Rob Leslie: Restoring trust in a digital era

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A qualified engineer and founder of Sedicii Innovations– an organization that helps two engaging parties verify identity data without exposing the underlying data using a novel cryptographic protocol known as zero-knowledge proof– Rob Leslie definitely deserves to be among the Aspioneer’s ‘CEOs to watch in 2019’. 

About eight years ago, Leslie was taken aback when his credentials were hacked while buying a new camera online. His belief that his information was secure and private was instantly shattered. Talking to more people who had faced a similar crisis led him to the decision to look for real solutions. It was then he came across a technology that was being developed by NUI Galway (National University of Ireland). Leslie dedicated several years delving into every aspect of this product studying its capabilities. And finally, in 2013, he laid the foundation of Sedicii at Waterford in the southeast of Ireland.  

At Sedicii, they aim to make the world a more trusted place where everyone can transact online without worrying about falling victim to fraud or identity theft. Leslie emphasizes, “Since the introduction of the ‘EU GDPR’ regulations in May 2018, the increasing need to protect and verify at the same time resulted in Sedicii developing a groundbreaking solution. I wouldn’t describe my belief in privacy as paranoia but rather a healthy belief of having the right to ensure that my personal information remains private.” Sedicii has employees in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. It holds patents for various home-brewed technologies based on advanced cryptography such as Zero-Knowledge Proof (ZKP) and Secure Multiparty Computation (SMPC) protocols. ZKP and SMPC include solutions for anti-money laundering and remote KYC biometric onboarding. They have developed real-time digital identity verification capability that is privacy-preserving. Leslie adds while shedding some more light on the process, “The identity attributes that an organization holds are transformed using our patented Sedicii process, which makes the information unusable to anyone other than another Sedicii process or server. The Sedicii product is a unique service that allows a person to authenticate themselves to any entity in a privacy-preserving manner while being GDPR compliant.”

“I believe, the beauty of the Sedicii product is that it will help people in every aspect of their lives where they need to prove they are who they say they are.”

The road to bizboard

Before starting the company, when Leslie shared this business idea with anyone, it was met with nothing but disbelief. No one could wrap their heads around the idea of being able to verify their identity without sharing any related information. He exclaims, “Yes, our technology requires a seismic change in how we think about technology. However, if we think back to 20 years ago and what technology could do, this is the next level.” 

Sedicii believes that the service and technology it provides will enhance, protect and enrich the lives of people. They want to ensure every customer’s right to privacy, protecting them against cyber fraud and impersonation. What Sedicii is doing is, in fact, huge: the creation of a new privacy network- a new type of social network that allows people to take control of their personal information without putting all that information into a single place. Although, getting a handle on the magnitude of this innovation was no small feat. This requires a lot of funding and vision to make it a reality. Finding the right team, investors and supporters to make it a reality is equally tough. Leslie shares, “In the early days the constant running of the business with no support mechanism and the subsequent time it took to find investors, like-minded developers and the endless travel was challenging. After three years of working on the product, I employed a CTO and quickly followed this up with software developers and an office manager. This gave me the freedom to progress the company at a customer/investor level.” 

Leslie gives most of the credit for his attainment to his people. He mentions, “Sedicii is small right now; 15 people spread over four countries. We have the weekly management team meetings and full team debriefs. Everyone is encouraged to participate and share their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and aspirations. I believe that you need to bring everyone along the journey with you and build a good base. Make everyone feel they are valued so they play pivotal roles in the development of the company.”

Rob Leslie, Founder & CEO, Sedicii

When he is not shaping our collective future, Rob loves taking long strolls on the beautiful coastline of Waterford city and county. He also likes to draw inspiration from books. His favorite is ‘Made in Japan’ by Akio Morita. “It’s a fairly old book about the story of how SONY came to be. It is a story about entrepreneurs who had a dream and turned it into a global behemoth. It is a model for entrepreneurs everywhere,” shares Leslie. If given an opportunity he suggests sharing a dinner table with Barack Obama would be a wonderful idea. “‘Change we can believe in’  ‘Yes we can’ resonates with me,” says Leslie. “Sitting down to dinner with the 44th President of the United States whose ideals and beliefs, not least of all in human-kind, would be up there at the top of my wish list.” When he is stuck in a constructive process, his first thought is to eradicate those challenges with the appropriate solution. He says, “It may take me some time to find the solution, but we always get there in the end!!” 

Indeed. Leslie’s invincible attitude will take him way ahead in the game and maybe drive the next wave of technological innovation. Looking into the future, he tells, “I couldn’t single out one particular project – in their own way, each one is exciting. Sedicii is actively engaged with like-minded financial, governmental, anti-fraud, law enforcement, health care, and other agencies in Europe, Asia, the United States, and South America.”

“I believe, the beauty of the Sedicii product is that it will help people in every aspect of their lives where when they need to prove they are who they say they are.” 

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Business leaders to watch in 2019

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