#9: Timothée Rebours

Episode 9 - Timothée Rebours - Seald: Not your father’s encryption product

Key take-aways:

  • Formed team with complementary skills during UC Berkeley program

  • No interest in working for a large company

  • Always loved encryption, sought an easy answer to a serious problem

  • More secure for large organizations, consultants, going to the cloud

  • Paris makes good business sense thanks to lower costs, BPI & ecosystem

  • French businesses are more engaged with startups

  • Focused on building base in France, then take abroad

Ten years ago, students often dreamed of hopping into the corporate world following graduation.  It was safe, it was comfortable and that’s just what one did in France.  While it can still make sense for many, more young graduates want to dive straight into the startup world.  Sure it’s tough and there’s not the security blanket of a big company and a big team, but for people like Timothée and his co-founders at Seald.io, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

The idea behind the encryption product was one that started years ago for Timothée.  He always had a strong interest in security and encryption so when he needed to create something for his graduate studies program at UC Berkeley, he thought back to his childhood idea of encrypting his dad’s email messages and the ongoing problem of sensitive data being encrypted.

Another continuous challenge is making it easy.  As a kid, Timothée would explain to his dad the dozens of steps he could take to secure his emails. His father was already interested in the concept, but Timothée knew that all those steps would make it impossible to implement in the corporate world.  

To bring all this together, Timothée joined up with Mehdi Kouhen and Maxime Huber to form the initial team. Each brought something to the table and together they delivered a really nice, easy-to-use encryption solution that protects sensitive data on email and beyond. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of ease-of-use, whether it’s one or even zero-click functionality.  It’s a core focus of the team.

The end result for users is a product that makes it easy to properly encrypt sensitive information that’s being distributed via email, Dropbox, or other tools.  For companies moving sensitive data into the cloud, they too now have a solution to sleep well at night.

Seald.io has enjoyed market success with early-mover accounts in France, where they’re close to customers and have received helpful impact.  Timothée asserted that large French companies are changing and are engaging with startups better than in the past.  This is indeed a welcome sign and we’re thrilled to hear it.

The benefit for Seald.io and the rest of the French tech startup world is that it’s easy to build our your initial product offering with local customers and then take it on the road to other markets.  It’s an enormous expense for startups to have to travel to another country - this means train or plane tickets, hotels, etc - when getting started, money that could be better spent on building out the product and the team.

On the subject of future growth, Timothée gave high marks to BPI and the rapid help they provided.  It’s hard to underestimate the positive impact BPI has had for the startup world.  As for launching in Paris, when San Francisco or London could have been an option in the past, he sees the benefits of setting up in Paris over the rest.  Timothée says that the cost in France is lower for developers and the overall support structures for startups has improved dramatically.

Once the team is comfortable with its initial product, they will explore market expansion, but only after they’ve properly studied and understood those other markets. An unwise decision of jumping in headfirst could be a fatal move, so besides a smart product, the Seald.io team is also making some smart business decisions.

Delivering an easy-to-use encryption product that can protect sensitive data has been a market challenge for years but Seald.io is building a tool that will finally make this a problem of the past.