Munich-based startup IDEE is developing unique and trustworthy digital identities. Based on cryptography and blockchain technology they are userfriendly and more important: They can not be stolen. Today, 15 women and men work for the patented technology at offices in Munich, London and Beldgrad. Founder Al Lakhani answered our 7 questions.
1. Who are you and what do you do? Please briefly introduce yourselves and your business!
My name is Al Lakhani, I am43 years old and I am the founder and CEO of IDEE. Prior to founding IDEE, I worked for almost 20 years in forensic data analysis and cybercrime investigations mainly in Europe and the US. I founded and led the forensic investigation practice of Alvarez & Marsal which grew up to 65 employees and 35 million US-Dollar in sales annually during my 12-year leadership.
Over the years and with the rise of data breaches, I developed the vision of a unique and trustworthy identity that cannot be stolen. That’s why I developed the IDEE technology, supported by multiple patents, in a small cafe in London in 2015: A digital identity based on the smartphone, cryptography and blockchain technology.
The weakest link is always the absence of a unique identity
After we had achieved that identities could not be stolen, we made the identity re-usable so that end users can share their information to instantly sign-up for other products and services without data entry — by this, we give businesses the opportunity to monetize their customer data.
2. But that’s nothing out of the box!
What I learned during my time as a cybersecurity expert and data analyst was that when millions of user accounts are hacked — then the weakest link is always the absence of a unique identity. User credentials can easily be stolen or faked. Before IDEE, the only alternative for businesses was to make the authentication process really complex. However, this makes it inconvenient for everyone to work, to shop, and to consume. So, everything comes down to the same questions: How can you make digital identities secure, trustworthy and convenient?
That’s why we developed the IDEE digital identity, that gets rid of passwords, cannot be stolen and is designed with a maximum of customer-centricity: For every transaction all you must do is unlock your phone.
3. What was your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge for us are the lengthy and big processes of the big corporates that we want to work with. We as a startup are used to act fast, flexible and agile. But the companies move quite slowly. So, until you get the first paying customers, it’s a long and intense process. But the good thing is: As soon as you went through all these steps, every relevant stakeholder is convinced and supports you inside the company.
“Lederhosen are part of our corporate identity.”
5. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?
Business is going great. We have 10 pilots running with big corporates in the retail, the banking and the mobility industry. By the end of the year, the implementation of our solution for age verification in the UK starts. This use case gives us a potential of 26 million users.
6. What does Munich mean to you?
I am not born in Munich, but I love it. For my team and me, it’s the place to be. The startup community is great, there are a lot of big corporates here that love working together with innovative startups. And on top of that, the atmosphere in the city is just amazing. We love the whole beer garden culture including Lederhosen! Actually, Lederhosen are part of our corporate identity. For every pitch and public event, we wear them – and we love it!
“We are replacing an outdated concept”
7. How will your startup become the next unicorn? Or will we be seeing you at an Epic Fail Night soon?
IDEE will revolutionize the market for authentication, identification and authorization. Every person authenticates several times a day, for example for carsharing, office doors, work stations and many more digital services. We are replacing the 50-year-old outdated concept of username and password. 81% of all breaches are related to passwords. In 2017, more than 2.3 billion credentials were stolen. We provide the technology that eradicates theft of credentials. Additionally, IDEE uses the same technology that runs blockchain.
That we are a innovative tech startup on the rise, can be seen in the awards we are winning in quick succession. One of the most important ones for us: Last year we won the ‘Innovationspreis des Handels’ of the German Retail Association.
8. Isar or English Garden?
I have been living in Munich together with my wife and my two sons for some time now. Well actually, we have three children. The third one is Newton, our cute and cheeky Golden Retriever. We all love Munich for being so green and natural. We live very close to the English Garden. That’s why I would say that I prefer it — running alongside the Eisbach with Newton, especially now in Summer, is amazing!