An estimated 30 billion devices are expected to be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020. Now more than ever, it’s critical to ensure all devices are secure and properly authorized, whether being used to conduct a transaction for online banking and merchant services, or on connected cars and other IoT applications.
I had the pleasure of interviewing HYPR, the leading provider of enterprise-facing decentralized authentication solutions that is working to improve security and reduce the risk of an enterprise data breach (such as another Equifax) by putting user credentials on-device rather than storing in a central database – making it more difficult for hackers to steal sensitive data.
What is your “backstory”?
The founding of HYPR was a completely random event. I really had no plans to start a security company. In 2013, my PC was infected with a seemingly harmless virus that was secretly mining bitcoin without my knowledge. When I found out and removed the virus, I was both irritated and interested. That whole experience sent me down a rabbit hole of bitcoin education, at which point I learned about blockchain and decentralization – and eventually became a bitcoin miner. I had earned a decent amount of money mining which was used to start HYPR, a decentralized security platform. That random encounter with a virus is the reason the company exists today.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
We have a long-running joke behind the company’s founding. I sold a significant amount of bitcoin I had mined to fund HYPR in the early days. Today, we have an inside joke to see if the company’s valuation and share price will outpace what would have been the value of my bitcoin if I hadn’t sold it. With bitcoin having broken $15,000 it’s only getting more funny to hear it from my colleagues. So far, we’re looking really good.
What exactly does HYPR do?
HYPR secures over 25 million users across the Fortune 500 with a technology called decentralized authentication. Major banks and enterprises such as Mastercard leverage HYPR technology to eliminate fraud, reduce the risk of breaches, and protect user privacy. The problem we are solving is the danger of centralized authentication, which is the cause of so many major data breaches. When millions of people’s private data is stored in a central database, it becomes a major target for hackers and is almost guaranteed to be breached. The secret sauce behind HYPR is decentralization – which ensures that user credentials such as biometrics, pins and passwords always remain securely encrypted on mobile devices. This removes the risk of a major credentials breach while enhancing individual user privacy and security. Hackers are no longer able to attack a central database with millions of users data, and must focus on attacking one device at a time – a method which is unscalable, difficult, and ultimately doesn’t pay off.
What makes your business stand out? Can you share a story?
The cyber security industry is really noisy. There are lots of companies and vendors trying to do the same thing. This creates confusion for the enterprise customer. HYPR stands out because we focus entirely on the concept of decentralized authentication, which is now at the top of every major company’s security shopping list. We once had a customer tell us that they had spent “3 years and millions of dollars attempting to solve this problem internally, only to find out it was solved by HYPR for a fraction of the cost.”
What are your “top things I wish someone told me before I Started my Business” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Nobody cares about how your technology works – but they do care about the benefits of your technology.
I think this depends on who you speak to, but if you’re working with large enterprises you should focus on the impact of your technology. Founders are typically technologists who get caught up explaining the HOW, when they should focus on WHY the solution is important to the user.
Spend less time pitching VC’s and more time getting to know them.
Venture Capitalists are regular people like everyone else. I think that the tech scene has deified and sometimes demonized the “VC stereotype” over the past decade. Founders are often intimidated or confused by how to interact with a VC. Once you get to know VC’s you’ll realize they’re normal people just like you and me and are not some computer program to be hacked.
Competition is great for everyone.
Don’t hate the competitors. You’ll thank your competitors later for forcing you to innovate. Trust me.
Focus on a few early wins instead of chasing lots of activity.
I cannot stress this enough.The early adopters and supporters of your technology are invaluable. Founders often get distracted chasing many conversations with lots of prospective buyers, when they should be focused on a handful of qualified and meaningful opportunities. You will grow your sales team down the line. Just focus on perfecting the product with those early wins.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this.
I would like to get breakfast with Deadmau5. I’ve listened to his music every day for the past 10 years and it has been a major influence on me. He’s not just a musician but a real technologist, and it’d be good to get his feedback on what we’re doing at HYPR over a bagel. I’d want to let him know that his discography is what kept me awake hundreds of nights it took to get this company off the ground.