Surfing Cloak Wins JumpStart 2016

06 Dec 2016 | 03.58 pm

Surfing Cloak Wins JumpStart 2016

Invizbox hides your online activity

06 Dec 2016 | 03.58 pm

Online privacy startup Invizbox took the top prize in JumpStart 2016, the winners of which were announced today. The annual startup competition is organised by LINC (Learning and Innovation Centre) at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB).

Invizbox will get a cash prize of €10,000, an office space at the LINC and mentoring supports. The other four companies shortlisted were PhysioLinked (which finished as runner-up), Chimnery Spirits, Kickabout and Sproose.

Skerries startup InvizBox developed a box that you plug into your router and then connect with any device using WiFi. The box routes your online traffic through Tor, a popular anonymising network. The business was founded by Chris Monks, Paul Canavan (pictured) and Elizabeth Canavan.

“You may have nothing to hide but we all put an envelope around a letter to protect it from prying eyes as it goes through the postal system,” says Monks.

Paul Canavan and Chris Monks are experienced software engineers and they worked together at Adaptive Mobile before striking out on their own. Their strategy has been to use crowdfunding to develop their products, prove they have some traction with consumers and then seek angel funding.

“Protecting your privacy online is challenging, even for the technically skilled,” said Paul. “We provide a solution that allows you to protect all of your digital devices by simply turning on and connecting to our device over WiFi.”

VPNs aren’t just for people paranoid that the NSA is delving into their web surfing habits. Masking your computer’s IP address is also handy if you wish to stream online content not available in your region.

The company raised €18,000 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo for its first product, InvizBox, which Canavan says has sold around 2,000 units at a price point of $39 (€43). Also on sale through its website is InvizBox Go, a battery-powered box for portable usage that starts from €92 plus VAT. The founders raised over €100,000 on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform for InvizBox Go.

“We have raised all of our initial capital, R&D money and tested the market through crowdfunding,” says Chris. “In our first year in business, despite working a full-time job for three-quarters of the year, we managed €140,000 in sales and pre-sales.” Enterprise Ireland also invested €50,000 in the startup through its Competitive Start Fund.

The judging panel for JumpStart 2016 included entrepreneur Bobby Kerr and Shane Doyle, VP for manufacturing in Ireland with Alexion Pharmaceuticals.

Speaking about the competition, Bobby Kerr said: “I am highly impressed with the level of professionalism, experience and enthusiasm that was evident at the JumpStart final. Some of these individuals are going to be people you will be reading about in the business pages of the press in a few years’ time.”

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Bobby Kerr (centre), with Vincent Riou (left), Paul and Elizabeth Canavan and Chris Monks (right) of Invizbox (Pic: Andres Poveda)

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