Our increasing use of digital tools during the pandemic radically boosts the need for handling their access in a safe, secure way. The open-source password manager developed by Passbolt is riding on the wave. During the past 12 months, the Luxembourg-based start-up has expanded its staff five-fold and closed a funding round of €2 million.
No matter how often we are reminded of how important it is to use unique, strong passwords for every occasion, it is difficult to follow this advice for many of us who constantly connect to a range of digital tools and services. It is even more challenging for teams that access tools through shared company licences. Passbolt offers a concrete solution: an open-source password manager for teams.
“Our solution meets the needs of agile and digital teams which are on the frontline with password management issues,” says co-founder and CEO Kevin Muller. “It is the only open-source and DevOps-first password manager on the market, which means that developers from all over the world can contribute to it by developing plug-ins and connectors that simplify integration and automation issues.”
Expanding user community
Passbolt applies a freemium concept, with fee-based options for business and enterprise users requiring more advanced features than those available in the free version. After four years of operation, the company has 100,000 daily users from thousands of organisations across the world: Fortune 2000 groups and major universities as well as early-stage start-ups. “Our marketing strategy is to focus solely on making our product as great as possible and to engage with our user community. As of today, Passbolt’s growth has purely been based on word of mouth with significant success,” Mr Muller comments.
Fit 4 Start helped us save a great deal of time and avoid mistakes that could have been expensive.
The start-up’s participation in acceleration programme Fit 4 Start, which it joined in 2016, helped lay the foundation for this expansion. The programme provided the founding team with an opportunity to better understand the market, validate – or reject – some of their assumptions and align their priorities. “Fit 4 Start came at the exactly right time for us: we had built our MVP (minimum viable product) and just started on-boarding our first users. The programme helped us save a great deal of time and avoid mistakes that could have been expensive.”
In order to cope with the increasing demand, the company has grown from four people at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to a team of around 20 today. “The fact that Luxembourg is a tech hub is ideal for start-ups like us. There are lots of talents around,” Mr Muller points out.
This development is sustained by the funding round of €2 million that Passbolt closed at the end of 2020 with investors including Luxembourg-based Expon Capital through the Digital Tech Fund. Their contribution will enable the start-up to respond more quickly to requests for new features from users and engage better with its community. “We are in the lucky position to have much more demand from the market than we can handle. This is extremely exciting, but also very challenging. Speed and quality of execution is the key to rapid growth, which is why we need financial support.”
The fact that Luxembourg is a tech hub is ideal for start-ups like us. There are lots of talents around.
Being located in Luxembourg has a number of advantages according to Mr Muller: things move fast, there is a minimum of bureaucracy and it is very easy to get in touch with people who can help. “This small and dynamic country is somehow extremely committed to supporting start-ups.”