is also mentally healthy is a major input into that execution.” In order to avoid being an office that experiences high turnover and burnout, Marsh says that he makes sure the office incorporates daily activities to keep things fun and active. “We do things like daily planks in the office to mix things up during the day and have a fun committee, which plans team events outside of work.”

The emphasis that Marsh puts on health and wellness for his employees stems from his dedication to maintain balance in his life. “Every founder struggles with work/life balance,” he says. “It is simply not possible to successfully found and build a company from scratch without testing and straining all elements of your personal life.” Not only does this refer to the number of hours worked, but more so the stress and 24-hour availability that key stakeholders require of startup executives.

Despite immense pressure, Marsh has become incredibly disciplined about carving out time for the personal priorities that are extremely important to him, including getting outdoors, reading and spending time with his wife. He claims that a combination of these things not only helps him to feel balanced, but actually makes him more productive. “It is key to find tools and strategies that help you to be disciplined during important personal time so that you can ensure 100 percent of your energy is put into these significant commitments and relationships,” he says.

Hiking is one of the strategies in which Marsh is referring to. Not only does this allow him to boost endorphins, but it also allows him to mentally and physically get “off the grid” for a few hours, which he finds highly regenerating. “There is a lot of value in being completely disconnected from your phone and the Internet for a short period of time,” he says. “This allows you to de-stress and get into a really healthy mental state.” In that same vein, when something gets too stressful or overwhelming, Marsh goes for a walk around the block and leaves his phone at his desk. This regrouping tactic allows him to recalibrate his state of mind to address new challenges head on.

In order to disrupt a broken industry, it takes the right skills, the right research and the right technology. However, in order to start, lead and grow a successful technology start-up company, it requires all of these things plus the right team and the right culture. Greg Marsh has ticked off all of these items, and we’re excited to see what KeyMe does next.
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