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Asian startups: This SODA is not plain

Zafar Anjum | Jan. 2, 2014
Q&A with the founders of Soda (Safe of Data App) security solution

Prof Lam: Personal privacy was an important issue and challenge faced by many consumers. I wanted to create a software that makes personal privacy easy and convenient. The software was first created for the PC and then for mobile devices as more consumers are using smartphones and tablets. SODA actually means 'Safe of Data App' -  a security solution installed on computers and mobile devices that protects users' private and confidential data. SODA acts as a 'digital safe' in which encrypted files are organized into folders that can only be read by their intended users.

Did you face any difficulties pursuing your dream of creating SODA? What were they?

Michael: Convincing Professor Lam was relatively easy but creating a usable and friendly product took some time. The idea for SODA was first conceived in January 2012 and we spent the last two years adding more features from the original conception to make the software more seamless and powerful. We wanted SODA to have a robust encryption capability that could work on mobile devices, be available cross platform and is simple to use.

Prof Lam: Apart from the technical challenges such as building cross platform support and creating a simple to use interface, the biggest challenge was to educate users so they can appreciate the importance of privacy protection on the internet.

Why did you choose Singapore over Hong Kong to set up the business? What advantages did you see in Singapore?

Michael: Setting up in Singapore was an easy choice. Professor Lam lives and works in Singapore, together with his technical development team. It will not be cost effective if we had set up anywhere else.

Prof Lam: Singapore is an efficient location to start up a business, has an excellent infrastructure, extensive Internet connectivity and high level of smartphone penetration. Compared to Hong Kong, it was also easier to find talent in the technical field in Singapore.

How is SODA different from other apps?

Prof Lam: SODA is now available cross platforms on PC and mobile devices. The SODA app offers a unique differentiation from many mobile security apps as it is built on the same proven cryptography platform used by banks and governments. The application protects the user's data in a manner that is independent of storage cloud providers.  The encryption is done on the device, not the cloud.

If you just talk about encryption, that is easy to do. The difficult part was to make it simple to use and available across different devices. SODA encrypts and organizes encrypted files into folders which make it easy and convenient for users. It's like putting a picture into a folder, you don't even see the encryption.

 

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