Using football as an analogy for the digital world, attackers/strikers and b2c/b2b companies hog the limelight, relatively more, in comparison to their counterparts – the defenders and cybersecurity professionals. The reasoning goes like this – you can see the strikers and the b2c/b2b companies at work. They are scoring goals or making assists; and companies are buying, selling and informing consumers about their goods and services – which is their job. It can be seen.
However, come to the defenders and the security professionals. The best outcome of their job is something that did not happen. The goal did not happen. The threat did not materialise. Yes, we do see their tackles, their blocks and their interceptions. But most of the time, they’re positioned or they’ve set themselves up so well that their work cannot be seen. In football, this fact is corroborated by the fact that, the best defenders do not have the most number of tackles or the most number of blocks. The best defenders are those who did not have to make those tackles. They’ve positioned themselves that well (for readers interested in reading about numbers in football, we suggest ‘The Numbers Game’ by Chris Anderson and David Sally)
As the world races to connect everything, human and device to the internet, the amount of data that will pass through the hands of companies, data centres and individuals is mind boggling. Technology is a double-edged sword. It always has been. The printing press was a boon for the scientific enlightenment as it allowed ideas to be written and published for everyone. But it also helped hate-mongers to peddle their thoughts and spread them.
In the realm of cybersecurity threats – information like passwords, financial details, biometric identities, company secrets or trademarks and other sensitive material of personal and professional nature have increasingly come under the target of malicious hackers and institutions. In a world rapidly converging towards blending hardware and software, it is prudent to reason that cybersecurity firms will make their presence felt in more ways than one.
Today, at Bangalore Insider, we spoke to the founder of Sequretek, one of India’s leading cybersecurity companies. Below are the edited excerpts from our interaction.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Sequretek is the only cyber-security company in India and one amongst the very few to have its own end to end cyber-security products in the space of Endpoint Security, Access Governance, Threat Intelligence, Security Monitoring and Management.
Sequretek helps enterprises by providing:
Endpoint Security, which ensures that no malicious files enter your endpoint through applications & devices (using AI and ML), and self updates to fix existing vulnerabilities
User Access Governance, for access management procedures and compliance reporting and
Managed Detection and Response, where we do predictive threat analytics, threat hunting and threat mitigation. The log monitoring is carried out on a 24*7 basis for better incident response management.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
The Cyber Security industry from a customer’s point of view can be divided in the world of haves and have nots – where the Top 10% has access to everything whilst the rest have to make do without much of any. As they say the industry is for, by and to the elite.
If you look at any technology, it goes through a curve where there is complexity in the beginning and over a period of time it becomes simple and commoditized. Security industry is going the other way where every year new technology areas emerge in response to new threats instead of enhancing existing technologies, the result is 90 technology areas and 3500 different companies make security amongst the most fragmented market in the tech space. All these options make the life of Have-nots difficult since they do not have the resources to understand the what, why, when and how of their needs. There is way too much buyer’s remorse and consequential churn here.
Sequretek was born in 2013, therefore, with a vision “to simplify security by consolidating the technology landscape” and mission “to empower our customer’s growth without fear as their trusted security partner by simplifying security”. The key words here are removing fear attached security threats linked to the digital transformation that has become essential for our customer’s growth and the fact that we will make security simple and accessible to them as their trusted partner.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
For a large part of my career, I have worked in North America selling tech products to tech companies to accelerate their design of work. My IT expertise comes from working in senior leadership roles in companies like Rolta, NTT Data, Wipro, Cognizant, IBM and CMC.
My Co-founder, Anand Naik is a cybersecurity specialist who has worked with market leaders in this segment for close to 3 decades. He has previously worked with companies like IBM, Sun Microsystems and Symantec (India & SAARC).
