One billion people in the last five years have lost information on the Internet; hacktivism and cyber-crime are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and yet, much of our data remains unprotected or safeguarded. Prot-On is working to resolve online insecurity provisioning pioneering software to secure user’s digital security and document usage rights in the Internet. Currently gaining ground rapidly in the B2B market segment they aim to become the worldwide reference in solving protection issues that individuals and enterprises share alike in hosting their information online.
KITE Invest: Prot-On’s application allows users to manage and protect information that increasingly shared by the Internet via a myriad of online channels. How has Prot-On found their product received, and the need for greater online security?
Oscar Maire-Richard: From the very beginning Prot-On has been very well received in big corporation and public administration. Corporations have awareness of security concerns, and they know the weaknesses of our competitors.
Regarding SMEs we have noticed an increasing interest in security during these last two years, and more concretely a clear focus on encryption solutions is arising in the last months.
Finally, in the B2C, the home-users, unlike what you may think, are aware with the need to protect information in the Internet; however ease of use and good user experience are more valuable for them than security. At this point we have learnt how to improve Prot-On within the B2C marketplace; however, currently we are focused on B2B and we are not planning to invest in digital marketing yet.
KITE: How does Prot-On keep up with the fast-moving disruptions in online information hosting patterns?
OMR: The increasing use of online services, together with the BYOD trend, outsourcing of key responsibilities and data in enterprises, and regulation about privacy and information security, are four clear drivers for the spreading of encryption solutions like Prot-On.
Prot-On is the perfect complement to all cloud services, and it is easily integrated with all of them through our REST API.
Although it may sound arrogant said by us, Prot-On is clearly the best data protection solution in the market. And now is its time.
KITE: Prot-on is a multi-award winning application and already been recognised for their excellence by the Google, BBVA and chosen as one of 18 Future Companies by the “They Could be Giants” Initiative amongst others. What has been the key to differentiating yourselves in this crucial market?
OMR: Prot-On is the only solution in the market that combines the requirements of big corporations with a focus on ease of use, as well as, interoperability among all type of users.
By “interoperability” I mean the possibility to share information not only inside a company but also with other enterprises and home-users, and these recipients must be able to access the information without any knowledge of the sharing or encryption tools used by the sender. For example, think about a clinic sending medical records to its patients or a corporation sharing financial reports with an external auditor.
Prot-On competitors can be classified in three groups:
o Cyphers: only provide encryption, assuring transit and storage; however once the recipient accesses the information gains full control over the information and is able to store it without safeguards and to send it to unauthorized third parties without protection.
o Safe-Clouds: storage solutions with security layers. From a security point of view, it is not « zero-knowledge-privacy » compliant, as files encrypted and decryption keys are kept together in the same service; it is like hiding the key under the doormat, or putting all your eggs in one basket.
o Old-fashioned IRM (Information Rights Management) from big software manufacturers, these are solutions that are only valid for big corporations, oriented to protect information inside the Company, lacking of interoperability with other companies or individuals. The user-experience is awful; and the corporations that introduced one of these solutions in the past have withdrawn it or just do not use it.
KITE: What will be the key to keeping compatibility and cost effectiveness as you become established?
OMR: Prot-On is founded over a great design, with proprietary technology, that makes possible the protection of any file format. It is the truth that the best user experience is when Prot-On is integrated as a plugin in the applications, and we cannot afford to develop plugins for every application. However, we already support the most common formats, and we can offer a SDK to the community so everyone will be able to integrate applications with Prot-On. This open interface will be the key to extend Prot-On when we become the reference solution for data protection.
KITE: Having already received €1 million plus in initial seed funding and successfully gained commercial traction, what lessons will Prot-On take forward in this Series A funding round?
OMR: Maybe the main lesson is that a short budget doesn’t allow entering in B2C in an effective way, therefore, this Series A will be focused on accelerate the international expansion in B2B marketplace, until we reach the break-even.
KITE: Prot-On hopes to consolidate the Europe and LatAm markets before seeing rapid expansion in the USA, how will Prot-On secure that vision in 2015?
OMR: With or without the Series A round we are investing in business development in key LatAm countries and Europe. Investors would help us to accelerate this expansion with more business developers, and marketing resources.
KITE: What benefits do you expect investor’s to receive with the €1m funding sought?
OMR: The Company’s vision is to become the reference solution to protect the information that enterprises and individuals are sharing and storing in the Internet. The society is demanding this standard and Prot-On is the only solution in the market with a product and a business model designed for achieving this goal. Therefore, we are offering to be part of a Company called ‘to be a giant’ (as recognized by European Business Awards).
Additionally Prot-On will likely offer easy exits to investors; in the medium-term, Prot-On can become an excellent acquisition target for:
- Big players in security industry without their own IRM,
- Cloud service providers, or infrastructure providers
- Or big competitors who could see in Prot-On a key move to increase customer base in a market that will choose a de facto standard in the near future.
Prot-on was a recent finalist at both The South Summit in Madrid and at the Computing Security Awards in London