Santiago Hernández Zambrano, founder, and CEO of Tusdatos tells us about automated background checks.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Santiago Hernández Zambrano: We have been lucky enough to have weathered it well. There has not been a serious illness within my family in the past year. We have not been able to see each other much, but it is for the best. Our health is our primary concern.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Tusdatos.
Santiago Hernández Zambrano: I used to work as a security consultant, I did this line of work for more than 10 years. I was a very successful pentester and social engineer. To give my clients the best service possible I had to get to know them better than they knew themselves, considering that the scope of work in most cases included their employees I became a pro at mapping out people’s interests and backgrounds. Being an engineer I started automating much of the work I had to do to create these profiles.
Seeing the vast amount of information available online I decided to invest my time understanding this further. With my investigation, I created a presentation that I gave at several important security conferences. The presentation was called “Tell me your ID and I will tell you who you are”.
While at these conferences I had the opportunity to speak with people from different business sectors and most told me that one of their main pains was dealing with unknown third parties and that what I presented could help them make better decisions. After this, I pitched my idea in a local incubator where our first beta was created.
How does Tusdatos innovate?
Santiago Hernández Zambrano: We allow our clients to do automated and contactless background checks, including identity validation and non-repudiation. We also reduce the burden from compliance automating AML and KYC processes within a centralized information platform. Helping all kinds of user onboarding workflows, making them simpler faster, and best of all reducing risks and fraud.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Santiago Hernández Zambrano: We are a B2B SaaS and In Colombia, we had a complete lockdown with a week’s notice, so you can imagine we had plenty of issues communicating with our clients. I think that less than 10% of companies in Colombia and around the world were ready to start working from home. Most companies in Colombia sent their employees on vacation for 15 days hoping that they would be back in their offices after this time. Little did they know that our quarantine would last almost 10 months. Most of our clients went MIA for over a month and when they started working again they stopped hiring for several months. This means our metrics dropped like a rock for our hiring pre-screening background checks.
We noticed that our compliance users were mostly unaffected by the pandemic, so we pivoted all our efforts to serve this business sector better. Since most compliance officers were working from home they started reaching out to allow them to do contactless and online screening for their third parties. With this, we managed to survive the pandemic and come out much stronger with a 4x growth inactive clients and a 5x growth in sales.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Santiago Hernández Zambrano: Working from home is not for everyone, we had a couple of team members who could not adjust to this and it impacted their performance severely. We tried our best to get them to adapt but it was just not possible. Sadly we had to let them go, as going back to the office was not safe.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Santiago Hernández Zambrano: We use Zokri to measure okrs, this allows us to meet our planned goals for the quarter. We measure every important action our users do within our system using segment and amplitude. We automate customer success with customer.io.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Santiago Hernández Zambrano: This has become a highly competitive industry, online fraud is at an all-time high and companies are suffering losses. This has created a boom for solutions such as ours. We are reinvesting every dime we make in our product to work hand in hand with our clients to offer the products they need so they can feel safe and stay compliant offering their services online as well as onboarding users via digital channels.
Your final thoughts?
Santiago Hernández Zambrano: As founders working in tech we have to be very grateful, many industries are suffering while we thrive. We have to do our best to give back to our communities especially in those industries which are hardest hit. Although we work in tech we should seek offline-local stores/shops/restaurants and make most of our purchases in these establishments.