CoTT

DevOps solutions with zero-trust technology for better secret management.

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Overview

Product Concept

Chain of Trust Technologies (CoTT) is a secret management platform that secures, automates, audits, and manages access to keys and configurations. The platform offers developers and IT admins a single source of truth to store sensitive information. By handling both key-value pairs and files, CoTT broadens the meaning of what can be considered a secret in an organization and therefore differentiates itself from existing secret management solutions.

Aha! Moment

Preston Koprivica, founder and CTO of CoTT, previously worked on Cerner’s cloud security team. He was in charge of designing security protocols for Cerner when the company migrated to the cloud. He noticed there was a lot of time and money spent on manually rotating passwords and other tedious work. He figured that if Cerner - as resourceful as they are - struggles with this kind of work, then other technology companies must be as well. That was when Preston set out to build a solution which would simplify, streamline, and eventually automate the entire secret management process.

Founder story

Ben Hammes, CEO of CoTT, shared the company founding story with us during an interview.

“My partner, Preston, worked for Cerner for about 7 years. Whenever he was there, he worked on their cloud security team. He and another guy were in charge of designing security protocols for Cerner whenever they migrated to the cloud. So you’re talking about millions of data points. Working in clusters of thousands of machines at a time, so very large scale.”

“When he was there he saw that they spent $10 million a year manually rotating passwords. They had 30 full-time engineers running a 200-page work plan just doing mind-numbing work. He started to think why is this being done like this. Then a thought occurred to him, if Cerner, a large tech company was doing this, that means other large tech companies were too. And he sought to find a way to fix this problem.”

Client

Chain of Trust Technologies (CoTT)

Project Category

Desktop App, Web App

App Category

Cybersecurity, Enterprise SaaS

Venture Phase

Seed Round

Client Highlight

Launched MVP and ran beta tests

What We Did

  • tick UX/UI Design

  • tick Prototyping

  • tick MVP Development

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Problem

CoTT aims to become the platform which simplifies the process of secret management. To accomplish this goal, CoTT needs to provide a seamless user experience (UX) and intuitive user interface (UI) to their target audience. CoTT has a team of brilliant software engineers; however, UX/UI is not their forte.

Ben and Preston understood that in order for CoTT to succeed, the platform must be easy to learn and use to truly make the users’ lives easier, rather than adding to their already overwhelming pile of things to read a manual on.

With the goal of going to market with the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) version of the platform as soon as possible, the CoTT set out to find a product design partner who not only can design a smooth UX/UI but also can critically think about the product from the end user’s perspective to continuously improve the experience as the product evolves.

In their extensive search with many trials and errors, CoTT found Lean Start Lab. Our teams really jived during discover sessions where we discussed possible directions in which we can take the UX/UI. One option stuck with both teams, and we decided to continue working with each other to build it out.

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Solution

Strategy

When it came to working with CoTT, due to the nature of their project, they were a bit atypical compared to other clients. They are very technical and would be leading the backend development, leaving the frontend development, and collaborating with us to integrate the frontend and backend. As such, CoTT required a very high frequency of communication, which was something we gladly agreed upon.

Before we got started with CoTT, we read through all of the previous documentation they had delivered to us at prior to project kickoff. The amount of detail they carefully documented was astounding. This reading assignment was not for the faint of heart. Once that assignment was completed, we had a very thorough understanding of how CoTT would work and got ready to whiteboard with the CoTT team.

During the whiteboarding sessions, we discussed and debated how to execute the key features, the different use cases for the app, and the priority of items in the product backlog before we started designing. (Fun fact: sometimes the debates would get so in depth, that at least half of the room - people from both teams - would have no idea what was being discussed!)

“LSL is a big proponent of staying lean and going fast. We had a lot of things we wanted to meet and complete first, but LSL really drilled down to find out exactly what needed to be accomplished.”

CoTT solution image

Design

We continued to meet with the CoTT team frequently for follow-up whiteboarding sessions to flesh out the layout of screens and design elements. During these sketching sessions, we made sure to take detailed notes on how everything would work to ensure that the designers would understand how technical the project was. This was to ensure the development of the final product would go without a hitch.

When it came to the style guide for CoTT, we went for a monochromatic look that was the industry standard for developers tools. The reason we chose this color scheme was due to the nature of the app. The app needed to produce graphs and charts. Those charts and graphs would incorporate color, and each color would indicate a specific action. We made the call that the neutral color scheme for the rest of the application would 1) give room for the important information to stand out and 2) lessen the cognitive load to process the data visualization.

“What we’re trying to do would be the first of its kind and we didn't want to just base our design on the most popular current app. We wanted something new and unique to suit us. We wanted to be a part of the design process and didn’t want to just hand our idea over and let someone else design something we didn’t approve of.”

Development

When it came time to develop the user interface of CoTT, Preston and the CoTT team had developed a good amount of the backend. Within a few months of work with the CoTT team, we had caught up to what they had finished. Once we reached this point we began to build the middle ground that the frontend and backend would use to communicate with each other.

Now that this was complete, it was time to build design and develop in tandem. This posed a bit of difficulty. Neither side of the partnership wanted to cause any delays to the process by switching gears to restrategize, as context-switching would slow everything down.

But that's when Suhaib, our project manager, had an idea. Instead of waiting for meetings and updates for him to start developing the frontend, he decided to move into CoTT’s office and work with the CoTT team onsite to implement the frontend-backend integration.

“It was a great feeling to have a product where you could just click a button on the internet and download. Granted it was clearly a prototype beta product, but it was still a great feeling to know that we built the delivery pipeline and that it was completed.”

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Results

  • CoTT has recently launched a beta test for a portion of their platform to test the waters and gathered useful user feedback. They used the feedback to continue to improve their core technology.

  • “We aren’t building what we think is gonna be revolutionary and it gives other people the opportunity to beat us there. There's a good amount of companies trying to solve these problems, from AWS all the way down to little startups,” said Ben Hammes, CEO of CoTT.

  • To CoTT the lack of speed during their initial development was a big problem they wanted to solve, and now, they feel as though they are going at a good pace to solidify their place in the market.

  • We expect big things from CoTT, and now that they're close to release, you should too. CoTT will revolutionize the secret management and IT security. Check them out at https://www.chainoftrust.io/

CoTT app gif

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Summary

  • Clear launch strategy and product roadmap

  • Intuitive UX/UI design

  • Integration of frontend and backend

  • Successful Beta tests

  • Launched MVP in 2019

  • Received $200,000+ in seed funding

  • CoTT featured on Startland News

“Your team and contributed to outlining the skeleton and then really building out the design and the flow. And we’ve had a heavy hand in it every part of the way to the point where one of your team members lives at our office. It’s been a really tight relationship and we could not have gotten to this point without that relationship.”

Ben’s 3 words:
“Committed. Flexible. Friendly.”

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