[Interview] Dashlane Cofounder Alexis Fogel discusses their simple, secure and universal solution

Aug 11, 2014
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Throughout the July / August vacation period, the Rude Baguette will be running a series of interviews with some of France’s top and rising startups, where their founders give us more insight into their business, their future plans and what sets them apart from the rest. In our first installment, we talk with Alexis Fogel Dashlane’s Cofounder and Product Director, who with users around the globe and accolades from the likes of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, are quickly building a name for themselves as the best in the online security business.

For those readers who don’t know Dashlane, tell us about what you do and how the idea to start Dashlane came about?

Dashlane is a cross-platform password manager and digital wallet app that makes online login, registration, and checkout seamless. Wherever you need to enter personal information on the web, such as passwords, addresses or credit cards, Dashlane will automatically enter them for you. Plus, it syncs your info across all your devices, so you can access your passwords anywhere. And we do this all while preserving your privacy and security.

Originally, the idea behind Dashlane was not so much about online identity. It was more about going faster on the web – automating actions in the background, such as retrieving information from personal accounts and scraping different websites simultaneously to help users find things faster. During the product development phase, we realized, thanks to focus groups and user testing, that what was really painful for users was not looking for things on the web. Actually, it was dealing with friction points, like authentication and checkout forms. We discovered that online identity management was a real problem for users. So we decided to focus our energy on that issue and to create a solution works on any website without requiring any integration.


dashlane (1)How crowded is the online security space? What sets Dashlane apart from the rest?

There are new players arriving in the security space every day, as it’s getting a lot of attention. But the barrier to entry is quite high. For everything related to identity, not only do you have to deal with sensitive information while making sure your security architecture is reliable and scalable, but you also need to build integration with other apps, such as browsers, to provide value to your users. On top of that you need to create an app that’s simple and trustworthy enough so people will actually use it.

We focus on keeping things simple in terms of user experience – that’s what makes Dashlane different. We reconcile security and convenience so there is no tradeoff between being better protected and more efficient online. Our app is designed to be used by non-tech savvy people, as the issue we tackle is universal. It’s the reason why Dashlane was featured as the best password manager by mainstream newspapers in the US, like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. A good example to illustrate this is the new Sharing Center we released with Dashlane 3. We deal with all the complex actions in the background, so users have an easy time when sharing and managing their passwords across their team. The feedback we got from startups that use it is that it is the only tool that actually makes it easier for them to share passwords in the app versus sending an email. And when you share with the app, of course, you’re getting the best of breed in terms of security. We also have unique features, like our Emergency feature, which lets you designate an emergency contact that can access your passwords if something happens to you or you’re just unreachable. The technology behind it is so complex, but it takes the user 3 steps to set up a new contact.

Security is obviously at the heart of Dashlane. From password management to digital wallet, Dashlane is known for its rock solid security. Tell us a bit about how you are able to deliver maximum security for your users.

The key is that we don’t trust ourselves with your data: your data is always encrypted locally on your devices and nobody at Dashlane can access it. Thanks to our unique architecture, we don’t have to store your master password anywhere, nor transmit it over the Internet. This is the reason why Dashlane was not affected by Heartbleed (the recent OpenSSL vulnerability): your master password is only used locally to cipher your data, and we only send encrypted data to our servers. Thanks to that, even if a rogue employee or a hacker gets access to our servers, your data remains safe.

04dashlaneTwitter just announced that they bought Mitro, a NYC based password security startup. Would you say that the market (investors, tech giants and others) are starting to see the substantial potential of the online security space?

The online security space is indeed getting a lot of attention, and it is easy to understand why. There isn’t a week that goes by where a security breach is not disclosed. Just look at what happened few days ago with the announcement of 1.2 billion credentials having been stolen. Now that people have an average of around fifty accounts and two or three devices, the need for services to help them manage their online identity is bigger than ever. That being said, in the case of Mitro, I might be wrong but I see it more as an acqui-hire. I don’t think Twitter wants to go into the security space, especially when you take into consideration that Mitro was at a very early stage of development and Twitter has made it open-source.

Dashlane’s user-base and reach is clearly highly international. How did you grow internationally so quickly? Which new markets are you looking to expand into and why?

Dashlane has been international from day one, as we decided to launch in both the US and France at the same time. This is one of the reasons why we raised money in the US, and why we opened an office in NY. The tech scene over there is very active, and we wanted to be part of it right from beginning. Not to mention that the market is a lot bigger in the US, and people there are more active on the Internet, especially when it comes to online shopping. However, 95% of the work on the product is done in Paris, and we are super happy to have that double nationality, as we have a huge pool of super smart people here. Even though we still have plenty of things to do in France and in the US, we will probably start expanding soon to South America, Europe, and potentially Asia.

You’ve just raised a huge $22 million round this past spring. What are the goals you’re looking to achieve from this investment round. What’s next for you?

We are currently reinforcing the team in Engineering, Product and Marketing, so we can go even faster than we currently do. We still have many features that we want to want add to Dashlane to continue improving the management of your online identity. You can expect great things to be released in the next couple of months.

 

Dashlane will also be recruiting at our upcoming Paris Startup Job Fair at the CentQuatre on September 13th.  So if you’re looking to make your next career move, make sure to sign-up today!

Startups and other high-growth tech companies, if you’re looking to expand your team, make sure to fill-out this form and we’ll get back to you asap!