Last month, Vancouver-based startup WitKit announced a $5 million seed and the trial launch of its secure collaboration platform. The platform allows individuals to collaborate through ‘kits’, virtual work groups created for specific tasks and assignments. Importantly, all information shared through these Kits is secure, meaning that different departments, companies, and industries can collaborate without fearing security breaches.
WitKit’s goal – essentially a super-Slack across companies – is ambitious, but highly compelling. BetaKit sat down with WitKit’s CEO, Sean Merat, to understand how the company can succeed in the exploding collaboration space.
You recently raised $5 million in funding; was any from Vancouver? Why build WitKit and the team in the 604?
Right now we’re not disclosing the details of our funding. We’ve raised $5M in a seed round to build the world’s most secure collaboration platform. By staying out of the heart of Silicon Valley we were able to perfect and hone Witkit away from prying eyes. Basing our company in Vancouver was a strategic decision. Vancouver has a booming tech scene. Gastown, where our offices are located, is an emerging tech hub.
You’ve touched on tackling two big challenges: the need for collaboration to be more social, and for collaborative assets to be kept in a highly secure ecosystem. Describe the design thinking behind bringing these two things together.
We can all agree that as individuals, we’re all connected like never before. For the past decade, amazing companies have provided great solutions for us to keep in touch with one another. Such is not the case for businesses. Due to so many data breaches in the recent years, people now associate “social” with “un-secure”. And for the most part, they would be right to assume this. The main reason why collaboration tools tend to keep a closed network for businesses is security concerns. This is the problem we have solved with Witkit. By providing a fully end-to-end encrypted workplace, the businesses are in full control of their data, and can share it with anyone outside of their organization knowing it can’t be breached. So to answer your question, by providing a highly secure ecosystem, we are enabling businesses become more collaborative.
It takes a team to execute on a big vision. How did you manage to convince a former lead designer of DropBox to join you?
Witkit has an amazing culture. And when we started the project, we were a little different from most other startups. While others wanted to build game apps and chat apps, Witkit set out to build a major collaboration platform that would immediately raise the bar when it comes to working and collaborating online. This on-going and ambitious vision is very attractive to driven and talented individuals. And to achieve this vision, we did not compromise. We have even gone so far to find the right people across the planet and to offer them work VISA to get them to our office in Vancouver. I can confidently say that we have assembled the best team any startup could dream of. And we’re consistently looking for more talent.
With so many invested in a variety of collaboration platforms from Google to Basecamp and everything in between, how are you going to convince people to migrate their process to WitKit?
This is definitely a big challenge. But at the end of the day, our security model sets us apart. People are using different tools and those same tools are being hacked and breached again and again, year after year. Even if a certain platform has not been breached, it’s only a matter of time. It’s like riding on a motorcycle at full speed, without a helmet on. It’s risky. And smart businesses like to minimize risks. This, I think, is the main reason why we are growing at such a fast pace, with some of the most prominent companies in the world as clients.
Why do you think WitKit’s capable of disrupting this space? Who’s at the top of your client wish-list?
Because businesses need to collaborate, and they want their data to be secure. Witkit is capable of disrupting this space because it allows them to do both without sacrificing either. Our dream clients are startups that understand the need to protect their IP. Too often I see and hear about startups becoming irrelevant for having their IP leaked or breached. We can put an end to this.