Pankit Dasai, Co-founder, Sequretek
Thanks to Sequretek for contributing to the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator’s Founder Feature series! Sequretek helps banks “take control” of the cyber threats that can impact their brand, compliance, business continuity, and assets when they accelerate their digital transformation through its Percept cloud security platform. To meet Sequretek and the other fintechs in the 2022 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, powered by The Venture Center, click here. For questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Venture Center: Where did the idea for Sequretek originate?
Pankit Desai: If you look at any technology-led industry, it goes through a curve of newness and complexity in the beginning, and over time it tends to simplify and commoditize. The security industry seems to be going the other way, where a plethora of new technology areas, products, and players emerge every year, making the whole playing field muddled. The industry, therefore, 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 remaining 90% struggle to understand the what, why, and how of the 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 are removing fear attached to security threats linked to the digital transformation essential for our customers’ growth. We will make security simple and affordable as their trusted partner.
What problem is it solving?
The issues of heterogeneity and complexity has created real-life challenges for customers as they try to figure out how their environments respond to the increased cyber threats.
- 1: Technology sprawl – too many point technologies needed to create a security mesh
- 2: Visibility mess – each product working independently, resulting in lack of visibility on threats
- 3: Data sprawl – structured and unstructured security data across multiple systems makes analysis difficult
- 4: Botched response – all of the above results in ineffective incident response
Sequretek’s Percept Cloud Security Platform (CSP) is created to address these specific challenges. Percept CSP provides end-to-end security in enterprise threat monitoring & response, device security, and identity & access governance. Percept CSP offers:
1) Percept Endpoint Detection and Response (“Percept EDR” ): An endpoint security product that ensures that no malicious files infect your endpoints using AI and ML and self-updates to fix existing vulnerabilities. The product is Day 1 deployment-ready, along with 24×7 management and monitoring.
2) Percept Identity Governance and Administration (“Percept IGA” ): An end-user access governance offering for employee lifecycle management ensuring that employees get the proper access at the right time. The product offers enhanced features like AI-based user behavior cases, Single Sign-On (SSO), Multifactor authentication (MFA), and user access review.
3) Percept Extended Detection and Response (“Percept XDR” ): Predictive threat detection and analytics, threat hunting, and threat mitigation using deep learning algorithms, big data lakes, and automated incident orchestration layer. The product offers over 600 use cases across Threat Intelligence, Malware Intelligence, User Behavior, and Entity Behavior analytics.
What has been the most difficult part of building this business?
Building a company from scratch always comes with its own set of challenges. No doubt, we also faced specific challenges, whether finding a voice for ourselves in the crowded market dominated by big names, 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 the challenges above is to create trust with the stakeholders you are dealing with. For us, our founders bring certain credibility in the industry that formed the nucleus around which a strategy for addressing each of the challenges was formed. Our initial customers came through our personal connections and relationships.
As far as people are concerned, most of our management team comprises individuals with whom we already had some ties; this allowed us to ensure that the ethos of founders is widely shared. They, in turn, ensured that the larger team gets built with the same thought process.
Was there ever a time when you wanted to give up? If so, how did you overcome that feeling?
It would be wrong on our part to say that our journey has always been on the up. Like any early-stage company, we have had challenges linked to funding, product stability, resources. The first thing that worked for us is that we are two founders, and it helps to have someone along with you when the going becomes tough.
We have also been blessed to have an excellent board of directors and advisors who we can lean on for areas where we have struggled. Both Anand and I are open to sharing our challenges with our trusted circle, allowing us honest feedback and unquestioned support.
What is your philosophical approach to trying to find a work/life balance?
Work-life balance is always a challenge for any working professional, especially if you are an entrepreneur with no shortage of challenges. The key needs to be an ability to switch off occasionally, to rejuvenate and recharge. For me, it is my morning cup of tea in the solace of a swing and newspaper that gives me the right frame of mind to start the day, and then once every few months a break from the routine; either a visit to my village or a vacation that helps me unwind.
