Once upon a time in Thales land

Algodone gives a talk at IP-SoC Days, Santa Clara 2019
April 2, 2019

In September 2018, Algodone joined the Cybersecurity program called Cyber@StationF. Managed by Thales and hosted in StationF the world’s largest Start-up campus, this program accelerates promising start-ups in the Cybersecurity Space over 6 months.

Algodone was selected along another 10 start-ups from France, Israel, the US, the UK and Singapore after a rigorous selection process managed by Thales specialists in Cybersecurity.

While we are not a Cybersecurity company in the strict sense, Algodone uses Cybersecurity concepts and algorithms in our technology and solutions. As a result, Algodone’s Silicon Activation Licensing Technology (SALT™) is one of the most reliable and secure solutions that allow secure IP tracing (SALT™ Trace), dynamic chip configuration (SALT™ Config) and deploying pay-per-use business model for innovative technologies (SALT™ Meter).

In September we started meeting with various Thales business units, key Thales executives including Thales CEO Patrice Caine. This started what can be described as a dating process with Algodone trying to understand Thales businesses and Thales looking at what Algodone can offer.

Fast forward 7 months to April 2019 at the conclusion of the program, the results have been impressive:

  • We have worked very closely with Thales Research and Technology teams to co-develop key innovative technology for a next generation product and completed a joint Proof of Concept.
  • We have participated in 20 various Thales internal and external events amongst which the FIC (Forum International de la Cybersécurité) and Thales T-Days (Annual meeting of Thales Management), culminating in the “Demo Day” where all start-ups presented to internal and external audience the results of the program.
  • We have identified 4 potential long ranging use cases and are currently working on 2.

All of these were made possible by the relentless efforts of Antonin and Rebecca at Thales Digital Factory managing the program as well as our Thales coaches Arnaud and Thierry.

A few lessons learned from our perspective:

  • Small start-ups and large corporations have different agendas and time urgency: a start-up needs to make money as quickly as it can, a week which gets by without progress is a lost week and opportunities; in a big corporation however, time is planned in weeks or months ahead; relationships and projects are built step by step so the end result can be very solid. From this perspective, both sides should take the difference into consideration when setting goals and executing towards the short finish line (6 months).
  • Small start-ups have resource limitation. Much like software licensing that is applicable to all kinds of software products, Algodone’s Silicon Activation Licensing Technology is also a fundamental technology that can be used in many diverse use cases where we basically transmit any sensitive information over non-secure mean of communication remotely. While this is very attractive to many customers and has generated broad interests, we realized as a start-up we cannot spread our limited resource thin to many projects at the same time. We have to select the right project to focus on to ensure customer success.
  • Changing mindset and business model takes time and acceptance from higher management. We have a solid technology and rarely met anyone challenging our technology, what really hold them back was the fact that we are changing and innovating business models from product-profit margin to service-ongoing value proposition. Hence to make a case, we have to aim high in management and try changing people’s mindset, gaining their agreement that this is where the semiconductor industry will go, and ultimately rewriting the plan for the next season plan to incorporate SALT™. This takes time.

The lessons we have learned at Station F are the same lessons we encounter each day in normal business activities, all being part of the challenges of bringing innovating technologies and business models to the market. The short-span of the Station F program simply condensed these experiences and made us more acutely aware of these differences.

At the conclusion of the program, not only have we made promising technology advancement and collaboration with Thales, we are also better equipped to handle some of these challenges in the real world. If someone asks me the question: given what you know today would you do the Thales Cyber@StationF program again, the answer is a short resounding YES.

We are sincerely grateful to the community and all involved for making this program a success. Good luck to Cyber@StationF 2019!

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