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Australian startup's software tracks how companies execute strategy

Jeremy Kirk | Aug. 28, 2013
Cascade is a web-based application that links employees more directly to a company's strategic plans.

"You can immediately see in a very visual way how aligned your organization is," Wright said. "Within the first month or so, you will have a very good indicator of whether or not you are going to succeed."

In true startup fashion, Perriard and Wright coded the first iteration of Cascade, which was released in February. Now they have a lead developer and are both moving toward the business side.

Cascade is hosted on Amazon's cloud infrastructure in Australia. Since Cascade handles very sensitive data, the data is encrypted using 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). To assuage concerns with using cloud storage, Cascade consulted Israeli cryptography experts to implement partial homomorphic encryption.

Encrypted data is descrambled with a key, and management of those keys poses a great security responsibility. Cascade's implementation allows the data to be decrypted with a still-encrypted key, Wright said.

It requires a lot of CPU power, but it means a third party does not have to be trusted with the key. If Cascade was compromised, attackers would only get encrypted data and an encrypted key, which would be useless, Wright said.

The system "allows what everyone thought was impossible," Perriard said. "It allows you to have the most encrypted data at rest without a third party. So it's brilliant. You save costs, and you have the most secure data at rest."

In what may be a rarity in the startup world, Cascade actually turned down a venture capital offer of investment. They didn't even know what their company was worth, Wright said.

"I think from our perspective, we agree it was the right thing to turn it down," Wright said.

"We took the radical, opposite approach, which was literally: everything we don't know how to do, we have to learn it. Tom had to learn some graphic skills, I had to do some video editing," Perriard said. Everything that was too much of an investment to learn, we outsourced it."

That outsourcing included the drawing of meerkats, which grace their Responsis logo, and the homomorphic encryption technology, Wright said.

Aside from themselves, they just have two full-time employees. A 60-person contract team helps with support. They've also landed customers, including from UNICEF Australia and a major player in the credit card business. To allow them to continue without VC funding, Cascade charges $120 per user per year, paid one year in advance.

 

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