First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andrew Gowasack : We are safe and healthy. We’ve been very fortunate.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company
Andrew Gowasack : I am an economist by training and began my career in financial services sales and marketing. I met my co-founder, Gareth, through my wife and we quickly hit it off given our shared interest in entrepreneurship. While we considered many startup opportunities, Trust Stamp was the most promising. The goal was to use objective data to evaluate the likelihood an individual is who they claim to be and analyze their level of trustworthiness. We thought peer-to-peer transactions represented the most interesting market opportunity to test their proposed solution. While performing customer discovery, they collected thousands of survey responses from Craigslist users and found over 45% of respondents would be willing to pay for a service that verified the identity of a stranger before meeting to transact business. We took this same approach with the online dating community and ridesharing users e.g. Uber/Lyft, P2P payments, and once again, found almost 50% of users would pay for the service. We then realized that tackling identity through a business-to-consumer (B2C) channel would prove costly and tough to drive mass adoption. Focusing on a B2B solution first would help validate their technology more quickly while funding operations through enterprise agreements. After discussions with a local VC, we decided the financial services sector was the best market to focus on first. In December 2015, I quit my job to go to our first incubator in San Fransisco.
How does your company innovate?
Andrew Gowasack : Trust Stamp is an artificial intelligence company focused on providing identity solutions at the intersection of biometrics, privacy, and cybersecurity. Our technology is unique and continual innovation is our strong suit. We have spent four years and millions of dollars developing identity solutions that deliver the secure, robust verification needed for digital transactions while protecting the privacy of individuals to an incredibly high degree. Trust Stamp technology safeguards biometric data by transforming it into an unrecognizable token that can still be used for accurate authentication, retaining the usefulness while eliminating the risk.
In light of COVID-19, our ability to rapidly innovate has been put to good use. We have been able to quickly develop new technologies that address the global crisis including filing patents for revolutionary touchless fingerprint technology, and a solution for privacy-protected, yet secure location recording. Known as Safe14, the application allows individuals to prove their location history without exposing any personal data.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Andrew Gowasack : We are a global company, with offices in three states across the US, and in the UK, Poland, the Philippines, the Netherlands, and Malta. Our team members were already accustomed to working closely together in a virtual environment. We are all saving time and costs of traveling, so we have budgeted for online professional development for every person in the company.
The need for secure identity solutions that establish trust in a virtual environment has increased as digital transactions become the norm, so our business has continued the upward trajectory that we were experiencing before the pandemic. Although we had to make difficult decisions when creating a game plan for forward growth that prioritized the financial and physical health of our team, company, and community as a whole, we are stronger today for it.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Andrew Gowasack : Earlier in the year when Trust Stamp was unsure about the effect of COVID-19 on business, we faced having to prepare for the worst, like many organizations. Even in that time of financial uncertainty, we made the
decision to keep all employees on board. Our team is Trust Stamp’s greatest asset in our mission to promote secure financial and societal inclusion and our work to provide solutions for this current COVID-19 crisis and the “new normal” that follows. The leadership team shouldered the financial burden of market uncertainty to support employees and maintain momentum through unprecedented times, and we are proud to say that now looking back, we made the best decision.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Andrew Gowasack : Not only did we make the active decision to keep our entire team, but in many cases, we added new members to help us meet the rapidly evolving needs of our customers while also establishing a new presence in industries that have been thrust into a digital transformation, as the global focus on “privacy by design” grows. With the rise in businesses needing to operate efficiently and securely online, there has been increased interest in our solutions across the board, from small businesses in the travel and hospitality industry to large enterprise financial service providers. Participation in the digitally connected world requires access to secure, private, trusted identity, so Trust Stamp’s future plans have only accelerated as a result of the pandemic. In fact, we are currently preparing to publicly list on the Euronext Growth Market and become a publicly-traded company in the next quarter.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Andrew Gowasack : Biometric authentication is rapidly scaling, with many companies providing AI-based identity verification services using biometrics. However, we have not found another company that can achieve our core proposition of transforming biometric data to protect user privacy while working across modalities and systems to break vendor lock-in and maintaining the usefulness of identity data to enhance institutional security. Our anonymization and de-deduplication technology sits between biometric service providers and the data users, turning our perceived “competitors” into potential partners that benefit from our proprietary solutions.
Your final thoughts
Andrew Gowasack : The entire Trust Stamp team has shown resilience and strength in facing this incredible moment in history. Business and financial metrics aside, an organization’s ability to power through difficult times through the team’s internal support and community that has been built over time is a less obvious but incredibly important indicator of success for any founder or CEO.
Your website and link
Photo : simplybuckhead
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