Recently, we interacted with Mr. Vishal Prakash Shah, Founder and CEO, Synersoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd – the maker of path-breaking and disruptive technology for SMEs, now branded as BLACKbox, that was incubated and invested portfolio company of CIIE – IIM-Ahmedabad (Center for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship at Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad).
Here are the interview highlights:
1. Could you give a brief description of Synersoft, including its main goals and the main services and products it provides—especially BLACKbox, the company’s flagship product?
Our goal at Synersoft is clear: we aim to assist MSMEs in managing their cybersecurity and IT standardization needs. We recognized a significant gap in the market around 16 years ago when we realized that Indian MSMEs would be compelled to embrace digitalization to remain competitive. As they increasingly relied on digital assets, the need to protect their data from loss and theft became paramount. However, most existing cybersecurity solutions were tailored for large enterprises with the resources to maintain qualified IT teams. This posed a challenge for MSMEs, as they couldn’t attract or afford such teams.
To address this gap, we set out to create a product that could simplify cybersecurity and data protection for MSMEs without the need for multiple solutions and a specialized IT team. BLACKbox, our flagship product, is the result of this effort. It’s a single hardware and software solution that serves multiple roles in cybersecurity and data protection
BLACKbox functions as a File Server, Firewall, Storage Device, Domain Controller, End-Point Controller, Mail Vigilance/Distribution System, VPN Server, and Productivity Monitoring solution—all in one. What’s more, it comes at a fraction of the cost compared to procuring, integrating, and implementing multiple separate solutions.
2. Can you discuss the significance of this geographical expansion and how it supports your mission amongst SME industrial hubs across India?
The geographical expansion is of paramount importance when it comes to serving SMEs. To appreciate its significance, we need to consider the latest technology trends.
For companies providing cloud-based solutions, the physical location of the customer doesn’t matter. They can serve clients from virtually anywhere, making last-mile presence unnecessary.
However, the situation is distinct for the multitude of MSMEs. These businesses often operate in remote industrial areas where reliable Internet connectivity is a constant challenge. While consumer Internet access has become widespread and affordable in India, the same cannot be said for enterprise-grade Internet. The cost of business Internet connectivity is high on a per MBPS basis, and reliable connectivity is a rare commodity in these remote regions. This means that cloud-hosted solutions, which depend on uninterrupted Internet access, are simply not practical for many MSMEs.
Another factor necessitating local deployment is the technical design software used by these MSMEs, such as Autodesk, Solidworks, and 3D modeling tools. These applications generate large files and are not well-suited for use in the cloud.
As a result, the numerous SMEs in India require on-premises solutions. Our product, BLACKbox, is designed for on-premises deployment, which is why our geographical expansion is essential. We need to be present on the last mile to ensure we can serve these MSMEs wherever they are, addressing their specific needs effectively.
3. How does your Research and Development Center contribute to the ongoing improvement of BLACKbox and other solutions?
Our Research and Development Center has undergone an evolution in response to the unique challenges we faced. When we initiated our journey, we were targeting a customer base with minimal awareness of cybersecurity and data protection. It presented a significant challenge for our Research and Development team as we were essentially developing a product for a segment that didn’t fully know its own needs. This early stage involved numerous trial-and-error phases.
Over time, our product gained traction and found acceptance among thousands of MSME customers. These customers now play a pivotal role in shaping the direction of our research and development efforts. They candidly share the new challenges they encounter and expect us to provide solutions. Their feedback serves as valuable input for our continuous efforts to enhance the product’s value.
This collaborative process has led to the development of three significant solutions. First, BLACKbox Duo, a BYOD space solution, which is particularly in demand among MSMEs. It allows them to grant remote users the ability to work on enterprise data using their personal devices while maintaining robust data security. Our hybrid Email System Solution is another result of this collaboration, saving customers up to 70% on email subscription costs. We created this solution based on feedback from our customers who were frustrated with paying for features they didn’t need in other email systems. Finally, our automatic data isolation solution, known as Happy Hours or Magic Browser, was born from insights provided by our customers who sought a balance between using the Internet as a resource and controlling it to prevent data leakage.
As we continue to listen to our customers and engage in this ongoing dialogue, we remain committed to further enhancing the value of our products.
4. How does Synersoft support its employees in cultivating entrepreneurial instincts within the company?
At Synersoft, we foster a culture that encourages employees to cultivate their entrepreneurial instincts within the company. We have achieved a state of fully process-driven operations, which provides a structured framework for our teams and individual team members.
Our approach involves setting clear Key Result Areas (KRAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each employee. It ensures that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities within the organization. Moreover, our remuneration structure includes a significant variable payment component that is tied to the achievement of well-defined objectives. These objectives encompass skills acquisition, bottom-line contribution, effectiveness of execution, and a commitment to process excellence.
By linking compensation to these specific goals, we create a financial incentive for our employees to excel in their areas of responsibility. This approach not only rewards high performance but also opens up opportunities for individuals to earn more by aligning their efforts with the company’s strategic objectives. In doing so, we aim to ignite and nurture entrepreneurial instincts within our organization, empowering our employees to contribute to the company’s success while also pursuing their own professional growth.
5. What are Synersoft’s future goals and vision? How do you plan to continue contributing to the field of Data Protection and Information Security?
Our future goals and vision are deeply rooted in our commitment to serving the MSME segment. We envision further enriching BLACKbox to evolve into a comprehensive solution that caters to all the unique requirements of MSMEs. Our ongoing investments are dedicated to the development of cutting-edge technologies, including Application Virtualization, Application Hosting Infrastructure, and Productivity Insights, specifically designed to empower MSMEs.
In our journey ahead, we are steadfast in our commitment to a zero-trust approach. This fundamental philosophy underpins our design thinking when it comes to Data Protection and Information Security offerings. We will continue to prioritize security and data protection as we progress into the future, ensuring that our solutions remain at the forefront of safeguarding the interests of MSMEs in an ever-evolving digital landscape.