Inside the Accelerator: Secure Exchanges

The Catalyst Cyber Accelerator is the first cybersecurity-focused commercial accelerator in Canada. Headquartered at the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst at Toronto Metropolitan University, the Accelerator offers technical, strategic advice, mentorship and business resources to cybersecurity businesses that are ready to become national and international competitors.

In February, the Accelerator launched its fourth cohort with seven innovative Canadian cybersecurity businesses. In this series of articles, we’ll be talking to the entrepreneurs behind each business about the Accelerator experience.

Secure Exchanges is secure email exchange software, specializing in confidentiality when transmitting information over the Internet. Whether it’s sharing a credit card number, a confidential document or a social insurance number, their technology allows users to exchange sensitive information without worry — doing away with the need for slow, expensive service providers. Each message has a lifespan determined by the sender of a maximum of 30 days or a number of openings, after which the encrypted information point to point is destroyed forever.

We talked to founders Cédric Boivin and Hughes Boivin about how it works, why it’s unique and where the business is going…

What is the elevator pitch for Secure Exchanges?

Cédric Boivin: It’s an innovative digital version of an armoured truck. Exchange confidential documents with the utmost simplicity, and without compromising sensitive information inside and outside of your organization.

How does the technology work? What is it doing that has never been done before?

Hughes Boivin: A big difference is, we integrate our processes more than migrating to another platform. We have processes that help you exchange and sign documents while staying in the same platform. This is the pillar of our company: we want to keep it simple so that everybody is able, in two or three minutes, to manage their process.

What has been the evolution of the business?

CB: A long time ago we were working in another business, exchanging with large banks, financial institutions, insurance companies — those kinds of organizations. Much confidential information was exchanged by email, including passwords and financial documents. We established that there is a real security gap in email communication, and while we knew that some solutions existed on the market, those were very complicated to put in place. So, we built a solution that is really easy to use, integrate and install.

HB: We saw that when a company uses a spam filter and a proxy system, you create a copy every time you exchange information between two mailboxes. And when you send, many systems have access to your email, and decrypt your information, and also read it — because when a spam filter checks if the message is spam or not, it needs to read the email. If the spam filter can read your email, then the IT guys who have access to the spam filter can read it. If that spam filter is hacked, it will be a source for a lot of information.

Every time an email is in your system, it creates a copy, and a copy, and a copy. The same thing happens in your “sent” items, and each time you do a reply, you’re doing the same process. It’s a multiplication each time. We want to avoid this process with our technology.

What brought you to the Catalyst Cyber Accelerator?

CB: The Accelerator will help us become better known by the industry. We’ll be able to create contacts and connections with VCs, business owners and cybersecurity startups to make strategic partnerships.

HB: We want the challenge of creating the best marketing and communications we can.

CB: It’s a really intensive program. There has been valuable training that we will follow up on — for example, creating a fundraising pitch. It was great to learn how to talk with an investor, because we actually built Secure Exchanges without any fundraising.

How did you accomplish that? With self-funding?

CB: Yeah — self-funding and working very hard. So, talking with VCs was not something we had done before. That will be very useful knowledge for us.

What do the next five years look like for the business?

CB: We will be strongly present in Canada, the U.S., Europe, Africa, Mexico… in fact, we’re already there, but we will increase our presence.

HB: In five years, I think we’re going to reach $10 million in revenue. We’ll be all over the planet, and the market is ready. We’re entering a market where nobody has taken care of email cybersecurity.

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