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In Conversation with Nandakishore Harikumar, Dinson David Kurian, & Rakesh Aikkara from Technisanct

1. Tell us about your company. When was the company founded? Who were the founders? Tell us more about their backgrounds.

Technisanct is a big data cybersecurity start-up headquartered in Bangalore and having its office in Kochi. The company started its operations in February 2018 offering managed services in the field of digital risk management and subsequently launched its Digital Risk Monitoring tool “Integrite”. Technisanct is backed by the Data Security Council of India, IIT Mandi, India Accelerator, and Kerala Startup Mission.  

Our mission is to fight the issues of cyber threats, spreading of misinformation, privacy and data breaches, using big data and artificial intelligence. Every year millions of data get breached that are discovered way too late at times after many years. The risk of damaging brand reputation and financial loss can be mitigated if breaches can be detected as early as possible. To Empower the clients, tackle the various digital risks, Technisanct has developed its proprietary SaaS-based AI-powered digital risk monitoring platform, Integrite. The AI-powered system is built with a high-level capability to identify even the smallest link in cyber threats thereby reducing the shortest gap in threat management. To date, we have served over 10 clients in various verticals as subscriptions and POC’s.

Founders:

Nandakishore Harikumar – Our Founder & CEO is a cybersecurity researcher who has been working with clients, including a unicorn, helping them tackle their cybersecurity risks and brand reputation. He has over eight years of experience in digital risk management. Prior to Technisanct, he has co-founded two product companies including a cybersecurity company based in Delhi which was primarily catering to Government agencies. An engineering graduate in Information Technology he had also successfully founded a product company during his early entrepreneurial endeavors.  

Dinson David Kurian – Co-Founder & CTO has proven experience in building scalable web applications and has completed several enterprise-grade projects in his career. He has worked with AT Kearney, a leading global consultancy firm, and handled the development and delivery of a B2B enterprise project for Telkomsel, Jakarta. He joined entrepreneurship by starting his Software development agency in Kochi and then joined Technisanct.

Rakesh Aikkara – Co-Founder & COO has experience in multiple industries like realty, healthcare, and sports management. Rakesh started his career with one of the largest realty groups in Kerala, Mather, gaining immense experience in Operations and Finance management. Key roles included project management, budgetary, strategy formulation, finance management, etc.

2. What inspired you to start your venture in this particular domain? 

Our Founder Nandakishore was an Internet Risk consultant to various Corporates and HNIs. With the experience he gained as a consultant he understood the huge potential in the digital risk management field which was still in its very early stage. His close associations with various brands helped him understand the problems they face in digital risk management where there very hardly any solutions available not speak of the massive cost involved in obtaining such services. He then decided to start his venture leveraging his domain knowledge with the intent to provide a comprehensive and simplified product cost-effectively to make it affordable to even SMEs too.

3. Brief about cyber-attacks affecting national issues?

The data breach is the main thing that needs to be tackled. Even our critical infrastructures are regularly hit by Nation sponsored attacks. We know that every crime is somehow linked with Cyber these days. Deep forensics are needed to get a larger picture of the crimes happening but on the other side, we have to have clear cybersecurity strategies too. Start from pharma all industries are the victim of cyber-attacks. Apart from this, we believe even our future elections could be the target for cyber-attacks. We already identified potential phishing scams that were popular during these latest elections. They were under an election theme. Considering the individuals are very vulnerable to a phishing attack in India we believe bigger campaigns could happen like this in the future.

4. Explain how the industry and the competition in this particular segment. It would be great if you can share some market trends in the industry.

A joint study by PwC India and the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) says that the cybersecurity market in India is set to grow from USD 1.97 billion in 2019 to USD 3.05 billion by 2022, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.6.%. The growth rate is nearly 1.5 times the global growth rate of cybersecurity expenditure. The report further states that data security products will grow at a CAGR of 22.2% in India. The growth will be the fastest in the world.

The PwC-DSCI report says that the BFSI sector will increase the cybersecurity spend to USD 810 million by 2022 at a CAGR of 16.1% and other sectors are expected to grow to USD 949 million by the same period at a CAGR of 14.6% (Healthcare, energy, automotive).

5. Challenges faced in founding your company and in the subsequent time period? How did you overcome these difficulties? Are there any takeaways from them that can help in furthering the growth of your company?

