Interview with Sriram Shankarlingam | Co-Founder and CEO at HexaEight

Sriram Shankarlingam with Latha Krishnamani

At BrilliantRead Media, we always strive to bring to our community some of the finest stories from the entrepreneurship world. As part of this endeavour, we invited a passionate entrepreneur – Sriram Shankarlingam for an exclusive interview with us. Sriram is an Entrepreneur, Leader, IT Consultant, QR Expert, and Mentor. He is the Co-Founder and CEO at HexaEight. Let’s learn more about his inspiring journey, his background and his advice for our growing community!

Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Sriram:

Talk us through your background and your journey as an entrepreneur, please;

I did my schooling from Sardar Patel School and my colleagues from K.L.E Bangalore but I had to drop out of my college at the early age of 20 due to the demise of my father since I had to start working to take care of my mother. I finally graduated with a Bachelor of Computer Applications from Bangalore Open University.

Computers always fascinated me at an early age, since I had the opportunity to explore computers during my 9th and 10th grade at school where I managed to score the highest grade. The chemistry school teacher who also doubled up as a computer teacher provided feedback to my father during my PTA meetings that while I was an average student in most subjects, I would outshine if my energy was channelled toward computers.

Based on the feedback from the school teacher, my father used most of his savings to get me into NIIT which was a prestigious academy to learn computers. I learnt all the basics and advanced topics of computers and came out with flying colours in my scores.  To add to my skills I took up Microsoft Certification Exams and became a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

I initially joined my father’s office, who was a central government employee, where I was given a clerical job on compassionate grounds. However, I knew that was not my future and had to quit my government job to continue my passion for working with computers.”

I initially worked as a Machine Room Coordinator in NIIT for about 3 years after which I got a job in a Multinational company called SRR Solutions ( which was called Cortera and taken over by Moody’s Inc recently) where I played various roles for 12+ years. My next stint was at Microland Limited where my journey lasted for ~8 years.

My work experience in IT gave me enough strength and passion to explore deeper technologies in computers. I was initially fascinated by compression technologies and tried to devise my own algorithm that could compress random data, in which I failed miserably. I started feeling the urge after 2017 that there was something else that I was missing and I had to explore more in order to find it.

At the same time, my partner had a vision that she wanted me to develop a technology that would use only QR Codes for authenticating users, instead of usernames and passwords. I told her to start our first venture, HexaEight, and promised her that I would join her venture soon since I was still in my IT job. So I quit my plush IT job with the intention to explore more on authentication technologies.”

I initially spent a couple of years after I quit my job exploring a way to authenticate users without having to store user names or passwords in a backend database using authenticated encryption technology.

While I was able to come up with a solution, the pandemic struck and initially immobilized our plans. I finally came up with a solution and filed a patent for the same and then joined HexaEight as a cofounder, to build a universal authentication platform.”

Our Serverless authentication technology at HexaEight uses QR Codes to authenticate users in any application by using their mobile phones to type their usernames and passwords just once using a digital token in multiple applications giving the freedom to end-users of not having to remember numerous passwords to login to different applications.

What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?

I would still say everyone needs to explore a corporate career in the initial phases to gain more insights into that space, but if you inner self says there is more to explore as an entrepreneur, then you should satisfy that inner self, because at the end of the day, if you have not satisfied yourself with the work or the job you do, then you can’t have a peaceful sleep at night.

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted, especially if you are bootstrapped startup, since the initial challenges that come with it is like a path full of thorns and you need to manoeuvre carefully.

In my case, it was more of an inner drive in me along with a vision from my spouse which led me to the entrepreneurship path since I also wanted to make an impact on the World to prove India has the capability to produce innovative solutions in the Information Technology space that is not available in other countries.”

The satisfaction you achieve when you build something from scratch is immense and I would advise many, that if they have the inner desire to achieve more, they should explore the path of entrepreneurship.

‘HexaEight’ is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving?

HexaEight actually stands for the angel number 168, (Hexa stands for 16 in the numbering system and the number Eight) which means the company will become a legend one day and rise above every company in the world which are the characteristics of the angel number 168.   The other reason we chose this name was that 168 also included the birth numbers of my family, while I am a number 1 born, my spouse is a number 8 and my daughter is a number 6 born.

As I said, HexaEight provides a universal authentication platform to cater to all kinds of authentication (application, systems, physical, virtual etc) without the need to store usernames or passwords in our System to complete the authentication process.”

Authentication is required at every entry point in applications, systems and hardware devices However authentication developed for software products and applications cannot be used in systems because they follow a different protocol, framework or architecture.

Similarly, authentication developed for systems cannot be used in hardware devices for example a robot trying to authenticate itself at a door. HexaEight provides an alternate authentication technology that uses authenticated encryption to provide Authenticity, Confidentiality as well as nonrepudiation at the time of authentication as well as during communication between a sender and receiver.

HexaEight authentication technology will become the future when you need to perform physical authentication for example a bank employee trying to physically authenticate an email address, or a virtual user trying to authenticate another virtual user in metaverse virtual worlds.

During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?

Since the business was born just before Covid-19 struck, it affected all our plans for expansion, and we had to live with using the freelancer model where we would hire and outsource freelancers to do most of our work remotely.  Even today we continue with the freelancer model of outsourcing our work since we fear the next wave might disrupt our business.

