First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Chaitanya Hiremath: Everyone is doing fine. Life has definitely changed for us all this year, and we look forward to getting back to normal as soon as possible.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Scanta.
Chaitanya Hiremath: I grew up in India and received my degree from Delhi University. After that, I moved to Prague to do my master’s degree and then I spent a few years between Prague and Poland. I came back and started my first startup, which was working in the emerging field of augmented reality. I was fascinated by the cutting edge technology and how many interesting use cases there were in the mobile space. In 2016, I started Scanta, and we did some great AR advertising campaigns for companies like Coca-Cola, Wendy’s and Dunkin Donuts. In 2019 I pivoted Scanta in a new direction. I saw an emerging cybersecurity threat in the market for conversational systems like chatbots, robo-advisors and virtual agents and realized this was the place for Scanta to make a difference.
How does Scanta innovate?
Chaitanya Hiremath: At Scanta, we combine our knowledge of AI and cybersecurity to develop market-leading security solutions. Our collection of different skills gives us a fresh look at problems that other companies may not see. We are working in a very new space, and so we spend a significant amount of time with prospective customers understanding their use cases and requirements. We have a great team of corporate advisors, and we leverage their many years of industry experience to help us chart our strategy. I believe that innovation has to be a core corporate competency. So when building the team, an innovative mindset is equally important to me as a potential employee’s raw skills.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Chaitanya Hiremath: There is always something lost when you cannot get people into the same office to discuss things. There is also a value in the daily face to face interactions we have with each other, which promotes an unstructured exchange of ideas. As an international company, we are used to working through these distance challenges on a local and global scale, it’s just a bit more pronounced now. We do miss getting to attend international trade shows and events to network with customers and investors and hope to begin that again soon.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Chaitanya Hiremath: We realized early on that some people work well in a remote setting, and some people do not. Also, we realized the importance of frequent communication to ensure information and expectations were well understood. We have also put effort into building camaraderie among team members so that everyone has some of the social connections they are currently missing in their personal lives due to the covid related restrictions.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Scanta in the future?
Chaitanya Hiremath: I am a big believer in yoga, meditation and spending time outdoors. We will always be in stressful environments, and so you can’t change that. I use these tools to cope with stress, so I don’t unnecessarily internalize it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Chaitanya Hiremath: We are in a very new field, and traditional cybersecurity companies have not looked at it yet, so we are in a very unique position of evangelizing our technology to solve an emerging need. The competition will come as we grow, but we expect to be out in front based on the work we have done to seed the market.
Your final thoughts?
Chaitanya Hiremath: Scanta is on a mission to protect conversational systems from cyberattacks. New markets sometimes take a little time to establish, but we think we are well-positioned to reach our takeoff point next year. We have great foundational technology, an experienced executive team, a veteran advisory board and a team of motivated and driven employees ready to meet the challenge. Look out for great things from Scanta!