Over the past two decades, performing consulting roles for numerous MNCs in the European countries has been insightful for Kapil Gupta. This later formed the core of his ground research when he decided to start Volon, a cybersecurity firm, with his friends Muslim Koser and Sagar Sawant. Gupta had observed early on that India fell flat when it came to protecting crucial organisational data, despite similar levels of sophistication in technology in Indian and European MNCs.
The current model used by Indian cybersecurity companies involves tracking the technical and non-technical threats and forwarding it to the customers who are then expected to check if the threat indicators are relevant to them. Volon makes this process simpler for the customer by analysing the potential of the threat using advanced cyber intelligence. Sometimes, it even uses human intelligence at the back-end to get to the source and finding a solution to the the problem. Gupta claims, “Around 95% of the times our threat detection has been accurate.”
The core products offered follows a managed service model where the company delivers a fortnightly report to the customer ensuring that their involvement in nil. The companies (customers) are charged an annual subscription fee, which may vary based on its size and services needed. Another product is based on the pay-as-you-go model, which is often used by larger companies who have in-house cyber intelligence experts and don’t need the end product. Volon provides them with its platform and tools, which the experts can customise accordingly. The third product is the anti-piracy service, charged per project, that actively scans websites for threats and pirated content a week after a film or media is released. Apart from these, the start-up also works as an associate and consultant for the companies on project basis if it is already facing some problem.
When the company started in early 2018, the biggest challenge turned out to be lack of awareness about cyber intelligence and dearth of human resources to do the technical job. “This is a skill which we have developed over the years by working in this sector abroad. Finding someone who can start working on the projects immediately was difficult,” says Koser. The founders hired interns and had to train them for months. Today, they have a core team of nine members comprising old acquaintances, who are experts from the field.
Their recent achievement was a tie-up with IBM Securities, a vertical of the US-based IBM Corporation, apart from other big names such as Deloitte, PwC, Gartner and L&T. This will help Volon to sell its service jointly them, thus, marking its entry into the US market. It will be utilising IBM’s capabilities to develop its threat intelligence services further.
At present, Volon has kept a base profit margin of 30% for each client. The subscription model costs the client between 3 million-6 million anually. “For bigger companies we sometimes have to negotiate to get a better margin,” Gupta says. Volon’s target is to get more clients in the banking and finance, telecom and media industries and also law enforcement agencies. Next up, the founders are looking forward to expand in other countries such as Singapore and Netherlands. In Netherlands, it has been actively working with the Hague Security Delta.