Its Gatekeeper makes logins slick, secure
A computer security firm looks for more customers in the greater Washington metropolitan area. — Dan Beyers
The entrepreneur: After earning his master’s degree and PhD in electrical engineering in 2008, Siddharth Potbhare joined his first start-up, CoolCAD Electronics, founded by his University of Maryland adviser and a fellow graduate student. That company does a lot of government research and development work in new semiconductor technologies and electronic design.
In 2011, CoolCAD also was experimenting with then-emerging Bluetooth low-energy technology. The company created technology and a device it dubbed Gatekeeper, a security hardware product for logging onto computers. The idea was that you could carry a small key chain token that allows you access to your computer quickly and then effortlessly locks the computer behind you when you walk away. The team launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project in 2014, and in 2015 spun the technology off into a new company, Untethered Labs.
The pitch, Siddharth Potbhare, cofounder and chief executive, Untethered Labs: “We are an enterprise product that small and large business can use to manage the first-level physical access security of their computer systems. We are at the intersection of convenience and security. Everybody wants security, but many look for shortcuts if security is not convenient. It’s not convenient to have extremely long passwords that you are required to type into your computer every time you step away then step back to your desk.
“Users carry the Gatekeeper key fob with them and it allows them to walk up to a computer, type in a four-digit pin and get logged in. Then when they walk away from the computer, it automatically locks the computer. If you lose the Gatekeeper fob, an administrator can disable that one and quickly reassign a new one.
“Health-care companies are our No. 1 target customer right now. The health-care industry has a unique need where doctors often move from one computer to the next, but typing in extremely long, secure passwords each time is too burdensome. Gatekeeper makes logins and logouts quick and easy. It also easily fulfills security requirements mandated by federal HIPAA regulations for electronic medical records. We recently signed up a large hospital here in Maryland with a customized version of our technology that allows doctors in the trauma center to accurately keep track of the time spent with patients.
“Other target clients include law enforcement, manufacturing, financial-services industries, insurance — any industry where multiple layers of security are required and multiple people share the same workstations.
“We’ve sold over 10,000 units so far and have many companies in the pipeline that are testing and piloting Gatekeeper. Our next challenge is finding customers in this region. We get a lot of inquiries from all of the country, but we are looking for ways of finding large customers locally. We have a sales staff of three. Our sales pipeline is pretty robust, but not enough of it is local. We have been attending local events and tech meetups to look for customers. We also attend trade shows like the Consumer Electronics Show and the Health Information Management Systems trade show. How can we get in front of more potential customers in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area?
The advice, Elana Fine, executive director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland: “If getting more companies in this region into your pipeline is a big priority, focus your sales team that way. If you have three people on your sales team, two could be focused on local business development while the third is more opportunistic and looking for larger clients outside this region.
“Understand that enterprise sales could take 18 months or more to close a deal. Knowing that and assigning a probability of signing a client close to your current target list, you can know how many irons you’ll need in the fire to hit your forecast. Plot out a sales strategy that sets priorities (specific verticals or locations) and work with your sales team to create a plan to get there. This planning will include setting specific goals for the number of customers you want to bring on in this region in the next year, then figure out how many visits your sales team needs to make to build relationships to get there. Determine tactics and metrics, and then hold your team accountable for those. Also make sure you have good mentors or advisers who understand how to sell business-to-business and have sold into the industries you are targeting.
“Use your connections through the University of Maryland and through the hospital you are already working with: Ask your customers to refer you to others. Looking for some advice on a new business, or need help fixing an existing one? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.