Careers at Nok Nok Labs
Nok Nok Labs’ mission is to fundamentally transform authentication for online services and their end user customers by eliminating the need to rely on archaic and hazardous authentication infrastructure – such as usernames and passwords.
Ramesh Kesanupalli’s first job was as a software engineer in the cyber security realm. After that he launched or joined a series of startups, including a legacy mainframe migration firm, an online video streaming company, and a mobile phone messaging service. He then became the Chief Technology Officer of Validity Sensors, a fingerprint sensor firm, leading its market and product strategy.
During this period Kesanupalli noticed an increase in the number of companies experiencing online attacks. He felt that a significant cause of this trend was the vulnerability of the main method used to protect online accounts -- passwords. He believd that fingerprints would serve as a better authentication method, and would prevent people from having to memorize multiple passwords.
Kesanupalli and his team wrote a set of standards for the creation of solutions that would enable authentication without the use of passwords. It became known as the Online Secure Transaction Protocol (OSTP). In 2011 he launched a firm to produce servers using this protocol, called Nok Nok Labs. Its authetnication methods included fingerprints, iris scans, and voice and face recognition.
In 2013 Nok Nok Labs partnered with other tech firms to found the FIDO ("Fast IDentity Online") Alliance, an industry consortium that would utilize the standards he designed. Its membership includes firms that rely on authentication services. The protocol was renamed the FIDO Universal Authentication Framework, and today it is used by scores of service providers.
Business model of Nok Nok Labs
Nok Nok Labs has a niche market business model, with a specialized customer segment.
The company targets firms that rely on user authentication services, including online service providers, device manufacturers, security vendors, mobile network operators, and identify service providers.
Nok Nok Labs offers three primary value propositions: convenience, risk reduction, and brand/status.
The company offers convenience by simplifying clients’ operations. Its solution enables firms to verify their customers’ identities without the use of usernames and passwords. This means they do not have to keep track of all of this information, saving storage.
The company reduces risk by removing an area of vulnerability. Because it eliminates the need for usernames and passwords, clients do not have to worry about the information being stolen from their servers by nefarious parties and being used for fraud and theft, an increasingly common occurrence. Nok Nok Labs also ensures the security of its products by subjecting them to both third-party and in-house expert review. Further, it assesses them with automated security analysis tools.
The company has established a strong brand due to its success. It has won a number of prominent awards, including the following:
- SC Magazine 2016 Trust Award in the Multifactor Authententication Solution category
- Recognition as one of CRN’s Emerging Vendors for 2013
- Recognition as a finalist for the RSA Innovation Sandbox 2013
- Recognition as a SINET16 innovator
- Recognition as one of Network World’s “Must-Watch Security Startup for 2013“
- Recognition by Dark Reading as one of the “20 Security Start-Ups to Watch“
Nok Nok Labs’ main channel is its direct sales team. The company promotes its offering through its website, social media pages, and participation in summits and conferences.
Nok Nok Labs’ customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature.
Customers utilize its products while having limited interaction with employees. The company’s website features a “Resources” section that includes self-help tools such as white papers, data sheets, third-party research, videos, and webinars. The site also provides answers to frequently asked questions.
That said, there is a personal assistance component in the form of phone and e-mail support.
Nok Nok Labs’ business model entails designing and developing servers for its customers.
Nok Nok Labs maintains partnerships with other firms through which they promote and sell the company’s offerings to their customers. It specifically works with value-added resellers, systems integrators, and consultancies, primarily those focusing on Information Security or Identity & Access Management (IAM) solutions. Partners receive pricing benefits, demo environments, and exclusive access to server technology.
As mentioned previously, Nok Nok Labs is a founding member of the FIDO Alliance, which promotes usage of the protocol Kesanupalli’s team designed. The company provides testing infrastructure used in FIDO certification at the alliance. As of June 2015, the group had over 200 members, including PC and smartphone manufacturers, silicon and secure element chipset manufacturers, browser and operating system vendors, and a broad range of authentication providers.
Nok Nok Labs’ main resource is its engineering employees, who design and develop its servers and software.
It also depends on its sales staff to promote its solutions and its customer service employees to provide support.
Lastly, as a relatively new startup it has relied heavily on funding from outside parties, raising $47.8 million from nine investors as of August 2015.
Nok Nok Labs has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through frequent product enhancements.
Its biggest cost driver is likely sales/marketing, a fixed cost. Other major drivers are in the areas of research/development and product development, both fixed expenses.
Nok Nok Labs has one revenue stream: revenues it generates from the sale of its servers. The company’s sales staff must be contacted directly for pricing quotes.
info: Phillip earned a B.A. in Political Science from Westmont College. He previously served as Co-Founder and CEO of PGP Corporation, where he worked for eight years, as well as President and CEO of Embark and COO of Vantive Corporation.
info: Ramesh earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Nagarjuna University. He previously served as CTO of Validity Sensors and as CEO of Object Connect.
info: Rajiv earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Chemical Engineering from The Maharaja Sayajirao University. He previously served as VP & General Manager at Symantec and VP of Strategy & Corporate Development at PGP Corporation.
info: Naga earned a B.Tech. in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur and an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Oregon. He previously served as Vice President, Product Development at Oracle.
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