Ottawa-based Zighra raises $1M seed round with expansion plans in 2017

Zighra is hoping to double its local presence and expand its customer base in the New Year after a stellar 2016 that saw the Ottawa-based company land a pilot project with Barclays, win “Best Tech” at the C100 48 Hrs in the Valley, and raise a seed round of $1 million.

The firm, an Invest Ottawa portfolio company, develops security software in the unique space of behavioural authentication. The technology analyzes mobile users’ behaviour patterns, such as how they hold a smartphone or swipe through their apps, to verify their identity and prevent fraud.

The seed round was led by the Investment Accelerator Fund, Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Zighra CEO Deepak Dutt says the company raised the round to help find new customers, specifically in mobile banking and mobile commerce.

“We want to go into acceleration mode,” he says.

The company received a significant boost from the United Kingdom-based bank Barclays when the company participated in its Techstars accelerator earlier in the year, which it parlayed into a pilot project with the massive financial institution.

“I think that’s what kickstarted everything else,” Mr. Dutt says. Zighra’s participation in Techstars exposed the company to the U.K. market, where Mr. Dutt says fintech is booming. In North America, Zighra’s customers include top Canadian financial institutions and a number of large American insurance companies, he says.

This month, Zighra joined two other Ottawa companies, Solink Corp. and Mindbridge AI, at the C100 48 Hrs in the Valley, a biannual cohort of Canadian companies visiting and networking with business leaders in Silicon Valley. Mr. Dutt says a community began to form over the brief but intense trip, where the companies gained mentors, advice and connections to potential partners and investors.

One of the Zighra’s takeaways from the trip was adopting an “always hiring” mentality. To that end, Mr. Dutt says the company is hoping to expand its Ottawa presence in 2017, growing the current staff of six full-time employees by another six by the end of the year.