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i2Chain Secures Information Transactions just as Seamlessly as VISA Secures Financial Transactions

Ajay Jotwani

Co-Founder & CEO

i2Chain, Inc.


Aida Gorgani

Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor

CEOCFO Magazine

Published – September 21, 2020

CEOCFO: Mr. Jotwani, what is the idea behind i2Chain, Inc?   

Mr. Jotwani: The basic idea behind i2Chain is to be able to protect information artifacts everywhere. If you look at the traditional cybersecurity providers, most of them secure technology silos, like IBM secures data center; Cisco secures networks, Oracle secures databases, Tanium secures endpoints. Who is really securing the information when the real breach happens? We are securing information in a way that the information artifacts remain secure throughout their lifecycle.

CEOCFO: How are you accomplishing this?

Mr. Jotwani: We are a deep engineering startup at the confluence of cybersecurity, immutable ledgers, and heuristics. Our ‘how’ is split into two factors. One is that from an engineering perspective, we superglue cryptography to an information artifact in a way that security travels with that information artifact throughout its lifecycle. The second part is from a standpoint of usability, which is equally and perhaps more important - the users are able to consume the ‘Chained’ information or secured information easily and intuitively.

Looking at these two big factors, we broke up this challenge in three vectors. The first is encryption-decryption, which means that at any point of time, whether it is at rest or in motion, the information remains encrypted, and hence tamper-proof, hack-proof, and secure. The second vector is rights management or loss prevention. Our rights management is light-weight and non-intrusive giving enterprises a unique capability to set rights at the enterprise level that automatically are enforced with employees, contractors, remote workers, partners, and the entire ecosystem - again imagine security traveling with the document both within and outside the networks. And the third vector is traceability, which establishes chain-of-custody to enable enterprises to harvest evidence quality forensics in real-time. As one of our Advisors, Ranga Jayaraman, former CIO of Stanford Business School and that of Nvidia said, “It is to enforce the intended purpose of the information and how it is consumed.”  

CEOCFO: How does this compare with what is normally thought of as Blockchain or is this just a more intense version?

Mr. Jotwani: That is a great question. We use the subset features of Blockchain, like the immutable ledger, to capture forensics, and perhaps are one of the very rare companies that enable our enterprise customers to track how content is used and stored across storages, networks and applications in zero-trust manner.

The second aspect is from a standpoint of security itself. We are zero-touch security, and what that means is that enterprises can share, distribute, and transact information with integrity and confidentiality in a secure and private manner within and outside their networks. Today, almost all providers force enterprises to move information into their secured environments, their containers to provide security. As a modern, zero-trust security solution, i2Chain uniquely secures information in your environment, in your content stores, in your home, versus asking you to come to our home or our environment for security provisioning.

CEOCFO: Where are you today in the development process?

Mr. Jotwani: Very recently, we launched what is called a ‘Select’ release. It is somewhere in between a prototype and a general release. It can also be called a Beta release. At this point in time, we are piloting the select release with some of the largest enterprises in financial, healthcare, and aerospace. It is very interesting to know that one of our customers compared us to something like Visa, wherefrom their lens, Visa secures financial transactions, and just as seamlessly i2Chain secures information transactions and information sharing. We work in the background, automated, and are delighted to be working with some of the largest brands in the financial and healthcare industries.    

CEOCFO: When you are able to talk with a knowledgeable person at a company, do they understand? Is it intuitive? Do people know enough about it to recognize what you do? Is there an “aha moment” when you are talking with someone? How does that breakthrough come through to your potential customer?  

Mr. Jotwani: Our customers are challenged to deliver dual goals of security as well as privacy. For example, social media lacks privacy, and hence lacks trust; that is why you will never share your material information on social media. It is highly secure though. You cannot break into Facebook; you cannot break into Tik Tok. Tik Tok is highly secure, and hence performing, but they are not privacy focused. They do not have privacy fundamentals. They share your information with whoever buys it and for those reasons they lack trust.

At the other spectrum, look at the government that tries to ensure that your privacy is of the utmost importance and you will have no hesitation to share your personal identifiable information with, let us say, someone like the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, the DMV lacks security capabilities and hence relies on physical documentation and manual processes, and therefore while it is trusting, it lacks performance as it lacks the ability to secure a digital process.

Now, the “aha moment” comes in because, in the new normal era, we help enterprises attain their dual goals of security and privacy, which means that enterprises can be both performing as well as become trusted partners for their consumers and ecosystem.

CEOCFO: What have you learned as people are looking at what you have done, perhaps starting to use or evaluate?

