First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Shaji John: Thankfully, our team and families are doing well. We have adapted to the new norms – working from home and social distancing. I consider this as another opportunity to stay closer to the family and embrace a new work culture.
Tell us about you and how you founded UTunnel VPN.
Shaji John: Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have always been useful tools for ensuring privacy and safety on the internet. But, setting up and managing a dedicated VPN server was never an easy task, which made such a VPN setup less accessible to small and medium businesses as well as regular technology users. Working in the Information Technology sector for almost two decades, I wanted to change this situation. The market is flooded with consumer-grade VPN providers, who provide users with VPN servers shared among hundreds of thousands of users across the internet. Such shared VPNs have their downsides, making them not suitable for people and businesses who are on the lookout for better privacy. Our attempt to fill this void in the VPN domain by simplifying the setup and management of a Private VPN led to the inception of UTunnel VPN.
How does UTunnel VPN innovate?
Shaji John: Being a network security startup, innovation is one of the necessary elements which is constantly driving us forward. Our company aims to revolutionize the way people or businesses set up a Dedicated Private VPN.
UTunnel is designed to be an easy-to-setup VPN solution that could enable even businesses without system admins or regular users with no technical knowledge to set up and manage their own Private VPN servers. Once set up, UTunnel streamlines the VPN server control and its user access management, giving you great flexibility. Integration with cloud providers like DigitalOcean, Linode, Hetzner, or UpCloud makes UTunnel one of the easiest solutions for anyone to set up their own cloud VPN with one of these providers. There is also an option for users to set up their VPN with a non- integrated cloud provider or even an on-premise server for additional adaptability.
UTunnel’s easy VPN setup and management are bundled with its advanced features like 2-factor authentication, Single Sign-On, Inbuilt Firewall, Split Routing, Custom DNS settings, and many more. With UTunnel, we hope to reduce the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks for businesses, especially when they have employees working remotely, and provide better privacy for families setting up their private VPN.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Shaji John: Like many businesses, the pandemic has gotten our employees to shift to remote work. Fortunately for us, nothing else has changed much otherwise. Due to the shift of workforce from offices to a remote working model, there had been an initial surge in demand for secure remote network access solutions like ours, and UTunnel managed to sail with the wave. To help small businesses smoothly transition to remote work, we ran a campaign giving away 10 free user licenses for new signups, which turned out to be very helpful for many. We have managed to cope with the pandemic well, and helping others get through these difficult times has given us even more strength.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Shaji John: The pandemic hit when we were in the process of establishing a position in the VPN market. However, we were fortunate enough to have a good team and business partners who were positive, confident, and resilient. The mutual trust and our commitment kept the project running. We always focused on our long-term goals. We have kept ourselves busy by adding more advanced and user-friendly features to UTunnel VPN, which has made it simple and business-friendly as you see it now. We tuned in to what the customers wanted and tweaked UTunnel to make it a better fit for our users. The transition to the current situation was not without hurdles. Business is no longer usual. However, it’s not a challenging time, but a good time to build new business models and resilience plans.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and UTunnel VPN in the future?
Shaji John: It is quite common that you encounter stress and anxiety during tough times like this. Many things are beyond our control, and I always shift to focus my mind on things that I can control. Even when you are socially distanced, you can stay connected with your dear ones. I make it a priority to stay connected with my family, friends, and colleagues. I take out time for activities that make me happy and engaged.
The world would be radically transformed in the next five years. I see a clear path forward for myself and UTunnel. Like every successful entrepreneur of modern times, I am also in the process of making a blueprint for the accelerated future.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Shaji John: Our product is not a regular consumer VPN, and hence we are not competing with the likes of them in their highly crowded market. Being a VPN solution rather than a provider, offering an easy VPN server setup, combined with its advanced features, there are not many alternatives available in the market right now. We are offering a great product backed with good customer support, and that it is going to help us stay in the game.
Your final thoughts?
Shaji John: I believe online privacy should be simple and affordable to everyone. At UTunnel, we envision simplifying secure VPN access for everyone, be it for businesses or personal users, by minimizing the technical overheads involved in setting up and managing their own VPN servers. We believe that we now have our product in line with our core vision, which is proved by our growing user base around the globe. I would recommend you to visit our website if you would like to know more about us.