For the past eight years, Forbes has sought out the most influential leaders and stand-out entrepreneurs to join their prestigious “Under 30” community. To be nominated for one of their twenty categories, one must be changing the way we live and impact the future in a revolutionary way. Luke Schoenfelder, the founder of smart access company Latch, was a 2018 inductee, recognized for reimagining something as habitual as breathing: the way we lock and unlock our doors.
Luke started the company with one goal in mind: to disrupt the way we view ‘access’ using futuristic technology. Locks have always existed under the premise of keeping certain people out, but Latch is centered around how best to let people in – allowing buildings to open and manage every door from a smartphone. With high-tech features and a seamless design, these smart access locks are heralding an age of modern tech for the home.
A Georgetown alumnus and former Apple employee, Luke has always had an entrepreneurial edge. “In order to build the type of product and experience I wanted to create,” Luke says, “it was important that we get the independence to go out there and make bold moves, bold mistakes, and adapt more rapidly than larger companies typically can.”
We met up with Luke in Latch’s spacious Manhattan office, the atmosphere which perfectly complements the futuristic, creative nature of the business. In a conference room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Hudson Yards, we sat down with Luke, who slipped on the Triple F.A.T. Goose Eldridge and shared a bit about his story and what it took to secure a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
“Being an entrepreneur is the best job,” Luke says, “as you’re given the opportunity to create a team to solve a problem in the way that you choose. It’s a powerful responsibility and an unbelievable amount of work and stress. Ultimately, the payoff from seeing people love your products makes it all worth it in the end.”
That being said, the journey is not always easy, and failure is often implicit in the endeavor, for which Luke advises staying as even-minded as possible: “Someone told me once that entrepreneurs only know two emotions, pure elation, and pure terror,” Luke says. “If you pinball back and forth between those two extremes you wear yourself out. I try to stay more even in my reaction no matter what is going on. I don’t always succeed, but that’s my goal.”
That is something that Luke believes contributes not only to his personal growth but to the growth of his company, where he spends so much of his time. He takes the time to build and cultivate a team whose individual talents, abilities, and passions synergize and benefit both the individual and the growth of the company.
"Thinking along these lines allows me to surround myself with other forward thinkers, techies, and entrepreneurs,” Luke says. “That is why I take curating that group of people at Latch very seriously."
“I [also] try to be a positive contribution to the people that have me in their average and the people I surround myself with,” Luke explains.
Being a part of a creative team with minds such as Thomas Meyerhoffer (who has worked for Apple, IDEO, and Porsche) is how Luke attracted the attention of Forbes . But how exactly did they come to be selected? After all, there are many eligible candidates for the same category (Consumer Technology, 2018). According to Luke, there’s more to it than you might realize.
“It is a fairly extensive process,” Luke tells us, “involving nomination by folks in your industry, review by the Forbes team, an invitation to apply, a lengthy application process, and the final selection. At each stage, a subset of nominees is eliminated until they have the 30 Under 30 for each category identified. Overall, it is one of the most involved award processes I’ve been involved with.”
Now, there are some requirements that all nominees must meet to be considered eligible for qualification: a cutoff age of 29, not having been listed on the 30 Under 30 before, and having made an impact on the community/world, to name a few. While Luke passed these prerequisites, we were curious to know what is it about Latch specifically that secured their spot on the 30 Under 30.
“Latch is the combination of all of the things that I’ve learned and experienced,” says Luke. “We have a really interesting business in that we make physical devices, sell enterprise software, provide a totally new consumer technology, and enable new experiences around deliveries and services. We could have likely been nominated in another category, too, but our nominators thought this fit best.”
What was considered futuristic thirty years ago is now a reality, outmoded, or nonexistent. Living in a fast-paced world, the technology integrated into our everyday lives is changing and evolving every day. When it comes to Latch and the smart access market, Luke believes that there is so much more innovation in store to change the world.
“We’re excited to be a part of evolving the ways that people live and work in urban environments,” Luke shares. “Access is something that everyone interacts with multiple times every day and our goal is to make that experience easier and faster while enabling totally new use cases and business built within our ecosystem. We’ve built an amazing tool and now we’re just about ready to see all the things that people will do with it. It’s a truly exciting moment!”
Luke is at the forefront of enhancing consumer technology through Latch. With so much potential, Latch is opening doors for revolutionary tech design and smart home possibilities. We would like to thank Luke for giving us special insight into the future and for telling us more about his story and how he became recognized by Forbes for his contributions.