Who is your favorite entrepreneur and why?
For me, it’s Ratan Tata, the head honcho of Tata Group, India’s leading conglomerate. Several entrepreneurs have been more wildly successful than him, but what I like is the ability to marry ambition with conscientiousness. The ethos that the Tata group represents of compassion, humility, and doing the right thing makes them a complete stand out for a group that is pretty much into everything from salt to software.
Tell us about a time you failed (at anything!) and what you did to use that failure to learn.
In 2005 I decided to leave my secure job at Wipro to join a PE-backed mid-sized IT services company, Intelligroup. The company was not doing well; it had issues with reputation, financial instability, and leadership churn. I was responsible for global sales and operations, and within three years, the company turned around. I distinctly remember that the quarter ending September 2008 turned out to be the best in the company’s history. Then came the financial meltdown, and within three quarters, the revenue dropped over 40%, and it seemed like the hard work over the past three years went down the drain.
I was so demotivated by my failure as a sales leader that I resigned. I still remember what my CEO told me at that time, “Setbacks are transitory; you have a choice to abdicate or accept the challenge.” I know he was under tremendous pressure from the investors and the board, and he could have very well made a scapegoat of me, but he withstood the pressure and decided to back me. His vote of confidence gave me a renewed sense of purpose, and within three quarters we were back to where we were pre-crisis and with a much better bottom line. To this day, that moment has stayed with me.
What’s the best book you have ever read, and why?
It is hard for me to determine the best book I have read since there are too many of them. But the one book that has stayed with me to date is “The Storyteller’s Secret” by Carmine Gallo. As a business leader before and entrepreneur now, it is crucial for us to send a message to our stakeholders like employees, peers, customers, investors, board members, influencers, etc. It is very easy to resort to jargon and numbers in a technology-centric business – the very essence of losing the attention. The book goes into great detail on creating a story of even mundane topics, using the hook to captivate the audience, and finally leaving with a call to action. I would recommend this for every entrepreneur in the making.
Who has been your most influential mentor?
First and foremost, our investors and board members are our biggest mentors and advisors. Their industry experience and access are something that we have always leaned upon. Beyond this, we have a solid set of industry mentors – folks such as Dr. Gulshan Rai (former national cyber security head) and Sharad Sanghi (founder NetMagic, now NTT Communications), as well as industry leaders including some of our customers who have taken an active part in helping us ensure that we always stay on the right track.
What did you decide to apply for the ICBA ThinkTech Accelerator, and what do you hope to gain from it?
Most large enterprises have access to cybersecurity technologies and services, whereas small and medium enterprises struggle to access and implement cybersecurity technologies. We would like to offer cutting-edge cybersecurity products to the community banks in the US while reducing their total cost of ownership to procure and manage cybersecurity solutions.
We believe that The ICBA ThinkTech Accelerator program will provide connections to help us achieve high-scale growth. Peer relationship-building, critical introductions to investors, and other business opportunities are some of the areas that will focus on.
Through this accelerator program, we will grow our business faster and aim to secure the underserved banking organizations against next-generation threats. We also wish to start engaging and developing relationships with new resellers/distributors serving the community banks to address the demand.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your solution, your journey as an entrepreneur, or as an expert in your field?
Both Anand and I come from working-class families with limited resources. Success in this context was just 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 entrepreneurs. But here we are, after seven years of a fantastic journey with Sequretek, and the only regret, if any, is: why did we not start on this path earlier? It is so satisfying to see this company blossom into what it is today, with over 400+ employees and 120+ customers worldwide. I would not trade this for any other job.
Share your favorite quote or mantra!
The quote that I love the most is in Urdu “Main akela hi chala tha jani-be-manzil magar, log saath aate gaye aur karwan bantha gaya,” it essentially means, “I set off alone towards my goal, but, people came along and it began to turn into a caravan!”
Thanks to Sequretek for contributing to the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator’s Founder Feature series! To meet Sequretek and the other fintechs in the 2022 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, powered by The Venture Center, click here. For questions, please email email@example.com.