Mr. Jotwani: That is a good question. It is something that me and my Co-Founder Sanjay Jain, who is our CTO, discuss on a daily basis. All of this tech, all of this engineering that we have; we want to make sure that people who use this piece of software do not really find it complex, they will be able to use it, that the learning required to secure, say, a Microsoft Word document or a PDF document, or their cloud stores should be very, very simple.

Usability is a big, big deal. We participated in one of the global challenges of Citizens Bank, which is one of the top banks in the US. It is a large bank and as a part of their open API project they gave us access to some of their environment and we built what is called a zero-click technology, where the policies can be set by the enterprise CISO or the enterprise business unit. Therefore, the users do not really have to do anything to secure the information or consume the chained information securely. Usability is a big one. It is where we are putting a tremendous amount of focus and that the next wave of where we improve our capabilities.    

CEOCFO: We actually came upon i2Chain from your recognition as a TiE50 winner. Would you tell us about that, as well as other recognition you have received?  

Mr. Jotwani: Our biggest recognition is from our customers and our employees that share securely their information artifacts in a privacy-compliant way every day 24x7. Yes, we have also received a few recognitions. We have received a Disruptive Startup award by OneTraction in 2019. We received several People’s Choice awards in the past. We received awards from CIOReview for Top 20 Most Promising Solution Providers in Cyber Security in 2019 and we are very fortunate to be evaluated by the TiE50 club.

TiE is the largest entrepreneur forum and we are totally honored. Having said that, I do want to say that this recognition is also a culmination of the effort that is put in by the whole team, the engineering, the research, the product management, the go-to-market, the sales, and the business development teams that have put in countless of hours to make something like this happen that is being consumed by users every day.

I also do want to recognize the two accelerators that we have been part of. Early last year we were part of IIT Startups, IIT is my alma mater. This year we participated with DreamIT and I think we have had a fabulous, fabulous experience with both DreamIT as well as IIT Startups. In fact, one of the DreamIT managing directors Mel Shakir, has not only become a close friend and a mentor, but we are just delighted to have some of the best minds at work to help us to navigate through these times.    

CEOCFO: Are you seeking funding, investment or partnerships as you move forward?

Mr. Jotwani: Yes, a checkmark on all of these. We have top five priorities; number one, investment, two, go to market, three, engineering, four, research that is patented and fifth is partnerships. All of them, I do not call them one, two, three, four, five. I call them one, ABCDE, so one A, one B, one C; all of them are really a number one priority.

CEOCFO: “Securing work from home,” is front and center on your site.  How are you getting that message across?  Is it resonating?

Mr. Jotwani: I often say, “Give us sushi and we will call it cold dead fish.” We are improving our messaging and outreach at this point in time and are hopeful Lynn that some of our messages will be carried through your channel as well. Also, we are just coming out of stealth if you will. This summer we came out of stealth and it is a little bit early, but we are trying to participate in forums. For example, recently I also did give a keynote speech that CISO Exchange, which was very well received and over forty CISOs came and participated, and a few of them are engaged with us in serious conversations.

CEOCFO: Are any companies working on a similar offering or are you so far ahead that people have not really figured out how to do what you are doing?

Mr. Jotwani: Yes, there are a few companies; there are a few very smart startups that are working in this area. There are also many legacy companies as well, McAfee, Symantec, Microsoft, etc.; these are all companies where I have not seen a single successful implementation, if you will, over the last ten + period years, because of how complex their engineering is. Then there are outfits like Vera Security or Ionic security which we keep a tab on, which we try to look to competitively. They are a little bit ahead of us in the go-to-market, but our engineering and usability lead them by a few light-years. As an example, we can at scale, set policies whereby any documents checked out of SaaS or PaaS clouds is auto secure and fully privacy compliant. Also, we track every action, real-time on every document in a way that can prevent information leakage of chained documents even if the enterprise or the endpoint is breached.

CEOCFO: What, if anything, might someone miss when they first look at i2Chain, whether from an investment or a user perspective?

Mr. Jotwani: That is a great question again, Lynn! That is a fabulous question. I think one of the things that they might miss is the importance associated with being on the edge, the far-northeast edge, of both security and privacy. Just being secure is no longer sufficient. No one is going to trust you. Just being private or privacy oriented is also not sufficient, because you cannot be performing, and everything will be on a paper trail. You cannot accomplish an end to end digital operation. For the business to survive the business needs to be on the far edge of security and privacy and I think that is where our grand mission is; to be able to help the enterprises become both secure, that is performing, as well as privacy-compliant that is trustworthy.

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“Now, the “aha moment” comes in because, in the new normal era, we help enterprises attain their dual goals of security and privacy, which means that enterprises can be both performing as well as become trusted partners for their consumers and ecosystem.”

Ajay Jotwani