News & Events
Members of Cohort 4 of “Innovation Crossroads” graduated over the summer from the two-year program. One founder, Erica Grant, has continued to participate in panel and pitch events throughout Knoxville despite being busy planning for a pilot program, raising a seed round, and hiring at her recently renamed company now known as Quantal Security Inc. The company is focused on creating stronger security for door locking systems. Read our first teknovation.biz article on Grant here.
Grant said she was excited about the seed round, which was raised with local investors in the East Tennessee region. Grant said the round helped with more than just raising funds.
“My investors are strategic partners,” she added. “So that’s exciting as well.”
The funds have helped Grant (pictured here from her LinkedIn profile) start a hiring process for Quantal. In recent months, she has hired two senior software developers to boost product development..
Having just graduated from the “Innovation Crossroads” program, Grant said having the funding to do product development was crucial to Quantal’s growth, but so, too, was mentorship from Dan Miller, Program Lead, and Kelly Wampler, Business Specialist, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) start-up accelerator. Access to the lab and employees such as Peter Fuhrer, Head of the Grid Communications and Security Group at ORNL, also helped in building her business.
“They helped us not only from a product development perspective but also Peter has a lot of experience in building cybersecurity startups,” Grant said. “He was also a great business mentor for me as well, bringing a lot of perspective from the cybersecurity realm.”
Because her cohort started during the pandemic, COVID-19 made an impact on the work Grant did with her company. One business sector that she initially wanted to start working with was hotels. She was hoping to do pilot programs with that industry, but hotel businesses, like so many others, had to shift its focus during the pandemic. Grant’s focus for Quantal had to change as well.
“(Hotel’s) bottom line changed a lot. We’re dealing with COVID, and it got hit really hard,” she said. “The other thing was we had opportunities pop up with more high-security facilities that we thought would come later because they have a higher barrier to entry.”
Because of the shift in where she wants to run her initial pilot, Grant said the product changes slightly as well. Office buildings, enterprise, laboratory, and high-security y facilities have different needs for their security systems than hotels. Grant said her new pilot/demo is now on track for late fall of this year, and she hopes it will help provide Quantal with customer opportunities for feedback so that they can complete development of a production-ready product by summer of 2023.
Grant added she would like to start with enterprise office building/co-working spaces, utilities, and manufacturing facilities. The initial offering from Quantal would be access control that is hardwired to the wall with keycard/smartphone entry.
She also recently participated in the “Raising & Rising” event as part of “Innov865 Week.” You can read more about it here.
Grant said she hopes to stay in the Knoxville area. When looking for investors for the seed round, she started in some obvious spots such as Silicon Valley. But in the end, she said she found a better fit for investors right here.
“It seems like this area is starting to embrace entrepreneurs more and more, which I think is really excellent,” Grant said.