Growing in security and branding applications
Jeff LeRose has been an entrepreneur all his life, involved with over a dozen start-up ventures. After selling another business he owned to a publicly traded company, LeRose says he had the choice of either retiring or starting another business. It was the retirement option that lost out. Research Triangle Software started out as an idea in 2001 and was open by 2002.
The company offers secure and branded electronic commerce solutions for its clients, which range from small businesses to major hotel chains and corporations. As President, LeRose takes a “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” approach, and thus his company offers a range of products intended both to fit clients’ different needs and to weather the changing nature of technology demands.
“If you put all your resources into one idea, product, and software, many times those companies fail because if something goes wrong with that particular product, or it is not accepted, or technology changes, then you’re left without a backup plan,” explains LeRose.
“My approach has been, with this company and the previous companies that I’ve done, to have multiple series of products. I like to have synergy between the products, but I like to be able to have a set of products that could be marketed together or individually.”
One of Research Triangle Software’s most popular offerings is LetterMark™, a subscription- based software product which brands emails for a client’s employees. Key features of the software include customized templates, dynamic republishing, downloadable contact information, tracking, reporting and encryption capabilities to secure attachments that are sent through email.
“You can think of it more like signature files on steroids,” says LeRose. “It does a lot of things that normal signature files for Outlook and other e-mail clients do not do. One of the obvious things that it does is that when you use standard signature files, whether it be Outlook, or Gmail or some other product, and you’re having a conversation with someone and you’re replying back and forth, that particular signature that you’re using gets stacked, and before you know it, you have an email that is very, very heavy, maybe hundreds and hundreds of bites and primarily there might be a hundred words that you’re communicating, but you have ten different signatures going back and forth, stacking it up and making the e-mail very heavy and hard to read.”
LetterMark™ prevents this problem by allowing only the last signature for the last e-mail that one sends to appear, while removing all the prior ones.
Another valuable offering from Research Triangle Software is CryptoLock, a product which provides encryption for e-mail attachments. The CryptoLock product is available for any Windows-based PC, as well as USB devices, memory sticks and flash drives. LeRose explains that this security capability is becoming more and more important as different states such as Nevada and Massachusetts have a requirement for all e-mails that contain personal information to be encrypted. CryptoBuddy is a simpler encryption product that Research Triangle Software aims towards children, students and teachers, and comes complete with iPhone, iPad, and iPod applications that are sold through iTunes. Kids can use CrytoBuddy’s “Secret Decoder Ring” to to learn about encryption and decode in a simple way.
LeRose explains that his company also offers security products that have been licensed or obtained through other companies, such as Rogo. One of these products is a security system which takes sequential high quality JPEG pictures of a location or event. The client has access to these JPEG pictures from any device, such as a web-enabled iPhone, Android or PC.
“You’re at a trade show, and you want to have the home office people look at that booth to see what the traffic looks like and what the employees are showing to potential customers, or someone’s having a wedding and grandma in California can’t come but she can actually watch the sequential JPEG pictures as it occurs,” explains LeRose. “Those pictures can then be taken and be put in a time lapse sequence and be put on YouTube for everybody to see or things like that. So, it’s a pretty interesting little approach.”
There are nine employees at Research Triangle Software, some working in the office, some at home, and others a mix of both. Voice-over IP allows for everyone to stay in touch via conference calls. “They all have a technical bent,” says LeRose of his employees. “Even the customer service people will have a technical bent, but they range from moderately technical to heavy technical.”
Research Triangle Software got hit hard with the recession, and LeRose attributes this experience to the fact that his company is in vertical markets such as hospitality and legal, which have been directly impacted economically. Today, after a couple of stagnant years, LeRose says that the company is back on track and growing nicely.
Perhaps it’s part of the entrepreneurial spirit to be able to balance such risks and rewards and take them in stride. From paper routes as a kid to starting his own business at age eighteen, LeRose seems to be cut from a certain kind of cloth.
“There’s an incredible correlation between entrepreneurs and paper routes when they were kids,” relates LeRose, referencing a study he read once in Inc. 500 magazine. “It gives you a whole sense of how business works. The delivery of the product, the customer service, the collection from people, their bills and everything else. So you’ve got a really good sense of what business is like as an independent business person having a paper route.”
When asked what his favorite part of his job is, it’s that notion of independence that comes up again.
“That’s a two-edged sword. You’re able to do things a lot quicker, which means you’re able to make mistakes a lot quicker,” he says. “But I like the independence related to it, and I also like it too because I’m in technology and am on the board of several other technology companies in the area. I really enjoy using the experience I’ve had to help my own business and help other companies.”