FST21’s $5m earmarked for U.S. expansion

Integrators need to grasp philosophy of ‘in-motion identification’
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass.—The majority of the $5 million cash infusion FST21 received will be spent on marketing and sales in the U.S. market, Shahar Belkin, CTO for FST21, told Security Systems News.

“We want to be a big company in the field,” he said. “The next two years is a window of opportunity for us to grow in the U.S. market [before others copy the FST21 technology],” he said.  

Israel-based seed and early-stage fund LV Holdings led the fundraising round, which included other investors. LV Holdings invests in Israel-based new technology companies, but this is its first investment in the physical security space, Belkin said. 

Founded in 2007 by Aharon Zeevi Farkash, former head of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, FST21 had its first installation in 2009. FST21 is a provider of biometric access control products. 

Headquartered in Rishon Lezion, Israel, FST21’s U.S. operations are based here, outside of Boston. It has completed a number of high-rise buildings and residential complexes in the states including a recent project in New York’s Knickerbocker Village, “now we’re looking at large commercial buildings,” Belkin said. 

Currently, FST21 is working with 12 to 15 integrators in the state, and “we are very much looking for more,” he said. 

Integrators must attend FST21 University to get certified. “It’s not because the technology is challenging. We use standard IP cameras, networks and servers,” he said. Rather, it’s the non-traditional installation that integrators need to learn and the philosophy behind in-motion identification that they need to understand, Belkin explained. “Integrators all know how to install CCTV cameras, but in our case, [they’re not installed] nine or 10 feet high, it’s like six feet high, and they have to be pointed and focused in a specific way.”

Integrators also need to understand how to market the technology. It shouldn’t be marketed simply as access control or guard replacement, he said. To create pull, FST21 is marketing its product directly to certain end users such as real estate companies. 

“It’s security with convenience. That is the big difference; usually security reduces convenience,” he said. Motion identifications means “you don't need to go to a reader, use a card or punch in a code…that is a thing of the past,” he said. With FST21, “You yourself are the key.” 

FST21 is also planning to have a large presence at ASIS this year, with a large booth, “right next to HID” near the entrance to the show floor.