Sramana Mitra: What was the premise of this company?
Rob Douglas: We were then, and still are, on the quest for rightful identity. We believe that the trillions of dollars of fraud that lives in our economic system has a direct connection to the fact that we don’t actually communicate with real people but rather with credentials.
Coming from the biometric industry, I could see an impending futurewhere there will be billions of biometric sensors in the market and the world can’t consume them. The biometric sensor is a very efficient way of confirming your identity to plug into the world software application and get to, what we call, a rightful identity where you have a single identity.
Sramana Mitra: Who do you compete with?
Rob Douglas: Technically, we compete with any company that’s in the identity management space.
Sramana Mitra: So Okta and Ping Identity are your competitors?
Rob Douglas: Technically, they are. There’s a reason why, in the end, they’re not. We’re an enterprise class platform that’s cloud-based that actually plugs into an Okta. In fact, we plug into just about every identity company in the space as there are actually only two or three companies that are very similar to us.
Sramana Mitra: I see. Let’s go back to 2010. How did you get this off the ground?
Rob Douglas: I had been a student of what it is going to take to be an entrepreneur. While I was learning, I was also observing success and failure in the entrepreneurial world and looking at the key things I must pass before I’m prepared to go all in. I had formulated what that criteria were.
The very first one is that you have to have a dream or business idea that’s so compelling to you that no matter what happens in your entrepreneurial dream, you are going to be completely motivated to push through the greatest of obstacles you’ve ever seen in your life. If you’re not prepared to go all in, there’s absolutely no point in beginning your entrepreneurial life because the tests and challenges that you will face will far exceed anything you have experienced in your life. You have to have something that you’re just prepared to give every molecule of your body to. That’s one.
Second is, you have to burn the bridges behind you. You cannot have a backup plan. You cannot be in the world where if this doesn’t work, you’ll go try something else. There’s only one path and it’s forward. If you’re not prepared to make that kind of a commitment, I wouldn’t recommend the entrepreneurial journey.
From my perspective, those are the two biggest criteria. A third criteria is, are you solving a problem that is an unmet market need? I don’t see a lot of point in being an entrepreneur of something that already exists. Look for cracks and shifts in the market and focus your attention on those areas.
A fourth one for us is, pick something that can allow you to build subscription-based and recurring revenue stream. Number five is, be very clear about who your investing partners are. These partners are the ones who’re going to need to live with you when things look very dire.