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Decentriq gets $15M in the bank to become the ‘Switzerland of data’

decentriq

Decentriq, the company that promises to be the Switzerland for data, has closed a $15 million Series A funding round. Led by Eclipse Ventures, with participation from existing investors including Atlantic Labs, btov Partners, and Paladin Capital Group. It adds to the $3.8 million raised in seed funding in November 2020.

Since their seed funding round, Decentriq have won customers from both the public and private sector, and plans to use the new funding to expand their team, continuing their growth in Europe and beyond.

The sensitive value of data

As awareness of data handling has grown, so too has the sensitivity about it. The days in which businesses could collect and monetise data with little regulation have passed. Data protection law and regulations, like Europe’s GDPR have placed more responsibility on data handlers, while increasing public awareness of how their data is collected and used.

Talking to TFN, Decentriq’s co-founder and CEO, Maximilian Groth, explained how his early experience was, essentially, a conflict between the business potential and privacy concerns of data. “I worked for a company that was analysing and monetising telecommunications data around the globe, but especially Europe, Asia, and US,” he explained. “Of course, the business case always looks amazing, and they brought outstanding data partners to the table. But, actually, it never became a reality because it was always blocked by data security and privacy concerns.”

It was while he was facing this problem that he met Decentriq’s other co-founder, and now CTO, Stefan Deml. “He had a background in cryptography, and he told me there was tech on the horizon that can mitigate the problem,” Groth explained. “That’s why we started the company: to solve the problem of multi-party data collaboration.”

The solution is Decentriq’s ‘data clean rooms’, in which only the data owner can access the data, enabling enterprises, big and small, to scale and collaborate, while maintaining the highest standards of data security. “By leveraging Confidential Computing technology, Decentriq is building a world-class product,” said Eclipse Ventures partner Kusagra Said, “unlocking a whole new dimension of data collaboration between enterprises — without sacrificing privacy and regulatory requirements.”

A Swiss approach to data

Groth is particularly pleased with Decentriq’s early growth in Switzerland. “I’m proud because the Swiss people and Swiss enterprises are rather conservative,” he explains. Despite the Swiss culture, Decentriq have won a range of clients. While it might be natural to assume that the financial sector has embraced Decentriq’s offer, they have seen interest from a range of sectors. Perhaps the most surprising has been the Swiss military.

“They looked at 32 companies around the world, and they chose us.” Groth suggests that Decentriq’s ease-of-use was the winning factor. “There has always been a trade-off between security and usability, but what they liked about our platform that it’s very easy to use, but still complies with the strongest security and privacy requirements.”

It was not, however, always that way. Groth admits that, for the first year, Decentriq’s service was ‘a bit too technical’. However, it meant that they focused on security, before spending the last year investing heavily in the front-end and usability. The combination, Groth, believes, sets them apart from their competition. With the security-first approach providing confidence in their systems, while the ease-of-use attracts clients. With Swiss stereotypes including secretive banks and being the world leaders in nuclear shelter provision, it was perhaps logical that the ‘Switzerland for data’ label would be applied to Decentriq.

Further growth

Groth plans for Decentriq to continue growing, and is expanding the company’s reach. With a strong portfolio within Europe, where they are serving a range of clients, he is already talking to potential customers in Asia, the Middle East, and the US.

A key part of that will be increasing their team. Currently 20-strong, Decentriq will be recruiting to increase their capacity. Founded during the Covid-19 pandemic, around a third of their staff are Switzerland-based with the remainder are dotted around the globe. And remote working has, by necessity, been part of their approach. While they will continue with the European focus, they will be looking further afield to get the right staff. “We have deals in the pipeline, and work closely with companies around the world,” Groth says, “but in terms of geography, we are very flexible. In order to get the best talent, you have to hunt globally.”

For him, the potential of providing Decentriq’s clean data rooms can unleash the power of data in a way that was simply not possible before.

“A lot of positive things are developing in our field,” he explains. “Everyone understands that we all benefit from working together. We saw that with Covid, if you share data — while complying with privacy and security — everyone wins.”

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