We had not “mixed” it up with Andrew Grochal for a few years, so we were due for a quick catchup. As it turned out, our timing was fortuitous. The Heartbleed bug was turning into a full blown influenza and the “change your password” cry was coming from all corners of the Internet. So, who better to share seaweed salad and conversation about password security with than the VP of Operations of Certus Technology Systems, a company that is going to make your smartphone your password…sort of.
We first met Andrew at a Tech Cocktail Demo Day at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge where he was showcasing his new networking app Mixer (click link – if you look closely, you can actually find John Garvey in the crowd). Mixer was a fun app that used data from LinkedIn to help you connect to others at an event. The moment of connection was called a “Mixer Moment” and the GCAi team had one – making a valuable connection who we are still in close contact with today. For a variety of reasons, Andrew and his team put Mixer on the backburner (the way backburner), but it wasn’t long he started working on his next best thing.
The GCAi Digital Marketing team had the opportunity to grab a bite in Boston with Andrew recently and we were very impressed with his new venture. Essentially, the Certus app that you have on your phone serves as an authentication platform that allows you to log on without a password. That is just where the magic started as our discussion quickly expanded to the multiple ways online vendors could use this technology to engage customers in a highly secure way. “Every time you log in to a site, we’re generating a unique, one-time use password that only exists for a split second. It’s a kind of sound fingerprint that your smartphone creates, and the other device hears,” Andrew recently explained to Scott Kirsner in a recent BetaBoston article. Certus reports that more than 60% of consumers have five or more passwords. Couple that with a recent Huffington Post article stating that “12345” was the most popular password of 2013, you can see how much consumers hate passwords and how hackers love that!
Andrew demoed the Cetrus app for us right there in the restaurant. It’s voice authentication and facial recognition features worked flawlessly. He told us that he is meeting regularly with interested investors and is in the middle of a pilot test. According to the BetaBoston article, Andrew, Jack Wolosewicz,
Founder/CTO, and Paul McGowan, VP of Sales, have already raise nearly $400,000 in seed funding.
No more passwords? Now that’s something to get hysterical about.