An Ottawa cybersecurity company is taking its solution to market with the feds behind it, thanks to a program focused on giving startups their first step into the industry.
Kanata-based inBay Technologies develops an authentication solution that substitutes a smartphone for usernames and passwords. The firm markets its solution to enterprise customers, purportedly providing a more secure login process and better protecting user information than traditional portals.
President and CEO Shane Young says the need for cybersecurity solutions has been increasingly relevant since the start of this year alone. A cyber-attack last week crippled Ukraine’s banks, hospitals and government. WannaCry, a widespread ransomware hit more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries last month. Increasingly, Young says, cybersecurity is top-of-mind for governments, their citizens and emerging startups around the world.
A $500,000 contract won under the feds’ Build in Canada Innovation Program will see inBay implement its “trust-as-a-service” solution with Shared Services Canada – an enormous early customer that can go along way in validating the firm’s solution to other prospective clients.
“Probably the single biggest challenge that all companies face … is acquiring that first customer,” says Young. “Quite frankly, in terms of being successful in building a tech startup, 10 per cent is all about the product and technology, 90 per cent is trying to sell it.”
Young, a multiple-time founder and an engineer by trade, says tech startups – especially those in cybersecurity – face increasing global competition. A Canadian startup that can receive a boost from its own government may be an unfair advantage, but he says it’s entirely necessary to be competitive.
“That’s where this program came into play for us,” he says. “That gives us a big leg up.”
The Build in Canada Innovation Program began in 2012 after a two-year trial period. Companies still looking for their first sale can apply to have their products validated and implemented by a government department. Solutions from categories such as healthcare, biotechnologies, clean-tech, and safety and security are eligible for $500,000 contracts, while those based on military applications may receive up to $1 million.
The program is meant to “bridge the pre-commercial gap” and get Canadian startups and products into market, something often high on the lists of public servants, tech executives, researchers and advocates.
Over roughly six months, Shared Services tested inBay’s solution, evaluating its claims that it was easily implementable and provided the airtight security the company advertised. While onerous, Young says the extended process will benefit the firm in future sales.
“If you can come out of the other side with all the ticks in the boxes … that gives us a lot of confidence when we go to others.”
While inBay’s product is currently marketed towards enterprise customers, the opportunity for selling directly to users is available at virtually every login interaction. After this first boost, Young has confidence in expanding the 15-person firm’s solution around the world.
“Things like this, if they’re done properly, can make a difference,” he says. “That’s one of the things in Canada that we’ve got going right.”