New York’s Enterproid and the Great Divide, Where Rivers (of Data) Change Direction
When Andrew Toy, Alexander Trewby, and David Zhu worked together at Morgan Stanley in 2007, they collectively managed the BlackBerry Enterprise Server for the global financial services company and its 60,000 employees. At that time, Morgan Stanley’s implementation of the corporate platform for e-mail messaging, calendaring, and collaborating was considered to be the largest in the world.
As a result, Toy, Trewby, and Zhu had a good sense of the strict data security requirements and stringent banking and securities compliance policies that governed mobile services for major business operations.
But they also saw the proliferation of mobile apps for the iPhone and the coming wave of broad-based, consumer app development that Android’s open mobile platform now makes possible. And they could see that such consumer apps on an open mobile device were fundamentally incompatible with the enterprise mobile paradigm that the BlackBerry exemplifies.
Instead of putting business users in the position of using two mobile devices—one smart phone for business and another for pleasure—the trio developed technology that enables users to combine a mobile consumer system and a secure enterprise system on the same Android-based mobile device. Called “Divide,” the technology is the core offering from Enterproid, a New York-based startup that Toy, Trewby, and Zhu founded in 2010. It is listed as a portfolio company of High Peaks Venture Partners, based in Troy, NY.
Enterproid launched a private beta version of its Divide platform on Feb. 28, the same day that Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), the San Diego wireless giant, named the startup as the grand prize winner of its 2011 QPrize.
“It was a fairly unanimous choice,” Qualcomm Ventures’ Nagraj Kashyap told me last month. The startup won $100,000 in convertible note financing (a Qualcomm loan that converts to stock when Enterproid raises its first equity round) by winning the top prize in North America, and another $150,000 as the Grand Prize winner against other finalists from Israel, Europe, South Korea, India, and China.
“They had a lot of relevant experience by being at Morgan Stanley,” said Kashyap, who oversees the annual Qualcomm incentive prize technology development competition. “The clear thing that the judges picked out was that this was a problem that they identified with—a number of them identified it as a true problem—and [Enterproid] had a pretty solid solution to the problem.”
Users can download Divide onto any Android-based mobile phone. Once installed, the technology enables users to switch between two different interfaces.
One is a consumer interface that provides users the freedom and convenience of downloading their favorite apps, from Angry Birds to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube, and other media apps. As Trewby put it during Enterproid’s presentation at the Demo Spring Conference in Palm Desert, CA, “I can download whatever I want, share whatever I want, and browse whatever I want.”
The other screen looks and acts like a business class app, with enterprise-based e-mail, calendar, messenging, and task features. All the data is encrypted and stored in a separate database. Enterproid also has developed a software development kit that allows third-party developers to create secure apps, such as customer relationship management software, that can live on the professional side of Divide.
The IT administrators at the user’s company also can access a cloud-based dashboard to set the user’s security procedures and data protection policies. But the way the product is structured, IT can never see what the user is doing on the personal side of the phone.
Enterproid also has provided users with a memory erase functionality that enables them to remotely wipe all data from either the personal or the professional side, Kirkland said. But the user’s IT department can only wipe the professional side of the phone.
That’s a nice feature, especially if you don’t want to lose your family pictures and personal contacts.