Startup led by IIT-ian duo set to become ‘billion $ baby’

  • Ramsurya Mamidenna, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 27, 2015 13:17 IST

It was the middle of 2008. For the umpteenth time, Seclore founders Abhijit Tannu and Vishal Gupta were giving finishing touches to a presentation on their new company’s first product FileSecure. Their client was a senior executive in Reliance Capital.

The two were nervous. “We had some bad experiences. Of the many clients we spoke to, none had shown any real interest as they thought it was not possible... it was fiction,” recalled Tannu in his office in Andheri in suburban Mumbai, as a group of youngsters flitted around. “We wanted to be right this time, but how?”

He is referring to a product that has changed the way companies world over guard confidential information.

It has also, within five years, catapulted Seclore into becoming one of the three big technology firms to have been selected by TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs). The other two in the race included Delhi-based Vinculum Group, a tech provider for the retail industry and Pune-based Sokrati Technologies, an analytics firm.

TiE is an entrepreneurship trade body that spots billion dollar companies from start-ups and mentors them into global firms. Under the programme, Indian companies will be given office space and also supporting systems to grow their business in the US. One of the founders will move to Silicon Valley temporarily and will be mentored by senior tech executives from SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce Inc.

The recognition by TiE is a big boost for Seclore.

“Today we have presence in 23 countries in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and in other geographies,” said Tannu. With over three million users across 300 enterprises, the clientele is big; from Taipei Police to state bodies in the Netherlands.

But in 2008, the idea was being laughed at. “How can you control data that is residing in someone else’s computer? That is impossible,” was the frequent reply the two IIT-ians got for their concept.

Vishal, the younger of the two, suggested sending a practical demo before the meeting. They e-mailed the Reliance Capital executive a set of Seclore own documents and asked him to open it through Reliance Capital systems. The executive tried, but failed after multiple attempts. A second set of socuments sent also met with the same fate. Now, Reliance Capital was interested.

Slowly word spread about FileSecure and by 2009, the company was a hit.

The “billion dollar baby”, as TiE voted Seclore, is a simple concept: developing security that not only ring fences targeted content, but travels with the content irrespective of the medium and protects it from unauthorised access even over multiple usage.

“Traditionally security software was perimeter driven. There was no control over the information once it left the initial perimeter,” said Tannu, a chemical engineering graduate from IIT Kharagpur. “Our software allows you to share the same information among multiple users but you continue to retain control.”

Seclore’s product secures data over different devices including mobiles, laptops, tablets or hi-tech computers, or even on the cloud.

Seclore was founded in 2008 by the two — Gupta, 36, is the CEO, while Tannu, 42, is the CTO. Gupta is an IIT Bombay pass-out.

The two met in 2000 and shared a common interest — devising technology that will aggregate data. Their first venture was Herald Logic, which was incubated at IIT Bombay, and is now a market leader in sales and channel management. After selling off Herald Logic, the two again incubated their second idea with IIT Bombay’s Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Seclore started commercial operations in 2010, but as Tannu said, “we were facing a financial crunch. We had to choose between investors and revenue to raise funds. We chose revenue as we were more comfortable with customers. The seed money came from relatives and friends.”

By the time Seclore started tapping investors in 2013, they had a successful enterprise. The company raised $6 million in initial funding last year from Helion Venture Partners and Ventureast Proactive Fund and is planning a second round of $20 million.

How do the founders divide responsibilities? “Vishal is focused on growing the company, while I am interested in technology,” said Tannu.

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