After nearly two years of pre-market development, I’m excited to announce the launch of Verkada, a company dedicated to improving physical security for enterprise.
When Benjamin Bercovitz, James Ren and I founded Verkada in 2016, our vision was to bring the ease of use that homeowners have enjoyed for years from their security cameras to the levels of scale and protection that businesses require. With Verkada, we’ve created a system that streamlines the traditional security camera technology stack, removing the need for on-premise video recorders (NVRs) and complex network configuration. This unique architecture allows us to use the latest software advances to enable smart features like automatic tamper alerts and, in the future, real-time anomaly detection, facial recognition and preventive analytics.
Benjamin, James and I have known each other for a long time. We were undergraduate students at Stanford University together and, in fact, Benjamin was the one who inspired me to major in computer science. While at school, we helped create a system called CourseRank to allow students to more easily choose which classes they wanted to take each quarter. Eventually, CourseRank was acquired by Chegg. A few years after the acquisition, we started thinking about other problems we could solve with technology, and decided to set our sights on a new goal.
For a while, we iterated on a few different ideas, working out of my garage. We’re all engineers at heart, and we love to experiment with new approaches to solving problems. During this time, we built a prototype for a door lock that could be activated by facial recognition technology. We found the realm of smart, connected devices fascinating. Coincidentally, I had recently purchased several home security cameras in a quest to determine which would best fit my needs. I realized there was a clear difference between modernized systems that used smart software and older, legacy systems that seemed inadequate by comparison. Around the same time, we began talking to Hans Robertson, a co-founder and former COO of Meraki, about some of our ideas. He encouraged us to think beyond consumer-centric projects and consider the enterprise space as well. That’s when our idea took shape: we realized that larger operations like businesses and schools didn’t have the access to the same modern video security systems that were available for homeowners, and that using systems designed for a single home across multiple business locations simply wouldn’t work.
Verkada is our solution to this problem. We’ve completely reimagined video security, from installation to pushing software updates. Our system is easy to set up because it doesn’t require extra on-site hardware like NVRs, firewall equipment, or video encoders. Instead, all you need is the camera. Cameras are connected to the cloud, but each comes equipped with onboard, solid-state storage—enough for 30 days of continuous recording. The cameras send select metadata and activity-triggered footage to the cloud, which is then securely accessible in Command, our web application. As a result, you don’t have to worry about whether or not your local area network is strong enough, because our cameras are fully functional in low-bandwidth situations, including over an LTE network. We believe this hybrid approach is the future of enterprise video security.
We’ve designed our hardware to best complement the accompanying software, and are pleased to offer features like:
- Automatic tamper alerts
- System health alerts
- Activity-based searching through archives
- Full encryption, enabled by default without any additional configuration required.
One of the achievements we’re most proud of with Verkada is the integral role software and firmware updates play. Traditional security camera systems can take months to patch if a new vulnerability is discovered, and often, it’s the responsibility of the system administrator to make sure updates are installed correctly. With Verkada, we routinely and automatically roll out updates to our systems so that they are always protected from known and emerging threats. Our video monitoring system is advanced, but it also scales easily, making it ideal for businesses with many cameras across multiple locations. Using a smartphone, tablet or computer, you can easily access and manage all of your cameras in a single pane of glass.
The feedback we’ve received so far from our beta users has been quite positive. Local fitness company Palo Alto Fit uses Verkada to protect their studios. They have told us that the easy installation and simplicity of adding additional cameras when needed, combined with the on-the-go access via mobile devices, is what they most appreciate about our system. We also work with Morgan Hill Unified School District to secure several of their campuses. For these administrators, the appeal of Verkada lies in the ease of installation and superior performance in an outdoor environment with bandwidth constraints. As we continue to expand our customer base, we’re excited to see how other businesses and schools can use Verkada to provide peace of mind.
Our D30 and D50 camera systems are available for purchase today, largely facilitated by our $3.9 million seed round that was led by First Round Capital, with participation from other angel investors. In the coming months, we’ll also be using these funds to continue expanding our team with the best talent we can find. If you’re a software engineer looking to solve big challenges related to distributed data systems, machine learning or computer vision, we’d love to hear from you. Likewise, we’ll work to continue partnering with resellers, installers and integrators to help them get the most benefit out of using Verkada for their clients.
As we continue developing our product offerings, we plan to incorporate technologies like facial recognition to make our system even more efficient. We’re looking forward to constantly improving our product based off of customer feedback in order to provide the best enterprise security system possible.