Zertificon – Securing Your Email Both Within and Beyond Your Organization
“The entire world is my target market” – that is essentially what Dr. Burkhard Wiegel, CEO of Zertificon is saying about his email encryption products. You can understand why he might say that – every company in the world, regardless of size or industry, uses email to communicate both internally and externally. This means that in today’s world, every company does need to have an email security/encryption infrastructure in place. Hence Dr. Wiegel’s claim.
Zertificon’s core product is a secure email gateway solution. Additional supporting products provide complementary solutions for secure transfer of large files, email encryption internally within an organization, and PKI (Public key infrastructure) certificate management.
Let us start with a little bit about you and your background.
My career has followed a pretty standard path. I studied Computer Science and obtained a Doctorate from the University of Berlin. I decided not to pursue an academic career because I wanted to get out into the business world.
Zertificon specializes in email encryption. Can you please describe for me the different products you offer in this area?
Our core product is our SecureMail email gateway solution. It is meant for organizations and companies – we do not focus on individual users. Over the years, we have added additional supporting products including:
- SecureHub – Web-based secure transfer of large files (on premises, not cloud).
- SecureMail End2End – Email encryption for secure email within a single organization.
- CertServer – PKI certificate management and validation.
How do you define your target market?
We find that two main drivers motivate our customers:
- Compliance Requirements, such as GDPR
Even though every business consultant will tell you NOT to define your market like this, we still define our target market as:
- Every company or organization in the world.
- Every size organization (since everybody uses email and we offer flexible licensing).
- Every industry and vertical.
How would you describe your current typical customer?
We currently have about 1,000 customers, located mainly in Central Europe – meaning Germany, UK, Spain, and France. We are now starting to make inroads into North America.
Our customers are either large international companies or medium-sized German companies. We are now getting a lot of interest from smaller companies, especially in the healthcare industry. Our customers are usually driven by particular use cases within specific departments in their organization. They do not necessarily implement our solutions across the entire company.
Who are some of your biggest customers?
Among our current customers, we have large German and international automotive manufacturers and their suppliers as well as large pharmaceutical companies, banks, insurances and global retailers some of them are household names. But the larger the customer brand, the more it is likely that we cannot advertise with their name.
Does the increasing adoption of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) make your products unnecessary?
Not at all. SSL only secures data that is in-transit. Once the data arrives at its next stop, it is stored in plain text. Since SSL only provides point-to-point data encryption, you must also be able to ensure that every server along the way is also properly encrypting the data.
I see that your products are delivered on pre-configured server appliances – why do not you offer software-only solutions? What if I have my infrastructure in a public cloud such as AWS (Amazon Web Services) or Microsoft Azure?
We deliver our software as pre-configured appliances. Deployment and maintenance for customers are straightforward and simple and appliances are easier to for us to support. We offer different sizes/configurations, either virtual for cloud or hardware, in order to meet the specific needs of our customers. The truth is that sales of our hardware appliances are decreasing. Most large organizations today have virtualization environments, so we just send them a machine image. This has all of the benefits of the hardware appliance, without the costs or hassles. For 2018 new solutions will be available in the usual cloud marketplaces.
What does your pricing model look like?
We license on a monthly subscription model, which includes all software updates. The pricing is per user and the actual amount depends on the total number of users. For a mid-size company with atypical function set, the cost would be about $2/month/user. For very large companies, the cost could be as low as $0.50/user/month.
Whom do you see as your main competitors?
That is a somewhat difficult question to answer. There are some other small companies in this space, but they are not real competition.
Our biggest competition is companies just continuing to do nothing because they have other priorities. That changes once they suffer a security breach and compliance regulations evolve.
How do you see your tools as different and/or better?
Our products are unusual in that none of the global player companies have comparable offerings in this area. This market is evolving and is still essentially a niche market.
The other way in which we stand out is our technical leadership and the level of great customer support that we provide.
What are some of your future plans for Zertificon?
Right now, 60% of our revenues come from collaborating with big system integrators and solution providers. The other 40% of our revenues come from customers contacting us directly – either after visiting our website or after someone they trust recommended us to them.
Our growth strategy is rather simple and consists of the following elements:
- Internationalization (growing overseas).
- Grow organically and/or with partners.
- We do not want to take on outside investors.
- We currently do marketing, so leads come in.
- We keep our customers happy, which leads to plenty of recommendations.
How many employees do you have today? Where are they located?
We have about 65 employees, all located in Berlin.
How many hours a day do you normally work? What do you like to do when you are not working?
It is almost embarrassing to say this these days, but I normally work on average 7-8 hours a day.
When I am not working, I love to drive motorbikes and drive on racetracks – even though I am 55 years old! I also enjoy online gaming, sports, and traveling.