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Garlik: Tom Ilube

The Garlik co-founder talks Egg, Tim Berners-Lee and £13bn flotations

Founding internet bank Egg and floating it with a market cap of £1.3bn affords you the right to be picky when selecting advisors for your next venture.

Even so, landing the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, is some coup. The fact that Tom Ilube and Mike Harris pulled it off was a clear statement of intent for personal data monitoring company Garlik.

Garlik's flagship product DataPatrol uses semantic web technology to allow users to track personal information. The system scans public records, commercial databases and credit files for personal data. Members subscribe to receive regular updates, advice and warnings about potentially harmful information.

It taps into growing consumer concern over identity fraud which, fuelled by a series of government cock-ups, already costs UK victims £1.7bn per year. The emphasis then, unsurprisingly, is on professionalism.

“We're not school boys,” insists Tom. “We're methodically building a large-scale consumer company.” Large-scale indeed. The pair raised £9m of VC funding and the company's 2007 launch was preceded by months of consumer focus groups and analysis.

“We're very research driven, and that's from our Egg heritage,” says Tom, who went as far as even talking to the fraudsters themselves. “One of them said: ‘you can shred as much as you like. It used to take me two to three weeks to gather all the info I need to steel someone's ID. With the internet I can do it in a couple of hours'.”

Significant thought and planning also went into the company branding. The name Garlik was chosen for its associations with potency, as well keeping ‘bad things' at bay.

As with Egg, Mike and Tom wanted to develop a strong umbrella brand which they could slot various products underneath. The latest Garlik offering is Qdos, a free service that allows users to quantify their digital status by measuring contributions to social networks, blogs and other sites.

Garlik recently signed a distribution partnership with insurance firm CPP to offer its customers the DataPatrol product. Similar partnerships are also in the pipeline with banks and ISPs.

With Berners-Lee on board there's a lot of expectation for the company to live up to. It's still relatively early days but one suspects Tom and Mike have equally grand ambitions.


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