Sramana: You said that you launched the company in 2006 but you had to stay with IBM for a while, so you were not able to work on the company full-time until 2009. What happened between 2006 and 2009?
Ricardo Villadiego: We were searching through different technical approaches to tackle the problem.
Sramana: So you were doing R&D work to evaluate different potential solutions while you were working for IBM?
Ricardo Villadiego: Yes, that is correct.
Sramana: During that three year period, was anyone else involved?
Ricardo Villadiego: I was the founder with my best friend from the university and my wife. During those three years, we added our Vice President of R&D. He was the one who built the prototypes. Those prototypes turned into our comprehensive solution several years later.
Sramana: How did you fund the company during that timeframe?
Ricardo Villadiego: The founders put in the money. It was mainly my money along with some credit card financing. We took any option we had, but we were also patient and we believed that we were on the right track of building something huge. But we primarily financed it with our savings.
Sramana: Did you have any customer input?
Ricardo Villadiego: At some point, we did. In the beginning, however, we only had our vision. We saw fraud going through the roof. It was all over the news. I remember the major phishing attacks that hit Visa and Citibank. Those attacks were creating a lot of noise in the press. That was confirmation that our decision to design around fraud prevention was right.
We started doing theoretical analysis and then when we had prototypes, we started to use them with some of our close clients in Latin America.
Sramana: Who were your clients and how did you get them to engage with you in that early stage?
Ricardo Villadiego: Our platform was born for financial institutions such as banks. That is the vertical that has faced the largest share of the problem. That is not to say that the problem is not moving around other verticals, but in the beginning, banks were the cornerstone of the problem. We relied on friends that I had made throughout my career. I had gone to Unisys to build an ATM driver and that helped me create a lot of relationships. Entrepreneurs must be able to create relationships and foster relationships. Those guys that I met 20 years ago when I was writing code grew within their companies. Some of my friends are now Vice Presidents and they reached out to me to see what my vision of the company was.