Your data’s personal security guard

Your data’s personal security guard

With over 330 clients spread across 18 countries, Seclore Technology aims to be a dominant player in a niche area of information security across the geographies of Asia, Europe and North America 

DIVYA M. CHANDRAMOULI

When Abhijit Tannu and Vishal Gupta founded Mumbai-based Seclore Technology Pvt. Ltd. (Seclore) in 2005, their aim was to find a solution to one particular problem, that of information security in business outsourcing. “When corporations outsource a business process to an external vendor, their biggest concern is that of security. The question of ‘what happens to all our data?’ gets asked even today,” says Gupta, founder-CEO. As the duo set out to create a software that addressed this question, they found that the solution could have a more universal application. Post much iteration, they arrived at an information rights management (IRM) system which could be used by enterprises, world over. At present, Seclore has two enterprise IRM products, FileSecure and Infosource and both these are available in ownership mode or a hosted mode, where the organisation pays per use. The company also launched a cloud-based IRM system in July 2013 which makes information protection viable to smaller organisations.

Incubated at Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT-Mumbai, Seclore has come a long way from its fledgling days. Today, its system has nearly 3.5 million users from 330 organisations, spread over 18 countries. Its clientele spans across industries from financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and automobiles. Some of them include corporates like HDFC Bank, Reliance Money, Aditya Birla Group Asian Paints, Larsen and Toubro and Cipla, to name just a few.

How does it work?

In lay terms, Seclore allows enterprises to remote control their information. “Typically, when companies share their information, they can get the external party to sign a non-disclosure agreement but in reality, there is very little they can do about what actually happens with sensitive information,” says Gupta. Seclore’s solution provides enterprises the actual control of information post its distribution by defining what can be done with it. In today’s context there are many temporary relationships in business, for instance, when people are hired to work on specific projects. “While they are working on the project, an organisation would like them to have unhindered access to data but there is always this concern that after the project, these individuals retain access to an organisation’s intellectual properties. By using our products, the time period of access can be defined,” explains Gupta.

Typically, when companies share their information, they can get the external party to sign a non-disclosure agreement but in reality, there is very little else they can do about what actually happens with sensitive information. Seclore’s solution provides enterprises the actual control of information post its distribution by defining what can be done with it.

As Gupta states, the general notion is that when something is accessible, even in the case of information, its safety is questionable. At Seclore, the idea was to create a secure system that would ensure security compliance while allowing room for collaborative efforts. This concept of secure collaboration could start with something as simple as allowing employees unrestricted Internet and mobile access at the workplace. Gupta adds, “If somebody wants to use Dropbox at work, instead of restricting access, an organisation could define what he / she can do with their use of Dropbox.”

Easier, second-time around

For Tannu and Gupta, Seclore Technologies is their second startup. Post their graduation from IIT-Mumbai, the two entrepreneurs decided to monetise a project Gupta had worked on in his student days. This led to the creation of Herald Logic in 2000. The company, whose software helps in identifying important information from ‘less important’ information, was acquired by Melbourne-based Value Chain in 2006. After staying on as part of its senior management for a year, Tannu and Gupta moved on to their next business idea and thus, was born Seclore.

The founders took their idea to SINE and the company was incubated on the IIT-Mumbai campus. “This reduced our capital requirement quite significantly,” says Gupta. Subsequently, when its product was market-ready, the company required additional funding to market and sell it. It managed to meet this requirement through revenues and by raising equity and debt capital apart from support from friends and family.  In 2010, the company raised US $0.5 million from Ventureast’s Tenet Fund and other angel investors. By his own admission, it was a challenge to work with limited funds, yet it was a phase that Gupta enjoyed. “As an underinvested company, we had to constantly figure out ways to optimise our resources,” he says. In April 2013, Seclore closed its first round of funding to the tune of US $6 million from Helion Venture Partners and Ventureast. “Now, when we have the money, we have to review each process and see if it is a good use of our capital,” adds Gupta.

As this is the founders’ second innings in entrepreneurship, Gupta states that they have benefited immensely from past learnings, especially when it comes to hiring and team building. “We have learnt that the skill set we require is not easily available so we ensure that our training processes impart the necessary skill  that makes up for anything that is deficient,” he says. While working on multi-cultural, multi-lingual projects, there are several challenges that the team faces and the company sorts each issue with a ground-up approach. Currently, the team at Seclore is 90 people strong and the company has offices in Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Singapore and San Francisco.

While team building is one area where the company has better clarity, its primary challenge is aligning its products to suit global requirements. “We are constantly assessing to check the relevance of our products to our consumers,” says Gupta. While he expresses confidence in the company’s ability to tackle competition from other companies in the same space, Gupta’s major concern is about ‘non-consumption’ and the lack of awareness on information rights management and he wants to face this challenge by educating individuals and organisations on the pressing need for information security.

Courting growth, aggressively

The business of information rights and protection is certainly niche. According to informal estimates, the nascent industry in India is estimated to be Rs. 1,100 crore. As for Seclore, in the last three years of operation, it has managed to increase its revenues eight fold. Gupta expects the company’s revenue for the current fiscal (year ending March 2014) to be triple what it recorded in the last fiscal (year ending March 2013). While its business in Europe contributes nearly 65 per cent of its revenues, Seclore’s business in Asia brings in the remaining 35 per cent. To stay abreast with a revenue growth rate of 300 per cent, it has aggressive plans which include expanding operations into North America. A good part of Seclore’s first round of funding will be spent on this expansion plan and the rest will be utilised towards building its cloud-based IRM system. The company which also has strategic partnerships with independent software vendors will look to forge more partnerships which make business sense.

As Gupta signs off, he shares his immediate vision for his company, “Selcore will be a dominant player in a niche area of information security across the geographies of Asia, Europe and North America.”


Snapshot

Seclore Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Founders: Abhijit Tannu, Vishal Gupta

Year: 2005

City: Mumbai

USP: Information rights management system that allows enterprises to remote control their information

Investors: Helion Venture Partners, Ventureast

Investment: First round investment of US $6 million