CBR talks to hot BYOD startup Enterproid which recently won Qualcomm’s QPrize about the state of the enterprise mobile market, and how businesses can handle BYOD.
Enterproid CCO Alexander Trewby is also the co-founder. The three founders emerged from Morgan Stanley’s mobile application development division, got a boost from Google and venture capitalist funds and has just launched its iOS focused ‘Divide’ app for enterprise. The company was Qualcomm’s $250,000 Q-Prize winner, which Trewby says gave the fledgling company finances, mentoring and networking opportunities it may not have had otherwise.
Enterproid’s ‘Divide’ service is a BYOD tools that puts a company’s data into a separate container on a mobile or tablet device. This means workers have a choice on how they use their device for personal uses, while enterprise IT managers worry less about security issues.
Alexander Trewby, CCO and co-founder of Enterproid
The three of you worked in Morgan Stanley as part of the mobile development team, how did that lead to starting Enterproid?
"David Zhu (CTO) left Morgan Stanley to work at audio app company Smule; he was the first employee and lead engineer there. Andrew [Toy – CEO] worked at Viacom with MTV running its mobile applications – as a result, both provide a good level of experience in the consumer space. We all came back together to work on enterprise apps, gathered a tiny bit of financing from our old mentors and bosses, and went about creating our prototype [for Divide]."
You had quite a good run in terms of raising initial funding. What gave your company the kick start it needed?
"Well, we’re lucky in that the majority of CIOs on Wall Street are actually ex-Morgan Stanley. Google’s CIO was old Morgan Stanley. So we worked for him previously, and he gave us advice in development. He told us not to fork the operating system; that it would cause us problems later. We built up from the framework and created this virtualised container – a separate work space – just in software at the app layer.
"Through that we met the Google Nexus team – they told us that we’d gone too far, and we needed to slow down and create some apps before going any further. So within that container – effectively a separate phone – we would put all the applications a businessman would need to get them up and running straight away."
Where did Qualcomm come in?
"Qualcomm at the time (2009/10) were producing most of the Android-based smartphone chipsets. Once our prototype was complete, we still needed exposure and more funding, and so applied for the Qualcomm QPrize. It was great for practising our pitch, they gave us great feedback."
So why did you go into the MDM space?
"The major trend in mobile is now the ‘bring your own device’ trend. Individuals now want to bring any device they want into the office. It’s a natural evolution, similar to company cars. Once upon a time you would be given a company car to run around the country as you see fit, now you bring your own car and spec back the mileage. The same thing happened with laptops later. This is happening with mobile now."
Qualcomm has been doing a lot of work integrating the software layers to its hardware via on-chip security platform TrustZone, do you plan to take advantage of this in the future? What opportunities do you foresee here?
"Yes indeed. Qualcomm-ARM’s Trustzone technology enables us to take our security from software, down into the chip – so we can effectively ‘bake’ that security into the silicon. This is something we’ve been working with them on for about a year or so, this is a completely brand new technology and we’re going to be one of Qualcomm’s presentation partners. This is particularly important for us, as it is where our defence and government [market] opportunities reside. Not even Blackberry bakes this kind of security technology into the chip."
How will this work with Apple? It is notoriously cagey about letting any partners have access to its hardware…
"There are different ways of dealing with different companies. We have very good relationships there. We have our experiences in the market, and we try and convey that to Apple, to let them know where sentiment is going."
So these added security features won’t work with the iPhone then?
"In terms of our product, with Android, it effectively operates as a separate phone. You launch the app, and for all intents and purposes, it looks and feels like a separate phone. And that ‘second phone’ is an absolutely secure, corporate container – everything is encrypted and stored in a separate database – your calendar, your mail. You can ring as a separate number within the container. On an iPhone, we can’t do that."
What do you mean calling from a separate number? There is usually only the single SIM card in the Android device?
"What we do at the network layer is we integrate with the PBX… Essentially what it is doing is creating a conference bridge, which re-routes the call through the corporate PBX to call, say, my mother. The number comes up on her screen as the PBX."
What about integration with other platforms, such as Windows Phone 7/8?
"Extremely interesting, would love to do it. But we are listening to our customers and we are not seeing the demand there yet."
So other that this chip level protection, your offering sounds pretty similar to a lot of other MDM software – what do you do differently?
"We have this problem a lot – people keep thinking we’re an MDM company. We are more a ‘endpoint secure container’ – a secure workspace. Our platform does have a very lightweight MDM component to it, but it is also capable of working with any other Mobile Device Management (MDM) software.
So you plan to work with existing MDM providers then? They aren’t your competition?
"We are going to be announcing a number of MDM partners, about half a dozen or so. So there may be plenty of companies on existing MDM platforms are happy, but maybe their users are saying ‘Well I don’t want my corporate screen-lock around my entire device. I want the freedom to use whatever software or app I want’. In BYOD, users don’t want to have their whole device managed by the company. With our offering, the company can control just the container, and not the entire device."
So how well has ‘Divide’ been received?
"Through Google we have had hundreds of thousands of downloads, and it’s in the Google Play store at the moment. With the iOS launch we expect to start really leveraging our channels and our Salesforce in that respect. "
Where to next?
"We still want to grow the platform. So our focus is on integrating with more MDM services, with more voice providers, more identity management providers, such as Ping Identity and cloud management.
"The other option for the second container would be a ‘kid mode’. When handing ones phone to ones child, it would stop them from emailing your boss, or calling Australia. So there are some options we are looking at there."
"And of course there is Facebook, and the concept of a Facebook phone. A place where you could use Skype, and have it use your Facebook contacts, and having the newsfeed be your wall in the container, and so on and so forth."
"Finally, bringing it to the desktop. You can have this container, a separate work space, operating similar to the mobile versions above."
"So we have plenty of opportunities. But we come from the enterprise, that’s what we know and this is the experience that we are working on at the moment. Our goal remains to produce a compelling and productive work environment, which can be ported and taken with the user to any phone."