Trulioo is disrupting the traditional ID verification business by building cost-effective, advanced identity solutions for small and medium firms

By Editor January 2, 2013

Trulioo logoA Q&A with Trulioo co-founder and CEO Stephen Ufford. The Vancouver–based company was founded in 2009 and closed a $2 million Seed funding round in late November from Blumberg Capital.

SUB: Please describe Trulioo and your value proposition.

Ufford: Trulioo is the world’s first social driven identity bureau providing online businesses with tools to know their users better. We deliver contextual identity and risk management solutions to our customers in 186 countries and 30 languages.

SUB: Who are your target markets and users?

Ufford: We target the long tail of the web with companies who need to verify their users in low to medium-value transactions.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?

Ufford: Trulioo disrupts traditional identity data and risk management markets traditionally dominated by regional credit bureaus and data aggregators.

SUB: What differentiates Trulioo from the competition?

Ufford: Trulioo’s products are designed for the web, and suited for moderately valued transactions where the amount of work and cost required to perpetrate the fraud exceeds the transaction value. Our services provide global coverage, are low friction for users, and are priced to support SME.

SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?

Ufford: Trulioo was founded in September 2009 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, by myself and my co-founder, Tanis Jorge. Bootstrapped by founder dollars, we built our first product prototypes, filed patents, negotiated customer and partners contracts, and hired our first employees.

SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Trulioo? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?

Ufford: With over ten years of experience in consumer credit and identity across three other startups, we saw that traditional identity verification products originally designed for the financial sector were unable to service small, medium, and large web companies due to data coverage limitations, a high friction user experience and antiquated cost models that cannot scale to support large user bases.

SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?

Ufford: We like names that clearly state the value proposition of products and services. We think Trulioo—pronounced ‘Truly You’—does that well. Also, like most startups on a budget these days that want a ‘.com’ domain, you have to get creative.

SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?

Ufford: Due the global nature of our products, our first customers ended up being outside North America. This presents its own set of challenges both in product development and capital utilization. Because there is so much need for a product offering like ours, having our product development keep up with business development poses a challenge. The opportunities abound and we need to choose wisely and execute efficiently.

SUB: You recently raised $2 million in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds? 

Ufford: HR, product and business development.

SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?

Ufford: The focus over the last couple years has been on ‘the next great app’. We have found that VCs are now looking for innovation. They are looking for a game-changer, something that has the ability to impact the world. I think if you can show that, you have their attention.

SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?

Ufford: We have just launched our first product, ProfilePlus, which is a free product available to businesses that want to add an additional layer of authentication to Facebook Connect. Social Verify and other Identity Bureau products will continue to increase the level of assurance around user identity by providing attribute verification as well as user behavior indicators to drive revenues for websites and reduce costs associated with fraud. These products will be offered by paid subscription to fit the needs of small to large businesses.

SUB: What are your goals for Trulioo over the next year or so?

Ufford: Trulioo’s focus this year is to establish social and other types of Internet data as a reliable and viable source of identity information that can be incorporated into existing risk management processes. This will be accomplished through a number of planned high-profile pilot projects with both government and the commercial sectors.

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