Most agree that, in business, timing is important. According to Toronto-based technology and media venture capitalist, G. Scott Paterson, timing is more than important. It’s critical.
Paterson, the founder, chairman and CEO of FutureVault, recently spoke with Benzinga about his latest venture and the role of timing in entrepreneurial endeavors.
Benzinga: What is FutureVault?
Scott Paterson: FutureVault represents a brand new category in financial services. I’m not sure what this new category will ultimately be called. There are a couple of ways to think about it. It’s a digital filing cabinet. It’s a digital safety deposit box. A little more sophisticated term would be a digital collaborative vault, which is what we call it. However you define it, it’s a brand new business category.
The storage category was started by Dropbox, a brilliant invention but one that is kind of like a big empty warehouse. The next wave will be digital filing cabinets with tremendous structure. That’s our business thesis.
What kinds of things will be in that structure?
We all have, without even knowing it, a series of individual point solutions that service us. Things like the DMV for your driver’s license, your country club membership, bank login and brokerage firm login. I don’t want to go to everybody’s point solution. I want it all in one spot.
Think of the competitive advantage of being the one who gathers all of that stuff in one spot for consumers. Our view is that this new category, which is in its infancy, represents an arms race that has just begun.
How did the idea for FutureVault originate?
Like many ideas it was born from personal experience. A couple of years ago I had warrants in a company and my office inadvertently put down the wrong expiration date for the warrants. As a result, I didn’t exercise the warrants and lost a lot of money.
I’m kind of a serial technology entrepreneur. At least I like to think I am. I’ve been involved in a number of successful plays including a very successful FinTech play called Symbility Solutions which is cloud-based, fast and has a lot of workflow associated with it. I thought, “This is the future.”
I will go so far as saying that within five years, every single financial services organization in the world will deliver their documents to their clients by way of a FutureVault-type solution.
Obviously security is important. How is that handled?
FutureVault security is bank grade. Our Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Kevin Whyte, is the former CIO of TD Waterhouse. We would argue he is the peer of any banking technology executive in the world.
First of all, there’s double authentication, which you can waive if you like. What we mean by double authentication is that you go to log in and it sends a pin to your cellphone. We will get into biometrics in due course, either your eyes or thumb print.
Everything’s encrypted with two layers of encryption. There’s the encryption of the user and then there’s the encryption of the actual document. No one at FutureVault, including myself has any idea what’s in your vault.
Also, and this is important, nothing is ever resident on your hard drive. You never download anything unless you want to.
Can you talk about the development process; specifically, what kinds of issues came up?
Sure. One of the things we wrestled with is the notion of what it is people think about when they think about their financial and record-keeping lives. We decided, after a lot of research that there are 25 categories.
Now, you can create your own categories but we have decided that from a structural perspective there are 25, each of which has sub-categories. The sub-categories total 170 with over 1,150 suggested documents for each. The suggested documents for each sub-category are different.
This sounds like a fairly robust product.
This is not a minimally viable product. I encouraged scope-creep so it got bigger and bigger and bigger. The reason for that is I didn’t want to show up in meetings with big banks and institutions and have them say, “Great idea but we can build that ourselves.”
This is 15 people for a year-and-a-half. Millions of lines of code. This is robust. We want them to partner with us instead.
The ultimate challenge was, “Is this the right direction?” When you build something this robust, you want to make sure it’s right. This way we can tailor the product to the needs of the customer. Not everyone will want to include everything.
You have been involved in Symbility Solutions, Lionsgate Entertainment Corporation, Engagement Labs and now FutureVault to name just a few. Is there a common thread there?
Yes. I love trying to predict the future. I think that’s the common thread. For example, my wife and I recently attended a board dinner during International Film Festival week about the time of the premiere of Deepwater Horizon, which was produced by Lionsgate. I had a brief chat with Mark Wahlberg, the star of the movie. It’s a very powerful film. I cried. My wife cried.
The reason I bring that up is because I was a strong proponent of the notion that content was going to be king. That wasn’t always the case. Years ago it was all about the “pipe.”
Is there anything besides foresight that’s important in your estimation?
Yes. Timing. There have been three times in my life when I thought I got it right and was going to have the tiger by the tail.
The first was the brokerage firm, Yorkton Securities. The second was JumpTV, now NeuLion, which delivers video to connected devices. The technology was right but our timing was too early. It has become a profitable company so everything we said was true. Just too early.
The third time was this one, FutureVault. I’ve said our timing is impeccable. You can have the greatest idea and accurately predict the future. If you’re too early though, it’ll blow your brains out. Of course if you’re too late, forget it. You’ll never ever catch up. This time my gut tells me our timing is right on the money.
This article is exclusive to Nasdaq.com.