Fake identities on the web are a major problem and sometimes very hard to detect. Especially within the realm of cyber bullying, fake accounts can cause suicide in children. A lot can just be plain annoying and cause companies major headaches, just ask Facebook. Local startup Trulioo, is attacking the problem of fake online accounts straight on and aiming to mitigate its adverse effects on society.
1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and what inspired you to create it.
We are Stephen Ufford and Tanis Jorge, founders of Trulioo. After over a decade building and selling tech companies in the Vancouver area we started Trulioo to address the growing concern of fake identities on the web. Hearing horror stories from friend’s experiences with online dating and the many fake profiles inspired the idea.
2. What are some of the most creative or malicious fake accounts you have had to block and what are some best practices that companies should use to block these spammers to prevent them from succeeding?
Although there are countless unscrupulous uses for fake online identities, profiles created for the purposes of cyber bullying is probably the most malicious we have seen primarily because they usually target children and have been known to cause suicides. These types of profiles can be detected and disabled either through a manual human review process looking for key indicators or using automated tools like the ones Trulioo offers which enable companies to quickly screen out these types of accounts before they can cause damage.
3. How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Trulioo?
When we started our first business in 2001, the startup community here was very small. The many pitfalls and challenges that are unique to startups were something you had to figure out yourself through a trial and error process. Today the startup community has grown to such a degree that there is the support and encouragement necessary to make the journey simpler and more successful. For Trulioo, we have found that there is a larger talent pool of people looking to capitalize on the high potential rewards of joining a startup. They understand the risks but despite them are excited to undertake the challenge. Having access to these kinds of entrepreneurial people makes our job much easier!
4. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?
Finding sufficient funding is probably the biggest challenge for those looking to substantially grow their businesses in Vancouver. We had to look south of the border to Silicon Valley in order to raise the capital necessary to build the company. Thanks to recent successful investments in local companies like Hootsuite, many US venture capital firms are developing a positive view of investment in Canadian companies thanks to the government grants and tax incentives available here. We took advantage of this benefit and built a bridge to take advantage of the best of both worlds.
5. What core problem are you specifically solving for Vancouverites?
Being known when you want to be online – has many benefits for not only Vancouverites but all Internet users. It will ease access to resources and information with government, increase safety when transacting in peer-to-peer environments like Ebay, and can make daily interactions with your favorite companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook more enjoyable.
6. What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
Andre Durand, CEO and Founder of Ping Identity with offices here in Vancouver is really an inspiration. His is a humble and passionate person who strives to do the “right thing”. He has an authentic work hard/play hard mentality that permeates the corporate culture and ensures that people feel appreciated and excited to come to work. For all his success he remains down to earth, approachable and genuinely interested in people. His positive outlook on life and his excitement for the future inspires you to believe the best and make a difference.
7. What Vancouver celebrity would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Joanne Greenwood for her work with Be Bold, the unique anti-bullying campaign started here in Vancouver that has caught on around the world and includes sponsors like Facebook. The campaign contributes to the local Amanda Todd Legacy fund, which was created following Amanda’s suicide after being cyber bullied.
8. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Keep it all in perspective and enjoy the journey. Make sure that when you look back, whether you succeeded or failed, you will be able to say that it was a great ride, you learned a ton, built lifelong friendships, had many laughs and enjoyed it enough to want to do it all again.
*End of interview*
Stephen and Tanis have a great startup they’re working on to solve a major problem and threat to companies and consumers alike. With the help of brilliant engineers like Charles Krempeaux, we have no doubt that the Trulioo team will continue to innovate the product and continue to clean up other peoples messes. The teams experience and financial backing from The Valley demonstrates that they’re on an aggressive path to growth and becoming the leaders in fixing this underrated and highly costly problem.
*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to [email protected] to explain why you’re a fit*