We talked to Pankit Desai about how Sequretek provides products that empower enterprises with proactive cyber defense and this is what he had to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Pankit Desai: With the pandemic impacting a large part of the populace, I have to thank the lord that we, the lucky ones having a roof on our heads, food on our plates, and health to enjoy our lives. Staying at home and spending time with family has helped me in seeing through these challenging times. I hope you all are doing fine too.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Sequretek?
Pankit Desai: If you look at any technology-led industry, it goes through a curve of newness and complexity initially, and over time it tends to simplify and commoditize. The security industry seems to be going the other way where every year, a plethora of new technology areas, products, and players emerge, making the whole play muddled. Therefore, the industry ends up getting divided into the world of have’s and have not’s – where the Top 10% of the customers have all the resources while the balance 90% struggle understand what, why, and how of technology.
Sequretek was born in 2013 to bridge this gap, and with a mission “to empower our customer’s growth without fear as their trusted security partner by simplifying security.” The operative words being removing fear attached to security threats linked to the digital transformation that has become essential for our customer’s growth and the fact that we will make security affordable and straightforward to them as their trusted partner.
For a large part of my career, I have worked in North American sales and business operations roles. My IT expertise comes from working in senior leadership roles in companies like Rolta, NTT Data, Wipro, Cognizant, IBM, and CMC. My Co-founder, Anand Naik, is a cybersecurity specialist who has worked with market leaders in this segment for close to 3 decades. He has previously worked with companies like IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Symantec (India & SAARC).
How does Sequretek innovate?
Pankit Desai: We focus on three areas where we would lead with our technology, i.e., device security, user behavior, and enterprise security visibility. There are two significant trends that one sees in the industry; the first is that employees are moving out of their offices, and the second is that data-centers are moving to the cloud. In this scenario, the traditional perimeter defense concepts are becoming irrelevant since there is hardly anything within the perimeter to protect. The new perimeter that needs to be defended zealously is your user and the devices they use to interact with the company. This is where our products come in; the traditional approach of addressing these forces customers to buy 8+ individual security technologies to secure their environments adequately. Most customers do not have the financial and technical maturity to be able to understand and procure it.
Our products for endpoint security and user access governance, combined with a cloud-based enterprise comprehensive security monitoring, offer protection and a complete package that uses our technology to defend, manage, and monitor security across the organization de-facto one neck to choke. We believe that the market we are addressing is currently underserved. Our approach of offering simplicity, ownership of outcomes, and affordable subscription-based services makes us uniquely positioned to be a preferred choice for our customers.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Pankit Desai: As COVID gripped the economy and forced companies to go on WFH, there has been a sharp spike in phishing and ransomware attacks, giving rise to security challenges across industries. We did understand that the pandemic created a significant problem for the organizations as they lacked in accommodating budgets. Therefore, as a leading provider of comprehensive security solutions for businesses – large and small, we have also taken the initiative to support businesses during this critical period of transition. We offered our Cyber-Security Product Subscriptions at NO-CHARGE Basis to SMEs.
Enterprises are waking up to the importance of Cybersecurity, and there has been a rising demand for cybersecurity services among businesses. Owing to this, Sequretek has seen an increase in signing customers for our range of services and signed more customers in the past six months than the entire previous year. We have also been sending out technical advisories every week to our customers to apprise them of the latest threats that lurk in the dark corner of the internet that could potentially be damaging to business.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Pankit Desai: Building a company from scratch always comes with its own set of challenges. No doubt, we also did face certain challenges. Whether in terms of finding a voice for ourselves in the crowded market dominated by biggies, or identifying the right talent who could become part of our product-centric journey, or raising capital at the right moments to meet our growth aspiration. A common denominator for all of the challenges above is creating trust with the constituents you are dealing with. The founders bring certain credibility in the industry that formed the nucleus around which a strategy for addressing each challenge was formed. As I mentioned earlier, initial customers came through our connections and relationship. As far as people are concerned, most of our management team comprises individuals with whom we have some standard connect; this allowed us to ensure that the founders’ ethos is widely shared. In turn, they ensured that the larger team gets built with the same ethos.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Sequretek in the future?
Pankit Desai: Very early on in my professional career, I got a couple of right pieces of advice. First, for any situation, think about what’s the worst that could potentially go wrong. When you look at a situation from that angle, we realize that the worst case isn’t that bad after all. The second compartmentalize your life. Work issues never should get home and vice-versa. Both these pieces have held me in good stead till now.
Like all commercial organizations, we, too, have financial aspirations around revenue and growth. Still, the most significant impact that I believe Sequretek can make is to be true to our vision to “simplify security by consolidating the landscape.” This will make the technology affordable to small and medium enterprises and make the world a better and safer place for digital interactions by delivering cutting edge security technologies.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Pankit Desai: Cybersecurity being a highly competitive market, there is ‘n’ number of players in the market today who offer a variety of solutions addressing limited cybersecurity issues. Our competitors mainly are the legacy players who offer traditional solutions and some next-generation players who have multiple point solutions for different problems.
We at Sequretek believe in continually upping the game to stay ahead of the curve in the highly dynamic and challenging cybersecurity field. Sequretek’s AI- and ML-driven technologies ensure that our customers are armed against all threats, known and unknown, and drive down the cost of ownership. Our approach’s key ingredient is enhanced visibility into the enterprise: you cannot secure what you cannot see. Improved visibility in the cloud means precise, actionable intelligence, and more efficient and proactive management of resources – the best competitive edge enterprises require in today’s marketplace.
Your final thoughts?
Pankit Desai: Both Anand and I come from working-class families with limited resources. In this context, success is landing a job that paid enough to get a better life for my family. We did land jobs and had a successful corporate career for over 20 years. In our wildest dreams, we had not imagined ourselves as an entrepreneur. But here we are after seven years of a fantastic journey with Sequretek, and the only regret, if any, that we have is why we did not start on this path earlier. It is satisfying to see this company blossom into what it is today, with over 350 employees and 100+ customers across the world. I would not trade this for any other job.
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