2020 Summer Catalyst Startup Profile: Exidio
Dan Edlebeck MBA’20 is the CEO and founder of Exidio, a software solutions company that provides front end applications necessary to connect with a distributed, decentralized virtual private network (VPN). In 2017, Dan’s passion for emerging technologies, data privacy, and security inspired him to connect with Sentinel, an open source decentralized VPN. After finishing his MBA at Babson, Dan entered Summer Catalyst and has been actively working to integrate his own software company, Exidio, with Sentinel.
Unlike a traditional centralized VPN, the Sentinel VPN architecture includes individuals from all around the world who share their bandwidth from their own internet service providers to a network in a peer-to-peer fashion. Dan’s startup Exidio helps both individuals and businesses integrate with Sentinel and reap the benefits of a secure, user friendly, and distributed VPN. Furthermore, Exidio does not have access to user information. It is building a multi-hop architecture so that users can route their internet traffic through multiple individual nodes within the network. The data is encrypted and decrypted at each hop. In addition, all of Exidio’s software is open source and it leverages open source VPN protocols to increase transparency.
Exidio’s first product, the Sentinel dVPN application, is available on Google Play, Mac, PC, and Linux: “We have seen significant traction with our first application: over 50,000 downloads on Google Play Store, over 75,000 users across the platforms, and around 2,000 to 3,000 users at any given time. Now more than ever, consumers are recognizing that there are ways to protect their data, but our centralized players are not ones we can rely on.” As the demand for distributed networks, data privacy, and security soars, Dan has been exploring use cases that would enable Exidio to interact with enterprise customers, while also building tailored solutions for different demographics. The transition to remote environments due to COVID-19 has further accelerated the demand for online privacy.
During Summer Catalyst, Dan has found the support from his peers, mentors, and advisors extremely helpful. For example, his advisor, Matt Caulfield, has helped them to position the company and search for investment, fundraising, and donation opportunities. As a recent Hot Seat participant, Dan received extensive feedback from the cohort and looks forward to building a revised deck and pitching investors. His ultimate milestone is to officially incorporate Exidio. Although the process is a bit more complex than initially expected, the team has gained insights from legal office hours in Summer Catalyst and is working with its own legal team to finalize the incorporation process. The Lunch & Learn sessions have taught Dan how to pivot, overcome obstacles, leverage community networks, and operate more efficiently.
According to Dan, the most rewarding part about being an entrepreneur involves building a product that will help others have greater online privacy: “It’s something that everyone on the team is so passionate about. And we are seeing the fruits of our labor manifest into actual products that will increase security and have a positive impact. Seeing your efforts come to fruition – that is the most rewarding part.” Dan would also like to share five pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: One: be patient, the entrepreneurial journey is a long process and patience is essential. Two: make an effort to connect with as many people as you can and be open to different perspectives. Three: don’t be afraid to share your idea with others and get advice. Allow others to inspire you, give you feedback, and help you move forward. Being curious and seeking advice can increase your chances of success. Four: listen to podcasts and speak with other entrepreneurs to hear their stories and learn from their experiences. Five: go kayaking! Making time for self care, meditation, or exercise, can help boost your productivity; so take breaks to engage in activities that bring you joy and allow you to rest and reset.