Rising Star 2016: GuardSquare
A world player in security software for mobile applications
In Deloitte’s 'Technology Fast 50' competition, which was held on 16 November 2016, the ten most promising companies that have been active for fewer than four years were nominated for the title of ‘Rising Star 2016’. Chaired by Duco Sickinghe, CEO of Fortino, the panel of judges assessed the investor pitch of each company on the flexibility of their business concept, the worldwide market potential, the quality of management and the disruptive capacity of the innovation. In the end, the award for Rising Star 2016 went to the Leuven-based GuardSquare, which specialises in security for mobile applications.
GuardSquare has existed as a company since 2014, but the story of Heidi Rakels and Eric Lafortune goes back to 2001, in fact, when they brought on the market ProGuard, an optimisation tool for Java applications that made apps smaller, faster and safer. With the advent of the mobile internet, ProGuard was inserted by Google in the Android Software Development Kit. This ultimately led in 2012 to DexGuard, a product that offered protection for Android applications. Now, iXGuard is also available for iOS applications.
Hacking apps is less difficult than users tend to think. Highly varied damage can be caused as a result with above all serious consequences: stolen logins, licence circumvention, financial loss and severely besmirched reputation.
GuardSquare customers include in particular a rapidly growing number of financial services ranging from international banks to credit institutions and on to insurance companies.
GuardSquare has a positive cash flow. That is not self evident for a start-up. Growth of ca. 350% is expected for this year, and the commercial structure is being strengthened. The company is also looking into whether additional capital has to be tapped.
Co-CEO Heidi Rakels: “We have the best solution on the market when it comes to protection for Android. We also have a solution for iOS, which we will raise to the same level in the coming months. We must keep improving these solutions continuously, because security is a never ending cat-and-mouse game with hackers.
We add mobile security libraries step by step, e.g. white-box cryptography,
device fingerprinting, secure keyboard... which are interesting for some customers.
As soon as 'The Internet of Things' is more standardised, we will develop a strong solution there as well and explore the market.”
Winning an award is never a goal in itself, but it shows that we are on the right track. We appreciate it all the more because the panel of judges was composed of experts (including Duco Sickinghe, Dries Buytaert, and others).
Heidi Rakels, Co-CEO GuardSquare
Delighted with the recognition
The company is clearly very happy with the Rising Star Award 2016. Heidi Rakels: “Winning an award is never a goal in itself, but it shows that we are on the right track. We appreciate it all the more because the panel of judges was composed of experts (including Duco Sickinghe, Dries Buytaert, and others). It is also very pleasant to celebrate triumphs with a glass of champagne now and then. This prize confers name recognition and confidence. This is particularly interesting in Belgium where suspicion and mistrust all too often still reign about young companies. But perhaps, the most important value is that it helps us with our search for scarce qualified staff.”
GuardSquare, winner Rising Star 2016
From left to right: Nikolaas Tahon (Programme Lead Fast 50), Piet Vandendriessche (CEO Deloitte Belgium), Heidi Rakels (CEO GuardSquare), Duco Sickinghe (President of the Rising Star Jury – CEO Fortino)