Phil Dumas, a UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) ’05 alum, beat out more than 24,000 applicants for the opportunity to compete on the ABC reality show, “Shark Tank.”
On the May 18 episode, Dumas presents his business concept to the ‘sharks’ (the panel of investors) in hopes they bite big and award him investment cash to grow his business.
Dumas is president of Unikey Technologies, makers of a Smartphone application-based entry system for the home. The product allows a resident to simply touch their door to enter their home – no key is required – as long as they have their Smartphone with the Unikey application in their pocket or purse. The product experience is based on today’s keyless entry systems on automobiles, where one can access their car without using a key or pushing a button. As long as the key fob is on them, they simply touch the handle and the car unlocks.
Dumas, who holds a UCF bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, credits his college experience in CECS for the foundation and inspiration that led to his business idea.
“My senior design project at UCF was a system that opened a car door using a cell phone,” Dumas said. “You called your car, entered in your password and the doors unlocked.”
After college, Dumas worked for a small consumer biometrics company that specialized in fingerprint recognition technology. There he worked on a fingerprint door lock system, the SmartScan, which was the first biometric product to get into major home improvement stores.
After leaving the biometrics company, Dumas learned how to run a business while working in the private equity field. All the while, he said, he continued thinking of ways to revolutionize the access-control market.
“I’m an engineer at my core,” Dumas said. “I kept asking, ‘why does the mass market use such an antiquated access system for the home and most other access-control points?”
Using Smartphone and Bluetooth technology, Dumas developed the Unikey idea and launched Unikey Technologies, which joined UCF’s business incubator in 2010. Because of its rapid growth and success, the company ‘graduated’ from the incubator later that year.
The company is now working on the Unikey system with a major lock company but needs capital to make it happen.
Will the Shark Tank judges bite? Find out by watching the series, which airs Fridays, at 8 p.m. Eastern, on ABC. The air date of the episode featuring Unikey Technologies is May 18.