Boole start-up of the week: Jumble

20 Jul 2015

Gavin Kearney, visionary and founder of Jumble

Our start-up of the week this week is Jumble, a company that is simplifying end-to-end email encryption for businesses.

Jumble is simplifying end-to-end email encryption so that businesses of all shapes and sizes can secure their email data quickly and simply without any upfront capital expenditure or technical wizardry,” explained Gavin Kearney, Jumble’s founder and visionary.

“Also, Jumble’s not only really easy for the email recipient to use, it’s free for them to read and reply to emails.”

The market

While Jumble is accessible to all email users, the company is targeting business users who need to protect their email data for regulatory, compliance, data protection or IP reasons.

“As a result of increasing regulation and cybercrime businesses need to protect their email data.

“In fact the global cybercrime market is now worth more than the global drugs trade.

“The problem that affects many of the world’s 1bn business email users is that securing their email data takes time and money.  And this problem is magnified with the rise in employees using their personal mobiles to access work emails.”

Kearney pointed out that existing end-to-end encryption solutions are frustrating and costly to use as they require both the email sender and recipient to manage the encryption keys.

‘The global cybercrime market is now worth more than the global drugs trade’

“This takes considerable time, which ends up costing the business in lost productivity what can almost equal the significant costs of a security breach to the business.”

The email encryption market in the finance, healthcare and government sectors alone is expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2019.

The founder

Kearney is a software architect with a M.Sc in Security & Forensic Computing from DCU.

His professional experience ranges from enterprise software development and delivery to banking security system design, while his start-up experience spans big data search, real-time photo indexation and, more notably, email encryption.

The other two founders have a combination of regulatory and business experience.

The technology

Jumble uses standard encryption algorithms that have been published and peer reviewed over many years.

“Specifically, we use 256-bit AES keys to encrypt the email data and then use a 2048-bit RSA public key to encrypt the AES key. In fact, we use two different sets of encryption keys for each email you send.”

End-to-end encryption requires the generation and management of encryption key pairs (public and private keys).  Jumble’s API generates and manages these key pairs on the user’s behalf while uniquely associating the key pairs with each email address.

Jumble integrates with existing email clients for two reasons: a seamless experience for the users and to retain its zero knowledge provider status – Jumble has no access to the underlying emails and likewise the email provider has no access to the keys, so once the emails are encrypted they can only ever be decrypted and read by the sender and recipient regardless of whether they are internal or external to the business.

Jumble provides businesses with powerful features such as KPIs to help with compliance and regulations, the ability to revoke and expire access to encrypted emails and lock or revoke keys remotely in the event of a mobile device being compromised or an employee leaving the organisation.

“The ultimate goal is for Jumble to become the market leader in end-to-end email encryption for businesses,” Kearney said.

From bootstrapping to generating online sales

Until recently, Jumble was bootstrapped and in this time a Gmail plug-in on Chrome and an iOS app were developed.

Earlier in the year Jumble was elected from 2,500 companies to take part in Generation 12 of Start-Up Chile.

The programme gave Jumble an equity-free investment of US$40,000.

“This investment was used to develop Jumble’s Outlook desktop extension and will be used to launch the Jumble offering to the public in 2015,” Kearney said.

“This month we’ve started selling our product and processing our first sales via our online platform.

“By the end of 2015 we will be raising a seed round of investment to develop the rest of the technical roadmap and scale the business.”

Kearney said that the biggest challenge along the way was finding top-quality developers while being bootstrapped.

“Top-quality talent is always hard to find but in a start-up the challenge is exponentially more difficult.

“Only through perseverance and sheer hard work have we been able to build out our team of developers to the high standard we now have.

“In Dublin especially, start-ups are competing with the international corporates for talent and start-ups are the riskier bet. Then again if it were easy everyone would do it!”

The start-up scene in Dublin is getting tougher

While start-ups are suddenly trendy in Ireland and the mood is there has never been a better time to start a company here, what Kearney is noticing is tensions in the form of office space, talent and funding.

“People talk about the buoyant start-up scene in Ireland and while there’s lots of start-ups and a general welcoming and incubation of technology companies, what we’re now finding is that start-ups with few resources are being pushed to the periphery: competing for talent with the Googles, Facebooks and LinkedIns of Dublin is a big challenge.

Likewise, office space is hard to come by, as Dublin has seen rents soaring in recent years with larger, well-funded companies making Dublin their international base.

“While getting affordable office space is challenging there’s an increase in the number of co-working spaces particularly in Cork and Dublin.

‘In Dublin especially, start-ups are competing with the international corporates for talent and start-ups are the riskier bet. Then again if it were easy everyone would do it’

“That said, there are many start-ups across the spectrum of maturity and success; there are also many meetups and events to keep you busy, so in that respect the general community provides great support for fledgling companies.”

His advice to other start-ups is to build up a network. “Get out and talk to people from day one, whether to determine product/market fit, get beta users or find top-quality talent but at the same time have conviction in your idea/product.

“People are great at giving advice but start-ups need to be careful of who they listen to and what advice they take when starting out as it can be very easy to get distracted and waste valuable time and resources on something that may not work.

“My second piece of advice would be to start generating revenue as soon as possible no matter how immature your product is.

“It’s something we learned the hard way and the simple fact of the matter is investors in Ireland are not interested until you start taking in money, unlike some of their US counterparts.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years