When 25-year-old Toshendra Sharma realised that he was one of the rare species who loved what they taught at college, he decided to make a business out of it. An MTech student at IIT Bombay, Toshendra started Wegilant Net Solutions in 2011 from Mumbai.
Wegilant (combination of web and vigilant), offers security audit services for websites, networks, wireless networks, mobile devices and applications, and compliance of IT regulations. As part of his final year project at IIT-B, he is developing a web security tool that he claims will be unique in the market. “The tools that are available in the market today can only assess vulnerability. My tool will automatically patch applications, especially PHP,” says Toshendra. It is this tool that Toshendra is planning to launch as the signature product of Wegilant in July this year. The decision between making it available on open-source platforms or monetizing it is yet to be taken.
The convergence of personal interest, academics and business is at the core of this startup’s journey. Toshendra has made office his home, literally. “I come from a very humble background and I want to be the Anonymous of security. I work for 15-16 hours, sleep in the office, wake up here and work again. That is all I have done in the last two years,” shares Toshendra.
Born and brought up in Nainital, Toshendra did his BTech from GB Pant University, Uttaranchal and then worked for a year with his brother’s robotics training company in Noida. When he joined IIT-B for MTech, he decided to start his own business. The good part about his venture was that it required minimum capital. “I started with training which required five-six computers and that’s about it. So, we survived, made some money and put it back into the business,” says Toshendra.
The major part of Wegilant’s business has so far come from training. It provides training to corporates, engineering students and school students. The startup provides workshops and training sessions on ethical hacking, cyber forensics, bluetooth hacking, Android application development, robotics and Java. It offers summer training programmes at various centers across the country. In fact, Sharma is a training buff who personally trains each of his new staff. “Website security is my passion and I believe knowledge is the key. I want my staff to be able to handle all the aspects of this business,” says Toshendra.
Wegilant is recognized by Tata First Dot powered by Nen, whose mentors have been guiding the startup. The startup has seen turnover in eight digits in the last two years and has been approached by some angel funds, says Toshendra. A risk-taker, Toshendra has bet big on marketing his company right from the beginning. He was the title sponsor for IIT-B Techfest this year, which was a substantial investment. “It was a big amount for us but has paid off. We have made more money than we spent as people noticed us at the event and approached us. We then sponsored IIT-B’s entrepreneurship summit also, which gave us more visibility,” he says.
India’s information security market is expected to grow by 18% to Rs 1,415 crore in 2013, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ ‘The State of Information Security Survey -India, 2013’, on the back of increased spending by companies to secure their information assets. It is this market that Wegilant is hoping to tap. “Of the services in our portfolio, website auditing is the most in demand. As more and more companies register their websites, securing them will become a challenge. That is where we want to come in,” says Toshendra.
He has a two-point strategy to feed this demand – lower pricing and greater emphasis on imparting knowledge. “There are very few players in this industry at present. Those present are very expensive and cover only the big fish. The market actually comprises hundreds of smaller players who need cheaper solutions for their security needs,” says Toshendra. By charging a fraction of the market rates and empowering their clients, Wegilant wants to make a difference to SMBs.
At 25, Toshendra has many plans for the future. He holds 89% stake in Wegilant and has 16 people working for him. He is looking for investment from serious investors who can help take the startup from being a startup to a mainstream player. Toshendra has chalked out plans for the coming year. “Once my course at IIT-B is over in July, I will concentrate on expanding the business. I want to explore the Noida and Mumbai market in the domains of banking, education, government and regulators,” he says. By 2020, Toshendra wants Wegilant to be empanelled with CERT (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team), which has just twenty two organisations in its list as of now.
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