Technisanct as mentioned above was founded in early 2018. It was still an early stage for the digital risk management market in India. The key reason being a lack of a strong regulatory framework like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Parliament on the accountability for maintaining data safely by an organization. Indian Cyberlaw only a single act in-store, the Information Technology act of 2000, that defines cybersecurity only as lip service to the cybersecurity legal framework. This meant that the Indian companies took the cybersecurity risks casually as there as there were very few legal ramifications involved in case of any untoward incident. 

It was more of a reactive approach rather than a proactive approach. The effort involved in convincing a prospective client was very high and in most of the cases, they felt that their organization is safe. Another major factor was that due to the lack of proper awareness the SMEs in India thought that their size was too small for any threat actor to carry out an attack on its network. Now the scenario is fast changing and the companies are getting more and more aware of the importance of robust proactive cybersecurity measures to be adopted in their organization. Funding for cybersecurity companies is another deep challenge many of those investors consider cybersecurity as one single field they just come up with a set of questions and to an extent, we have faced questions that are not related to us. We cannot blame them too either as they can only invest in something that they know. Also, the client conversion period is comparatively high. It takes at least 3-4 months for a brand to decide on which cybersecurity brand should use

6. Your journey so far, your current team, and also its customer base and revenues.

Technisanct started its journey as a cybersecurity service company providing consultancy to many major brands across India. We were relying on numerous data sources to fetch leaked data through a manual process and the same was taking an enormous amount of time and effort. Not to speak to handling these huge unstructured data and providing actionable inputs to the customers. This was the time our founder realized the need for a threat intel platform to improve the overall efficiency of the processes by cutting down the time taken to identify various digital risks. The market was also getting more conducive with more and more companies becoming aware of the need for such a digital risk monitoring service. As can be seen, attacks on Indian companies are showing a steep rise with more and more brands being the victim of these threat actors. With a high level of expertise required and organizations prefer to take services from competent partners like us.

Technisanct launched its proprietary SaaS-based digital risk monitoring tool called “Integrite” by the end of 2019. Powered by machine learning algorithms, Integrite has been helping brands to identify threats and vulnerabilities in their infrastructure at an early stage, thus, significantly reducing security incidents and compromising brand reputation. We didn’t wait for the full product to evolve before entering the market but rather tried to generate revenue from the product at the earliest. We are a fully bootstrapped company and relied on our revenue from the service vertical to fund the product development. This ensured that the team was focused on product development rather than looking for debt or equity financing. Within a couple of months since its launch, we were able to rope in paid customers on a subscription basis.

Some major discoveries by Integrite include uncovering the Malindo Air data breach which exposed details of over 30 million fliers, Credit Card and Debit card breach of major banks in the five Southeast Asian countries, unearthing fake Twitter accounts by the fake accounts by Pakistani nationals during the Ladakh stand-off between India and China promoting pro-china activism. We have served over 10 customers as subscriptions and paid POCs from the start.

7. Tell us more about Strengths of your company

Our inbuild capacity to monitor data non-invasively is the major advantage we have. We are working on the aspect of making cybersecurity simpler for brands. We are building a proper threat intelligence team who could give proper intelligence on the entire non-conventional platforms which would help brands to discover vulnerabilities much before its exploited. Our team is also working on a specific module called Vulnerability intelligence which is yet to be popular in India. 

Apart from this, we are working on multiple monitors which could gather total exposure a brand could have through its massive digital deployments.

8. What are the addressable market and underlying opportunities you are going after?

The intelligence response and detection products in India will increase to USD 504 million in 2022 at a CAGR of 14.8%. Quick reporting of breaches in cybersecurity and compliance requirements mandated by regulators makes organizations choose such service providers. The organizations are looking for offerings with automated AI/ML systems to make their security posture robust. 

The proposed regulatory frameworks like Personal Data Protection Bill will also fast track the growth with organizations forced for compliance.

9. How have you distributed your initial funds so far? Do you have any plan to raise funds in the near future?

Technisanct is a fully bootstrapped startup so far and has used revenues from our services to finance the product development and operations. But now the market growth accelerating we understand the need to scale our operations and complete the enterprise version of Integrite. We have decided to go for external funding to aid the scaling up. Technisanct is looking to raise seed-stage investment of around Rs.30 million at this stage. The fund will be primarily used for product development and launch the enterprise version, onboard resources and scale up the business development. 

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