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Q&A with Seclore CEO on Information Rights Management Software

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Editor’s note: Often, enterprise goals of security and collaboration are mutually exclusive. Seclore, with customers in Asia, Europe and North America, resolves that dilemma. Seclore’s CEO, Vishal Gupta, discusses Information Rights Management trends as well as development of the company’s IRM product. This article is brought to SandHill readers in partnership with ProductNation  

SandHill.com: Please describe your company’s software product and your market. 

Vishal Gupta: Seclore is an information security software product company. Our core technology enables information to be “remote controlled.” So you can send me a document, image or email and then, after 10 days, if the relationship changes, you can press a button on your computer and the information will effectively vanish from my computer! Sounds Mission Impossible? It is definitely doable.

During the 10 days you also can control whether I can edit, print, forward or copy-paste from the document, image or email. You can also monitor who is doing what (tried to print the document) with the information, when (on Sunday morning) and from where (from his home computer).

The mission of the company is to help enterprises achieve the mutually conflicting goals of security and collaboration together. We currently have customers in the financial services, engineering services, manufacturing and defense sectors across three continents. 

SandHill.com: How does your product differ from other security products? 

Vishal Gupta: Seclore’s technology is different because it allows information usage to be controlled without the prerequisite of everyone installing a local agent. It is the most integration-friendly Information Rights Management (IRM) system in the world. Any person or system within the enterprise that is creating documents or emails can use Seclore’s technology for securing the information. 

SandHill.com: How did your company originate? 

Vishal Gupta: Seclore came out of the IIT Bombay incubator. The company was initially a campus project, which became a company. The company was launched with the specific mandate of providing a secure outsourcing solution to enterprises looking to outsource business processes. Over a period of time we realized that what we had created as a solution to a specific problem was in fact applicable in a much wider context.

The formal operations of the company were started in June 2006. The name Seclore comes from “Sec” (for “secure”) and “Lore” (for “knowledge,” as in folklore). So Seclore stands for Secure Knowledge. 

SandHill.com: What are some of the expectations you had at the outset that you’ve subsequently had to change? What caused you to realize those expectations weren’t realistic? 

Vishal Gupta: We knew at the time we started running the company that we were early to the market and the market will take time before it warms up to the idea of information-centric security. Our expectations were therefore contained to start with.

Once the technology did start picking up however, our expectations of customer adoption and growth grew rapidly — which we had to contain. Being an enterprise software company, we realized that geographic growth has to be backed with delivery infrastructure for sustenance. 

SandHill.com: What book did you read during the past three years that most influenced you, and how did it influence your thinking or your actions/decisions/vision? 

Vishal Gupta: “Crossing the Chasm,” by Geoffrey Moore. The book is a thesis of technology companies which have scaled and those who have not been able to and relates directly to our business. There were many learning’s from the book, but most importantly the book taught us why we need to say no to many, many things and develop an absolute focus on what we do. 

SandHill.com: Please describe one of your company’s lessons learned from actual experience and where it occurred in the time line of your product development. 

Vishal Gupta: A few years ago we decided to expand operations into Germany and therefore required a German language version of the product and collaterals. We initially decided to use automated tools to do the translation and communicate with German prospects. This led to many, many issues and some very embarrassing situations until we finally hired professional resources and did a proper job. The lesson learned from the experience was to not cut corners on important, customer-facing initiatives. 

SandHill.com: How did you get your first customer? 

Vishal Gupta: Alumni relations. The company was started within the IIT Bombay incubator; therefore, getting highly placed alumni to try it out for a price was easy. 

SandHill.com: How did you determine the right pricing for your product?

Vishal Gupta: The right pricing for us was a process of discovery and many, many iterations. We overpriced, then over-corrected and underpriced, and went back and forth before we came to the present pricing, which is based on numerous customers’ feedback. 

SandHill.com: What are the top three mistakes that companies make when purchasing Information Rights Management software? 

Vishal Gupta: The first mistake is having the expectation that the IRM system is a stand-alone system in a stack of security systems. Most enterprises form a view that IRM is a security application — which it is not. It may start as one but very quickly morphs into a security infrastructure for securing unstructured content. It is therefore critical for enterprises to acknowledge that IRM systems need to be integrated to existing enterprise systems like electronic content management (ECM), data loss prevention (DLP), mail and messaging, ERP, CRM, etc.

The second mistake is the mindset that the Information Rights Management is shrink-wrapped.  Most enterprises form a view that IRM systems are ready-to-use products similar to office productivity suites or anti-virus technologies. This is the case but only for very specific contexts of usage like securing board communications only or securing R&D information only. For larger, enterprise-wide rollouts, the technology needs to be “solution-ized” into the enterprise, i.e., integrated with existing systems, mapped to existing processes, configured to the enterprise and constantly tweaked.

SandHill.com: And what is the third top mistake that companies make when purchasing Information Rights Management software? 

Vishal Gupta: Trying to contain the usage of IRM to “internal collaboration.” In most enterprises the primary value driver for IRM technology usage is internal collaboration scenarios like internal emails, internal documents, etc. IRM technology’s primary value, however, is in “borderless” collaboration scenarios where information goes to external agencies, personal devices and cloud applications. Of course secure external collaboration comes with questions (e.g., How will the external users be identified? or Am I going to ask external users to install an agent on their devices?), which need to be answered by the IRM system.

SandHill.com: Based on the trends you’re seeing, in what ways do you think the Information Rights Management segment of software solutions will change over the next three years? 

Vishal Gupta: We see IRM as a method to implement security, privacy and compliance in the new world of social collaboration, cloud applications and enterprise mobility. We see information-centric security implemented by IRM as the only method that will survive the “SoCloMo” (social, cloud, mobile) wave.

We also see enterprises extending existing document management systems and data loss prevention systems to have IRM capabilities by integrating them with best-of-breed IRM technologies.

SandHill.com: If you could spend an afternoon this month with a top exec in a well-established software firm to learn some insights from the exec, who would you choose? 

Vishal Gupta: I would like to spend time with the user interaction designer of iPhone. 

SandHill.com: What’s your top advice for first-time entrepreneurs or startup CEOs? 

Vishal Gupta: It will take longer than you think. But stick to it! 

SandHill.com: What is something you’ve wanted to do for a long time but haven’t done yet? 

Vishal Gupta: Learn and practice yoga. 

SandHill.com: What do the next 12 months hold for your company? 

Vishal Gupta: The next 12 months will be very exciting times for our company. We have a string of strategic partnerships for non-linear growth lined up and also growth in markets beyond the present ones. A change of office and the launch of multiple mobile clients and apps are the developments expected on the technology front. We are also expecting to augment the management team. 

Vishal Gupta is CEO of Seclore. He is an electrical engineer by education and entrepreneur by passion. He has had the opportunity to set up, run and hand over enterprise software companies before Seclore. Gupta says that the possibility of creating something sitting in one part of the world that can affect lives globally excites him. He has lived and worked in Asia, Europe, the United States and Australia. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SecloreVishal. 

Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor of SandHill.com

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