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When Augustine Lim applied for the ‘RSA Conference Asia Pacific and Japan 2014 Innovation Sandbox Most Innovative Start Up’ — a well-known and prestigious event to discover the best talent in the cyber security space — for his venture Digify, he wanted to give it his best shot, so that even if it did not win the first prize, it would be a good platform to announce his startup’s arrival. So, Lim, along with his Co-founder Chee-Yuh Loong, prepared hard for the event knowing that there would be other security startups from the region to give them a tough fight.

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“We expected the competition to be tough,” says Lim, who holds a Master’s Degree from the Technical University of Munich (Germany). “The event format was a three-minute pitch followed by a Q&A session. It was challenging to compress everything within the time limit. One decision we made was to include a quick demo of the product despite the severe time limitation. We did this in order to show how easy it is to protect ideas and information using Digify. In fact, the ease of use of solving the problem seems to be what won the judges over,” he adds.

What is Digify?

Digify (run by Singapore-based Digify Pte Ltd) helps protect important files from copying, printing, and downloading. Here, the sender (of the file) retains full ownership of the information, allowing him/her to track and un-share it any time. “As of now, there is no solution to track the files you share online, and you have no idea who all see and access these important files. More importantly, you can never take it back. This is where Digify comes into the picture,” explains Lim.

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“Simply put, Digify is a ‘Snapchat for businesses’ and it can also be called the ‘Mission Impossible app’ for its ability to protect files from screenshots by having them self-destruct at a given time. This app can be used to send non-disclosure agreements, pitch decks, proposals, due diligence and investor updates,” he adds.

The trigger

The idea for the app came to Lim when he felt quite uncomfortable sending sensitive information to a company. Worried about leakage of intellectual property and proprietary information, he found no effective digital solution to protect his information from redistribution, or set a time limit to access it, once he had sent it. “In the end, I removed information from the file, making it less interesting and useful. Realising that many other professionals and executives face the same issue, we started our plans to develop the app,” he says.

Lim shares that Digify currently has users all over the world. Its major markets are the US, Europe, South America and Asia. The startup is seeing strong interest from US and Europe. “Our users like us for our comprehensive document security, Dropbox-like simplicity and the control they have on their files,” Lim says.

RSA Innovation Sandbox

Lim says that the RSA Innovation Sandbox contest helped Digify earn credibility across geographies. “The main benefit we saw was the credibility it brought us as a security startup. This was a good opportunity for us that opened doors to help us get meetings with investors and potential partners.

“The prize for winning the competition was an all-expense paid trip to RSA in San Francisco. Attending the event helped get us interviews with the US and international press,” he says.

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Digify officially launched the app the day after winning the contest. “We (anyway) intended to do so because even if we did not win the contest, RSA’s security theme was a perfect environment for us to launch. Winning the RSA Innovation Sandbox was the icing on the cake and it helped us get strong coverage from the press,” he says.

Afterwards, Digify participated in or won several other competitions such as SVForum Startup Expo (Winner), SITF Awards (Best Startup Winner), SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards (Security and Privacy Finalist), and CTIA MobileCon Cup (Runner-up).

Learnings from the event

Lim believes that Innovation Sandbox is an excellent way of promoting startups with interesting ideas. The security landscape is changing all the time, and compromises in security greatly impact individuals and businesses — even more so now with so much information being stored electronically. “Therefore, new and creative solutions are always needed. The RSA Innovation Sandbox is a good avenue to feature startups with new, creative solutions. Digify is proud to be an ISB Winner, especially with RSA’s excellent track record,” he concludes.

The RSAC APJ Innovation Sandbox Most Innovative Start Up will be held at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on July 21, 2015. The call for entries were from May 6 to May 19, and the deadline for applications is June 19. The shortlisted applicants will be notified on June 29, 2015.

Who should apply? Entrepreneurs who have potential to make a significant impact on the information security space.