National Enterprise Innovation Award winner InvizBox is preparing to go to market with a new device that has been designed to protect online privacy and keep internet traffic and emails safe from hackers and anyone else trying to gain access.
Company co-founder Paul Canavan says that Edward Snowden’s revelations of global surveillance show that the threat to internet privacy is now very real and should be a cause of concern to everyone everywhere.
“It is threatened by hackers and also by governments and advertising agencies using traffic analysis to track interests and behavioural patterns. internet privacy is particularly vulnerable to being breached when people use public Wi-Fi,” he says.
To counter this threat, the company plans to launch the InvizBox Go in mid-July — an updated version of a prevous product, released in 2014 — which connects to a router and encrypts traffic to protect privacy.
“Our new product creates a Virtual Private Network and works even faster faster. It is battery charged and portable and can be used with pubic Wi-Fi, [it] can charge devices, extend Wi-Fi and block ads,’’ says Mr Canavan adding that it allows users to stream online content from other regions.
With this InvizBox Go, one of only a small number of products of this type on the market, the one-year-old company is aiming to become a well recognized “ go to” company for internet privacy products.
It recently raised €100,000 in crowdfunding and has now applied for matching funding from Enterprise Ireland which identified it as a High Potential Start Up (HPSU) at the end of last year.
“We will start by selling on our website and on Amazon in the UK but are targeting major electronic retailers and aim to get into bricks and mortar stores within 12 months,’’ says co-founder Chris Monks.
InvizBox came into being as a part-time venture 2014 when, following Snowden’s revelations, the co-founders, including Mr Canavan’s wife, Elizabeth, identified a gap in the market for internet privacy protection.
Developed in their spare time, the InvizBox, went on sale on the internet in late 2014.
“We sold over 2,500 of these — the majority in the US where there is a high level of concern on internet security,” says Mr Monks.
The success of this part-time venture prompted the three of them to give up their full-time jobs in software engineering to set up a new company in early 2015.
InvizBox turned to crowdfunding to get its first product off the ground.
“All we had at the time was an idea which 580 people liked. We raised $20,000 of which 60% came from the US,” Mr Monks explains.
The three founders developed the software, had the hardware manufactured in Asia and delivered the pre-orders in March 2015.
“We have now shipped nearly 2,500 devices to over 60 countries worldwide,” he adds.
Setting up the company in February last year, the founders began working full-time on the project at an office in Rush in September. Supported by Fingal Local Enterprise Office, which organised a start your own business course, they later participated in a New Frontiers Accelerator programme.
At the end of last year, the company raised €102,420 by securing 542 preorders for its new product.
“We’ve used this funding to take on an engineer and our next step will be to employ business development staff. We plan to continue with R&D and aim to increase our staff size to 12 by the end of next year,’’ says Mr Canavan.
The founders say that they’re not operating in a very crowded space at present and see huge potential for growth as a result.
The key target for InvizBox now is the US where Mr Canavan says there is a high level of concern about internet privacy, while Germany is the company’s second largest market.
Location: Rush, Co Dublin
Directors: Paul and Elizabeth Canavan and Chris Monks
Product: Internet privacy protection device