Our previous roles have given us a sneak peak into the world of running a sustainable business, prepared us and the company for ups and downs, that has toughened us up today.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Sequretek is based out of Mumbai as it is the corporate capital of the Country, with its great connectivity pan India as well as with other countries, with growing number of co-working spaces, as well as a massive customer base comprising of both large and mid size companies make it an ideal base for our operations. Also, as both me and Anand are based out of Mumbai it was ideal for us to set up base in Mumbai. Since then, we have expanded and launched our offices in Bangalore, Gurgaon and US. Keeping in mind the 42 Million medium and small sized organizations in India and their desire to increase scalability, speed and efficiency directly implies implementing solutions for endpoint security and security management. Therefore, we think we are in the best place today.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
For any organization, startup or not, the question of relevance of what you do in your marketplace is something that the founder should always be paranoid about. Earlier it used to be decades before which the companies would be irrelevant; this has shrunk to be years. As customer preferences change with changing times and technology capabilities, for us at Sequretek we will have to continuously monitor the impact of the same to our customers and the commensurate security risk. We will need to continue to scour our horizon as well as the flanks to see if our offerings still make sense or make way for the new ones.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
Cyber security being a highly competitive market, there are ‘n’ number of players in the market today who offer their different point solutions. And with the complexity that each solution brings in, you need an additional resource with the correct skill-set to manage it, which in turn adds to the overall cost.
Our competitors particularly are the legacy players who have already established their brand name and some next generation players who offer multiple solutions for different problems.
We work with an aim “to empower your growth without fear by being your trusted partner and simplify security. Sequretek products offer cutting edge technology solutions (with inbuilt AI) for next generation threats. Our products are easy to use and implement, combine different technologies, thereby reducing the total cost of ownership. The threat landscape being continuously evolving, Sequretek highly invests in Research & Development, as we always want to stay relevant to the market.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
Work life balance is always a challenge for any working professional, more so if you are an entrepreneur where there is no dearth of challenges. The key needs to be an ability to switch off every once in a while to rejuvenate and recharge. For me it is my morning cup of tea in solace of swing and newspaper that gives me the right frame of mind to start the day and then once every few months a break from the routine either a visit to my village or vacation that helps me really unwind.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
In 2015, Sequretek secured $300,000 from a clutch of investors and raised Series A in 2017 from GVFL partners and Unicorn India Ventures. In 2018, we raised a bridge round of Rs 27 crore (approximately $3.7 million) from our existing investors – Unicorn India Ventures, GVFL, Sharad Sanghi, founder of data centre company Netmagic Solutions and a clutch of international investors also participated in the round.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
I really hope not! But having said that, I do get feedback that circumstances don’t affect me and I am able to show equanimity. Whilst, this is true for most times, stress does get to me and the way I have learnt to deal with it is in my own way without venting it out on others.
What gets you excited about this company?
The fact that we are able to make a difference in the lives of people we touch. I am proud of the fact that we are known to be a place for most freshers to build their cyber security careers, for more than 50% of our staff we are the first paycheck of their lives. With jobs being so scarce for the engineering graduates, the fact that we have been able to not only hire but convert them into security professionals I is a great feeling. The second is making India known as a cyber security destination. For long, it was always US or Israeli companies that led the market perception about security talent and technology. I am pleased to see how we have been able to make a mark for ourselves in this space and convince both domestic and international customers to use our product and services.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
I am an early riser and as I mentioned my day starts with a cup of masala chai and a newspaper. This one hour is something I relish, and I have the rare luxury, in Mumbai, of a place with a decent balcony where I get to enjoy the quiet morning. If I am in town, which these days is becoming lesser and lesser, than the next thing would be to hit the gym for an hour or so. Then on the road either to office or customer meetings, since the traffic in Mumbai has become a nightmare, it is a good time to either catch-up on conversations with your team, customers or friends. The rest of the day is spent between reviewing internal operations or customer conversations before you head back again on congested roads to hit home. Evenings I stay away from gadgets unless there is an emergency, try and have an early dinner and then go out for a walk, before hitting the bed.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Sequretek is a strong team of 300 + employees. Anand and I are a family and have been in the technology space for over three decades now. I met him in 1999 and then we were in touch when I was living in the US for over a decade. I returned to India in 2012 and around that time both of us wanted to collaborate and startup. During this time, we noticed how slowly Indian companies are warming up to digital transformation at all fronts. Payments were getting digital so was delivery of services to the citizens from both companies and the Govt. We saw this as an opportunity as more data gets transferred digitally, the need for security will be critical. This is what prompted us to join hands and launch Sequretek in 2013.
Know a great startup story or want to share your own? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you. For more updates follow Bangalore Insider on Facebook and Instagram.