From Starbucks to startup, a swipe right on networking opportunities led two Kansas City, Kansas, men to an adventure in tech entrepreneurship — disrupting the secret management space with the inception of Chain of Trust Technologies, they said.
Chain of Trust Technologies
Elevator pitch: The evolution of IT infrastructure has had a dramatic impact on businesses by dramatically reducing security and increasing the operational complexity. We created the Iron Platform to solve these business challenges. Iron establishes trust between machines to break down the barriers of traditional networks allowing for unprecedented security, operational simplicity, and oversight.
Year founded: 2016
Funding raised to date: Privately held
Employee count: 5
“If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, get people who you can talk to that can give you good, solid advice because without that support group and that network — it just makes it so much harder,” Ben Hammes, Chain of Trust Technologies CEO, said of his unexpected partnership with Preston Koprivica, founder and CTO.
Over a cup of coffee, the two found they were a perfect entrepreneurial match, leading Koprivica — freshly off a six-year stint at Cerner — to make Hammes the CEO of his uploading startup, he recalled.
“I like meeting people, I enjoy speaking with people, but I don’t actively go out and seek it. So — from an entrepreneurship standpoint — that definitely puts me in a disadvantage,” Koprivica said of the way Hammes quickly emerged as the strength to his weakness and the perfect partner to help him build Chain of Trust Technologies.
Corporate shortfalls pushed Koprivica toward startup life, when he realized he could solve problems that had long plagued his former company — primarily simplifying the way passwords, email addresses, social media accounts, and other human data pieces are managed — he said.
“I mainly worked in distributed systems and their large-scale data processing systems and one of the things that kept popping up was these issues of scale and just how to manage the complexity around it — especially operations wise — it was a really thorny issue,” Koprivica said. “It kind of planted the seed. I was like, OK, there’s clearly something wrong here. I think we can all do better. I don’t know what it is yet, but I think we can get better.”
A move to Cerner’s security team revealed the company had an aging process for managing passwords, Koprivica explained of the job change that led to his light bulb moment.
“The fact that you spend engineering time rotating and managing passwords … it just didn’t make any sense to me,” Koprivica said. “So, I started immediately just thinking about that problem and that started everything.”
With the help of family and friends, Chain of Trust Technologies was born, he said.
More than industry disruption, Chain of Trust Technologies hopes to disrupt the tech hiring landscape in Kansas City — proving to young tech minds that the answer to a career isn’t always corporate, Koprivica said.
“If you want broader exposure to all aspects of an application, it’s definitely better [for job seekers] to go the startup route,” Koprivica said of the benefits seeking a job with a startup offers early career job seekers. “You will learn — the breadth of skills that you are going to have to master in order to manage the systems involved with a startup is way higher than anything you might do with a corporation.”
In addition to traditional hiring, the company has found value in taking on college interns with the idea of exposing them to startup culture and opportunities within the space — a form of intentional ecosystem building, the duo said.
Click here to learn about the Chain of Trust Technologies internship program.
“We’re not sold on hiring people out of corporations,” Hammes added. “We’re more interested in [a candidate’s] aptitude to learn and experience new things, because even well-established software engineers — at this point — they don’t necessarily have the skills that we need, they’re still going to have to learn [how to do what we need them to do].”
Crucial to the company’s success are employees skilled in the niche tech necessary to further build out the company’s product cache, which will soon include Tether — an infrastructure management tool set to launch in the coming months — Hammes explained.
“Over the last few months, we’ve been fully fleshing out the feature set for the product,” Hammes said. “[With Tether] we’re able to coordinate changes across infrastructure, regardless of geography, network — anything completely secure — to manage things like credentials, SSL certificates, API keys, configuration, and make sure that everything’s on the same page.”
With the product’s launch, secret management will — for the first time — become simplified for Chain of Trust Technologies clients, he added.