How often have we been to a festival or participated in a sports event and found that there is just nowhere safe to store our belongings – except maybe in our cars miles away? And then we still have to carry our keys and mobile phone or risk having them stolen! Daniel Graham of LOCKED saw this obvious gap and came up with a mobile locker system that could be transported from the start to the finish. 

Tell us a bit more about Locked

LOCKED is a mobile locker business, that allows the user to keep their valuables safe with a phone charging system inside – aimed primarily at race events. No keys, bracelets etc. are required. Being mobile means that we are able to meet you at the starting line and while you race we safely move your items to the finish line.

Where is your business based?

The business is based in Cape Town, South Africa, however it can go anywhere around South Africa. I’m originally from Johannesburg but the shoreline kept calling me!

Who would you say your target audience is? 

My target audience is anyone and everyone! Unfortunately in South Africa theft is a massive problem. So how do you have fun and not worry? That’s where Locked comes in. One area we focused on solving is the big race where the start line is in a different location to the finish line. You arrive at 5:30am and whether you riding, swimming or running, there is nowhere safe to keep your items. Most athletes like to have recovery drinks etc. after and there is just simply too much to keep on you while you racing. We offer a safe mobile solution to store your goods.

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What makes Locked unique compared to your competitors?

We are the only storage system that has the ability to be at the starting line and move all your items safely to the finish line. Our trailer as a solar panel and back up battery offering a fully self-sufficient unit that is eco friendly. Our lockers also come with LED lights for night use as well as charge stations for mobile phones inside the lockers. No fancy codes, keys or bracelets. It’s kept simple and clean.

And how long have you been working on this project?

It’s been an idea for around two to three years but once I started planning it took six months to create, and I guess every day it evolves a little more as the needs and demands grow.

So the idea came to me one day at a festival. Our tents were so far away, my cell battery was dead and a tent is just not a safe place to keep any valuables. So the solution was… LOCKED. My passion comes from creating. I love building and creating ideas and seeing them come to life. It’s even better when I see people using these creations and their interaction feeds me.

What was your work background? 

After school I always wanted to be a mechanical engineer… suffice to say that never happened and I got into the IT industry… from internet support to web design and development to being an account manager for Twitter South Africa. I had a few businesses in between that I set up and sold off, including a chocolate fountain rental business, a business importing electroluminescent posters for branding and advertising and a carwash aimed at the luxury brand market… after two years of running this we bought out a panel beater that was in liquidation to include non structural repairs in our business.

This was probably one of the hardest businesses I have ever run. The learning curve was huge and demanded a lot of my time and patience, however after another year I decided this was not the right field for me and I sold the business, after which I joined Ad Dynamo – Twitter’s exclusive sales partner to South Africa. It was while I was here that I realised that I could not work for someone again and that’s when I decided to conceptualise and build LOCKED. I guess you could say I’m a serial entrepreneur and enjoy building business up!

What about your personal and family background? Where there any entrepreneurs in your family who inspired you?

I was a very ADHD child growing up. Almost every toy I had, I took apart to see and try understand how it works. I struggled with school, it never agreed with me… I just think it was the wrong outlet for me and the teachers didn’t know how to deal with me in a way that would inspire me.

My father sells domestic insurance and is a hard worker. He has definitely passed his business values down to me, especially customer service and managing expectations. My mother is a volunteer for CHOC (cancer and haematology clinic) which is a very demanding job and can be emotionally draining as she deals a lot with terminal children. My parents are both dedicated to what they do and have always offered the best service in their fields that they can, I guess that rubbed off on me.

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Can you remember any particular event that sparked this idea and set you on this path?

I used to take part in many different type of events. Running, swimming, cycling and even sprint triathlons… at every event no one had lockers and if they did, it was bag and tag… hardly safe. I saw a huge gap here that needed to be filled!

Do you have a business partner?

No, this is the first business I have set up on my own, and it’s very daunting taking on such responsibilities and being completely and totally liable.

Tell us about the most exciting or inspirational moment to date running this business, or even in life in general?

Its still early days but when I landed one event that I had my eyes set on…. That feeling… it was an awesome feeling, it felt like I had a good thing going and it was about to take off.

And the toughest moment?

The toughest moment was having to realise that I have left my job, taken all my saving and put them into this business.

Where do you want to see your business going in the next few years?

Wow, I would love to see multiple trailers all over South Africa supporting great events and making life easier for everyone. As tech improves so too will the trailers/lockers and concept.

And finally for someone considering their own business, what would the one bit of advice be that you would give them?

Nothing in life is easy and it’s not going to land at your feet. If you want to do something…. really really want to do something… you need to put in the hard work, the late hours and take that risk! Not everything will succeed but you will never know unless you try. More often than not, trying is all you need to make a success of what ever you do.