Read on about 2021 DataTribe Challenge finalist, Grey Market Labs, and their product, Replica.

Q: Tell us about your background.

Kristopher Schroeder

Kris started toying around with computers in the late 80’s which fueled two degrees in Computer Science and a career driving market and technology strategy for leading commercial and federal customers. While working on the front line of Cyber Counter-Intelligence and open-source information exploitation, he realized there needed to be a fundamental change in how people and organizations interact and live online. He founded Grey Market Labs to empower this change. As CEO, he leads the strategy, operations and communications of the company. Prior to Grey Market Labs, Kris was a Principal and Officer in Charge for Booz Allen Hamilton leading a $40m annual systems delivery business. He helped establish the National Open Source Enterprise, created the first federal open data pandemic collection and analysis system, and horizon scanning systems for Fortune 500’s. Served as an Adjunct Professor with Johns Hopkins University. With his wife, he founded Uncorked, Inc a 501(c)3 supporting the DC community.

Ryan Underwood

Ryan began his software development career in the early 1990’s with BBSs, IRC, and eventually the modern internet. His interests center around internet-based surveillance, tracking and detection techniques. As CTO at Grey Market Labs, he leads engineering, technology strategy, and the innovation agenda. His formal education includes a bachelor’s and master’s in Computer Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence and Software Engineering. For the past 20 years, as a software architect and developer, he has been immersed in projects across the internet spectrum including lawful intercept and telecommunications surveillance programs, internet research training, and internet attribution R&D. Ryan has received numerous awards from the Intelligence Community and commercial organizations for his work in these areas, including his support to high-profile criminal and national security investigations. He is the co-inventor of 7 granted patents — and counting – in these domains.

Q: Tell us about your business/idea

Grey Market Labs® is a Public Benefit Corporation founded with the mission to protect digital life. Our Replica Platform powers Secure Environments as-a-Service (SEaaS), making organizations more protected with our patented privacy and Zero Trust approach to security and more productive by increasing access to critical data, tools, and workflows on-demand, from anywhere. This spans support of Threat Intelligence and Hunting, Industrial IP/Espionage Protections, OSINT and Commercial Data Acquisition, Managed Attribution, Machine Learning, AI and Data Science, to Secure DevOps and more. Our experienced commercial engineering talent and public benefit mission combined with our decades-long experience supporting the IC/DoD provides a trusted resource for all our customers.

Q: What was the original inspiration for your company/product?

Ryan and Kris supported the US Intelligence Community for many years leading software development teams and founded Grey Market Labs because we had a problem. Much of our work was focused on Cyber Counterintelligence and our job was to review and implement the available commercial or government tools to protect and support online data collection, operations, and collaboration. Every tool that we had available had some weakness or risk, some more than others. However, when we saw those risks turn into issues that destroyed years’ worth of our customers and our work in just hours, we knew we had to do better. We also knew this was not just a problem for the Federal Government. These data privacy and security issues were compromising banks, transportation systems, pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms, investigators and more. That’s why we created Replica.

However, the realization that we were on to something transformative occurred after our first discussion with a Fortune 500 bank. We were brought in by the Cyber Crime Prevention team. By the time we went to pilot, 6 other teams from across the bank had joined the effort. This happened again at a Fortune 500 consulting firm, then again at a major transportation system, and again at a Fortune 500 telecom. Replica’s value is easily recognized by customers and cuts across organizations, giving us a massive addressable market spanning many verticals.

Q: What’s your vision for the future? What will the market you are pursuing look like in 5-10 years?

A decentralized workforce is here to stay and must be embraced. Two markets that are growing at record pace because of this decentralization are cybersecurity and cloud/ virtualized computing. The cyber market’s annual spend continues to grow but breaches increase almost at pace with the spend. Clearly something is broken in the solutions there. Cloud and virtual computing has transformed an industry with efficiencies and speed that are unmatched. Unfortunately, the complexity and difficulty to access and transition to Cloud has diminished its value.

In the next few years, Grey Market Labs will have removed the complexity in delivering and securing virtual environments across clouds and will have bridged the divide between virtual, cloud and physical computing – mobile, laptop, desktop, server, IoT and more. We will have disrupted the cyber privacy and cybersecurity landscape, eliminating many security risks while making our customers more productive. Most importantly we will have put the CISO (security) and Market Leaders (productivity) on the same team rather than as adversaries in the business.

Q: How does your business address pressing cyber and data challenges for the commercial sector?

A problem with much of cyber security is that it addresses the symptom, rather than the root cause of the problem. The widespread availability of data on organizations, their employees and their systems – collected by advertisers, data brokers, hackers, nation states, etc. – provides a rich data set used to target and exploit individuals and organizations alike. Grey Market Labs’ first goal was to prevent that data from being exposed in the first place. Next, we knew that our customers still had to be productive while being secure, so we had to make the user experience simple and compelling. We built the Replica platform to do this, by providing Secure Environments as-a-Service (SEaaS), embedding privacy tradecraft and knowledge gained from years in the US Intelligence Community along with the latest in cloud and virtualized computing to give our customers access to critical data, tools and workflows to do their jobs. Replica works on-demand, from anywhere.

Q: What attracted you to the DataTribe Foundry? Why did you choose to participate in the DataTribe Challenge?

We have talked to many potential investors during our startup journey. DataTribe was one of the first to recognize the value of our dual use technology where a singular solution can address government and commercial problems at scale. In our early meetings with DataTribe it was clear they saw at least some of our vision for not only the problems we are solving today, but the magnitude of the problems our platform will solve in the future. The value of the Foundry was in finding like-minded people that can accelerate our business. DataTribe’s style is to partner with your business; and when learning about the DataTribe Challenge, we already had so many mutual customers, companies, and connections, doing the Challenge was a no brainer!

Q: What’s your long-term vision for your business?

Our product, Replica, is foundational technology that has a place in any organization. Replica dissolves the natural friction between being more secure and still retaining world class productivity. It changes the game for privacy and security. Long term, everyone will realize the same value that Grey Market Labs and our customers experience today. We will have expanded our support to critical businesses like Banking and Transportation but, more importantly, increased the availability of our products to organizations tackling issues like combatting human trafficking or freedom of speech and free access to information. Deploying Replica empowers an organization to skip the arduous and costly growing pains to do more – more virtually, more protected, more productive.

New products and versions of Replica will continue to come out of Grey Market Labs as the digital landscape requires constant innovation. In the future, most organizations will be using or regularly interfacing with a Replica environment. Success will be in the massive scale of protections and value we offer to the users but also so transparently that that many users will not even know they are on the platform.