Because HexaEight is a bootstrapped company, we had to shelve our expansion plans due to the pandemic and live with the freelancer model in order to survive. Since our business is completely online, we feel lucky that we have been able to survive the pandemic with little impact on our operations.

How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?

Every human being has a talent that needs to be unearthed. In many cases, a mentor identifies this talent and promotes the individual.

In my case, my father has been my mentor who unearthed my potential in computers. The inner belief in me that I have the capability to achieve more, keeps me going and my vision is to ensure HexaEight becomes a world-leading company from India that provides an innovative technology which is not provided by any other company in the world.

Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?

The biggest source of motivation has been my family.

When I look at the past, at times I feel I had no purpose in life, but after marriage, everything changed for the better, I feel I have a purpose in life to take care of my family and be independent.

My biggest source of motivation is my spouse who feels I have the capability to achieve anything I want,  provided I put in the hard work. The other source of motivation is my own self-belief that keeps me going every day.

What are the business mantras you have embraced as you sought to establish your success story?

If you have the traits to become a jack of all trades, go for it, since in today’s world, knowing everything counts, and you can become a master of each trade slowly as per your capability. This will definitely help as you grow your business.

Self-learning is the best approach even though you may fail several times, but the learning experience fine-tunes your knowledge about the subject.

What are the three most important lessons you have learned while building your startup?

(a) Don’t rely on anyone to help you in your startup, you need to have the inner strength that you have the capability to handle everything and keep going until you reach your goal.

(b) Be patient till you reach your goal, and don’t try to cut corners during the initial stages of your startup since it might cost you at a later stage

(c) At the end of the day evaluate the job you have done for your startup, if you think you are not satisfied, do it again to make it perfect. If you are not happy with your product, no one else will be happy.

What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?

One of the quotes which I like most is –

“Don’t worry about failure, Worry about the change you miss when you don’t even try.”

The journey of life is like a maze, you keep getting hit by many roadblocks all the time, but my strategy has been to grab every opportunity that presents itself which might unlock the journey into the future.

This is not possible if you give up when you hit the roadblock in the maze, you have to learn from that experience and move on to the next opportunity that presents itself. This is the only way you can shape up as a better person and cherish the whole journey of your life.

Given the rapid pace at which the world is changing, what are the leadership traits that are necessary for success?

The ability to drive the business towards its vision along with effective communication are the most important qualities it takes for entrepreneurs to maximize their chance of success.

Please share with us, any other experiences you wish to share?

At HexaEight, we believe in resolving end-user problems, as such we are looking to provide solutions to businesses that can solve problems for end-users. Companies that trust our platform gain tremendously by way of cost savings, as well as faster delivery of their products to end-users and I, hope HexaEight will inspire many companies from India to go global and provide their services to the rest of the world.

In your opinion, what are the keys to success?

There are many key factors to success, but the ones that stand out to me are:

(1) Hard Work, Hard Work and Hardwork – Don’t give up if you believe you can succeed.

(2) The ability to believe in yourself.  If you do not have faith in yourself, nobody else will have faith in you.

What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?

My advice to young working professionals in the early phase of their career is not to fall prey to the below:

> Don’t chase big money early in your career, don’t switch companies just because someone else is giving you a 5K rise, think about the other benefits that you enjoy in your current company.  Starting again from scratch in a new company after laying a foundation is not an easy task if you keep switching companies, you may just be job-hopping even during later stages of your life.

> Don’t be jealous and compare yourself with your peers and treat your peers with respect, they have been hired for a reason like you, allow them to perform their function.

> Work hard for the company that hired you without expecting any rewards. This will go a long way in establishing a successful career,  most companies will take care of you if you are a long-standing employee.

> Be open with your disagreements with your peers and superiors in an easy way such as not to provoke them, they will definitely understand if you are right.

> Lastly, the basics, be punctual and keep up on your delivery promises

If you believe you have an idea and want to become an entrepreneur, go for it even if no one believes in you; DON’T wait for the right time because the right time is now to establish a successful independent career.

My advice to young entrepreneurs at an early phase of their career is to follow the below:

> Validate your idea, since you have limited work experience to decide for yourself if your idea will be a success.

> Learn everything and try to build the product yourself, since you have the skill and the capability to match the product outcome with your vision

> File a patent even if you don’t wish to pursue it, so that others may not claim that it is their idea at a later date.

> Come out with an innovative way to market your product without having to spend too much money.

> Build a working product before you reach out to an investor for funding.

For me personally, If you wish to become an entrepreneur, follow your passion by launching your startup in your own country, since you will get all the support you need from your fellow countrymen rather than trying to establish your startup in a foreign country.


Please don’t forget to read – Interview with Sukhchain Singh | Leader | Entrepreneur | Founder at Zebrians

BrilliantRead is committed to bringing stories from the startup ecosystem, stories that reshape our perspective, add value to our community and be a constant source of motivation not just for our community but also for the whole ecosystem of entrepreneurs and aspiring individuals.
Note: If you have a similar story to share with our audience and would like to be featured on our online magazine, then please write to us at [email protected], we will review your story and extend an invitation to feature if it is worth publishing.
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