November 7, 2017
By Claudia Torregrosa
Kalepso is a Montreal startup that secures financial institutions’ data on the cloud, offering a quantum-resistant solution with the highest security reassurances. In October, Kalepso became TandemLaunch’s latest incubated company, a perfect opportunity to have a chat with the two company co-founders!
Tell us about your respective background!
Georgios Depastas: I hold a Master in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Greece National Technology University of Athens and a Master of Philosophy in Industrial Systems Management from Cambridge University. In 2013, I joined Barclays and ended up heading the real-time big data analytics portfolio.
Georgios Kellaris: I am a computer scientist with a PhD in data privacy from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Because I wanted to apply my work on privacy to every day life, I moved to the U.S. to complete a joint post-doc in data security with Boston and Harvard University. The existing systems for data outsourcing are susceptible to attacks; we created a technology that incorporated the latest advances in cryptography and privacy, ultimately building a system that is truly secure and resistant to attacks.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
GK: I strongly believe that all sensitive data should remain as they should be: private. That’s why I started my academic career and the reason why I focused on real-life applications. I wanted to build tools and products to be used by everyone. I could have joined a big company, but I didn’t think they would be able to implement innovative ideas right away due to the bureaucratic hurdles that come with size. Launching a startup was the quickest way to have an impact.
GD: Entrepreneurship has always been my long-term goal. At Barclays, I was involved in the first startup accelerator launched with Techstars. Also, later in my journey I lead mobile app co-development with an external startup, a process which was not easy but always rewarding. I knew I wanted to start something on my own for various reasons:
- Despite being in one of the most agile teams at Barclays, my work was a drop in the ocean- ultimately Barclays was a giant with 140,000 employees. I wanted to have a larger effect on the end result.
- Without a pre-defined structure, I was convinced I would have more space to create something from scratch.
- A large bank can make you a very empowered leader, but I needed more ownership and accountability.
What is Kalepso?
GD: We are the middleware seating between financial institutions’ environment and the cloud that ensures that all data outside of their domain remain private. Our solution allows financial institutions to securely store files and databases while retaining search, retrieval, and sharing functionalities. Kalepso effectively masks all leakage channels from everyone even if the cloud or service gets compromised.
Why should people care about your solution?
GK: In contrast to all current techniques, we have three differentiating advantages:
- Trust-free. The encryption keys all stay with the client. This means that the institution is the only one who has access to the data: it is no longer necessary to trust a cloud provider, or a software provider given that data are hidden from everyone except their owner.
- Re-encryption. Current solutions simply encrypt data, but we dynamically re-encrypt them every time they are accessed. This means that our solution is way stronger than current encryption schemes: by hiding user patterns, we don’t allow anyone to infer anything about the data or the metadata.
- Hack-proof privacy. We do more than encryption. We fuse cryptographic methods with differential privacy techniques to mask all communication channels. In parallel, we boost performance by using machine learning that allows our software to adapt to organizational needs. This means that our solution cannot be cracked, even by quantum computers.
What do you plan next?
GD: We successfully built our first prototype and have secured a $400,000 investment from TandemLaunch. We are now focusing on developing our core product while pursuing discussions with potential customers, for instance financial institutions and cloud providers. We are therefore hiring incredible Kalepso’s Heroes –right now a Software Engineer and an Intern –determined to join us to shape their own Odyssey!
Interested in joining Kalepso? Apply now to become a Hero.
Interested in building a company with TandemLaunch? Apply now to become an Entrepreneur in Residence.