Irish firm eyes GDPR profit

Trish Dromey talks to one Irish firm for which GDPR is an opportunity rather than a concern.

The coming into force, towards the end of May, of the EU’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) has created panic in some quarters. But, for Dublin data protection company Sytorus it is resulting in a boom in business.

“We have doubled revenue every six months since 2016,” said chief executive and co-founder John Ghent, explaining that the company’s key offering is a cutting edge personal data management platform designed to help companies achieve full compliance with the new regulation.

Selling to 500 customers and employing a staff of close to 50, Sytorus is now making plans for rapid expansion in Europe.

“We have recently completed a multi-million euro fundraising round and plan to recruit an additional 30 staff over the next nine or 10 months,” said Mr Ghent.

In August, the company will open a new office in Frankfurt, which follows the opening of one in Stockholm earlier this year and one in London in 2017.

“We are also looking at markets in Spain and Italy — our aim is to develop sales across Europe before we turn our attention to the US,” added Mr Ghent.

In 2013, the company’s three founders, Mr Ghent; chief commercial officer Mike Morrissey; and chief privacy officer Hugh Jones foresaw that further data privacy regulations would be required to deal with the increased volumes of personal data being created by advances in technology.

“We saw an opportunity for a specialised company to deliver a technology solution,” said Mr Ghent.

The aim from the beginning was to create a product, but they started out by setting up Sytorus as a data protection consultancy.

“We built up a customer base of 80 clients, mainly in Ireland, spread across a range of sectors including financial services, government, retail and energy,” said Mr Ghent.

Doing consultancy work provided the company with early revenue and also gave it the opportunity to talk to customers about their data protection needs and about the features they would require in a data management solution.

“The concept stage lasted for six months and we had a soft launch of our product in mid-2015, while still making improvements, and had a full launch in early 2016,” said Mr Ghent, explaining that the data management platform — called PrivacyEngine — was unique in being one of the first data protection platforms on the market.

“We became one of the first technology-driven data protection companies. Historically, companies had to go to cyber security companies or law firms to deal with data protection issues,” he said.

According to Mr Ghent, PrivacyEngine has been designed to allow data protection officers — which GDPR now requires a lot of companies to have — comply with the new regulation.

“It is an online SaaS tool, designed to provide all sized organisations with a complete capability that ensures they are able to maintain compliance with GDPR in a simple, but comprehensive manner,” he said.

When PrivacyEngine was launched in 2016, Sytorus had a staff of six or seven and was selling mainly in Ireland. During 2017, it began selling to enterprise level clients and opened an office in London and developed sales to several large global multinationals.

Although not at liberty to reveal its clients, Mr Ghent said the company sells to several Fortune 500 companies and has one customer which uses PrivacyEngine in every European country as well as in the US.

He believes that the company is now well on its way to achieving its goal of establishing itself as the leading data protection technology company in Europe.

The aim of the company is to maximize the advantage of being an early mover in this space. The funding round, coming from Enterprise Ireland, venture capital companies and private investors will — according to Mr Ghent — be used to expand the staff and continue with R&D.

Selected as Enterprise Irelands High Potential Start-Up Founder of the Year for 2018, Mr Ghent said he would like to see PrivacyEngine become the personal data management platform product of choice in every European country.


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