Starting a data company is nothing new for tech entrepreneurs Stephen Ufford and Tanis Jorge.
But when the business-savvy pair created their fourth startup Trulioo, they knew it was an idea that was worth taking big—Silicon Valley big.
They decided to bring the identity verification concept at the core of their latest firm to northern California to seek funding and vision.
"For a pair of Canadian entrepreneurs with little to no contacts in Silicon Valley and fierce competition for dollars, the process of raising venture capital there was daunting," says Ufford, founder and CEO.
It took them hundreds of hours of preparations and as many meetings to secure their first funding round.
"People didn't really understand the concept of identity and where it fit in the whole scheme of things," says cofounder and COO Jorge. "It was interesting to see the shift... and now you talk to any VC down in the Valley and they're itching to get into the identity space."
Trulioo is leading the way in that space with products that take an individual's cyber footprint and use it to validate their identity.
They offer two services: one aimed at anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) needs, and the other focused on review sites and comment boards—organizations that utilize social login. Drawing from various online sources, the company's data scientists aggregate and analyse users information to create a probability of whether any single profile is attached to a real person or not.
"We provide a predictability score that says this is where we think the level of assurance of this person is and it's up to the organization and their use case to decide how they want to proceed," says Jorge.
And getting access to the necessary digital snippets in a post-Snowden era has offered it's own challenges.
"Earning the trust of our 130-plus data source partners, and over 300 customers around the world has been no small feat in this environment," adds Ufford.
Now that the foundation is built, their next challenge is to scale the company fast enough to meet market demand.
"Building great teams and products takes time," says Ufford. "Startups need leeway to make some mistakes, think up new products, and converse with their customers."
It's knowing how to balance these things while outpacing the competition that makes for a successful start up, according to the 37-year-old.
Ufford says they have hit their stride now, being able to raise funds, acquire competitors and launch new innovative products at the same time.
Included in those innovations are efforts focusing on emerging markets and financial inclusion.
Trulioo, who will be hiring at Vancouver's Tech Fest in September, is working at helping those without traditional identities get a verified cyber footprint that can be used to acquire services previously unavailable without tangible IDs—like a bank account.
While their products are global, Jorge says there's no better location than Vancouver to do it all from. She cites Canada’s more stringent privacy policies and the local talent pool as the main reasons to stay put in the country.
Jorge talks about getting the company ready to move to a new office, and how the growing company has modified its own identity as their vision has scaled up.
But even with expansion their core mission stands solid.
“We’re taking identity verification from something that was so tedious and so antiquated, and bringing it into the new millenium,” says Jorge.
And in that way, Trulioo is truly unique.