Interview with Manish Jindal - Co-Founder and COO at Bytescare

Shauli Zacks Shauli Zacks

In an era where digital piracy and counterfeit products run rampant, businesses are in dire need of robust solutions. Enter Bytescare, co-founded by Manish Jindal, who brings to the table his academic background from IIT BHU and EDHEC Business School, as well as his deep understanding of finance. In this SafetyDetectives exclusive interview with Manish, he sheds light on his journey from investment banking to joining together with Vineet Kumar, and how personal experiences and challenges led to the birth of Bytescare. As we delve deeper, we uncover the comprehensive services offered by Bytescare to combat piracy, protect brands, and safeguard digital assets. Join us as Manish unravels the intricacies of Bytescare’s proactive solutions, technological advancements, and strategies to make the digital realm a safer place for content creators and businesses alike.

Hi Manish, Thank you for taking some time for me today. Can you talk about your journey and what motivated you to co-found Bytescare?

Hi, thank you for asking. I hold a B.Tech degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT BHU and later pursued a Master’s degree in finance from EDHEC Business School in France. Also, I am a CFA Charterholder. After working in the Investment banking domain and helping founders to raise capital, I wanted to start my own entrepreneurial journey. And I got that opportunity to join Bytescare as a Co-founder.

Bytescare was founded by Vineet Kumar, a close friend for over a decade, as we both share the same alma mater, IIT BHU. Vineet’s inspiration for Bytescare came somewhat unexpectedly. He was developing a platform similar to Dropbox, enhanced with additional features, allowing users to store content for later use. However, two years into its operation, he began receiving DMCA strikes and the platform often got flagged by entities like Google and Facebook. Users were uploading copyrighted content, and at that time, he lacked the means to verify such content. He realized that while consolidating content in one place addressed one issue, the lack of content verification harmed original creators.

This realization led to the foundation of Bytescare. Vineet promptly began researching copyrights, engaging with book publishers at book fairs in New Delhi in late 2019. He discovered that many publishers grappled with unauthorized online circulation of their books. Their only recourse was either filing police complaints or pursuing legal action, both of which were costly and time-consuming. Recognizing this gap, he started crafting a tech-based solution for these publishers in late 2019.

I joined Bytescare due to multiple personal reasons. Our content got leaked while I was working at an edtech company. Once I was also duped by an impersonator who created my friend’s fake profile and scammed people like me. These bad experiences, coupled with Vineet’s vision, deeply resonated with me, leading to my decision to start my journey with Bytescare in 2020.

Vineet sought a co-founder with skills that complemented his technical expertise. My background in finance and business was the perfect match. One conversation led to another, and soon, we partnered to elevate the company. Upon joining, my focus was to structure the organization. I implemented company-wide policies, expanded our team from 10 to 60 members, spearheaded our angel investment round, and contributed significantly to the company’s 20x revenue growth within two years of my full-time involvement.

In the four years since our inception, we’ve onboarded over 100+ enterprise clients both in India and internationally, predominantly from the book publishing, education, and news media sectors. Last year, we expanded our services to the creator economy, bringing 40+ social media influencers on board.

What are Bytescare’s main services?

We offer three major services:

  • Pre-piracy solution: We are building tools and software designed to protect content from leaking. Most DRM or watermarking solutions aim to protect the content from getting leaked, but they don’t provide a holistic or 100% foolproof solution. Our focus is on technology that makes the application or website so robust that no infringers or pirates can extract content from the system.
  • Post-piracy solution: The primary service we offer in the post-piracy domain involves working with companies to remove their content from pirated sources. For instance, if you’re a book publisher and your book is being sold or circulated on unauthorized channels, like Telegram, torrent websites, or PDF drives, we identify all the links where the content is available. Then, we take it down from major platforms like Google, Facebook, Google Drive, YouTube, Telegram, WhatsApp, etc. This ensures that the content is only accessible via authorized channels.
  • Brand protection: We assist in two main areas. First, if someone is using your logo or trademarks to impersonate you on social media, we work to remove those impersonating profiles or websites. We identify these impersonating profiles online or on social media and take them down. Secondly, we combat phishing or financial scams carried out in your name. We attempt to track where transactions are occurring, identify the perpetrators of these scams, and work to remove and mitigate their impact.

Can you explain the importance of proactive piracy detection and how advanced tracking technology plays a role in this?

What we found out when we interviewed clients is that they are losing 20% to 25% of their overall revenue from these activities, and they can’t really do anything about it.

There are two main reasons why content is pirated. One is that it’s something that isn’t available in one region. For example, there may be a movie or book that can only be purchased or downloaded in the US, but it’s not available in the Indian or European regions. So, people look for these titles online and download a pirated version.

The second reason is pricing. Why would someone want to pay $15 or $20 to buy a book when they can just download a PDF from a third-party website? This has made piracy a huge problem for most companies.

Until now, the only available solution was to take legal action against the channels hosting their content. However, this isn’t really an effective or fast enough solution. A lawyer will require a new fee for each link that has to be removed, and it takes time to go through the system, contact the websites, until the link is finally removed.

Our technology provides a faster and less expensive solution. We scan the internet and can quickly identify all the links that are circulating your content, both on authorized and unauthorized sites. We then take down these unauthorized links with the help of technology or tools provided by major tech giants like Google, Facebook, Telegram, WhatsApp, and so on.

With our proactive approach, we can Identify tens of thousands of links every day for our clients. Now, we have built relationships with major platforms and service providers, and can remove pirated content faster and better than anybody. Our requests are accepted on an escalated basis, and the links are removed quickly.

To give you a case study, on average, if a user wants to remove content from Telegram, it can take two to three weeks to remove the content. Whereas, we take less than twelve hours to remove the links. That is the difference we have been able to generate.

And the second factor is pricing. We charge less than the salary of a single person or a team (depending on the extent of piracy) that you would need to hire to identify the link and try to remove them. That person will not be 100% efficient, whereas our system is 100% efficient.

So, that’s how we can reduce both the legal and operational costs required for these kinds of services, and also improve efficiency by identifying a larger number of links and removing them in a timely manner.

What technologies or tools are commonly used for monitoring and protecting digital assets in real-time?

As mentioned earlier, there are two protection services: pre-piracy and post-piracy, and the approaches for these are somewhat different.

For pre-piracy, the current solutions available in the market include:

  • Digital protection: This does not allow users to download the contents from a specific website or application.
  • Watermarking: Companies integrate a code, like a QR code or a barcode, to identify the individual to whom they sold that specific version of the file. There are also solutions that prevent screen recording or taking screenshots.

These pre-piracy solutions, while available, aren’t always effective. Many have been in the market for over a decade, and users have found loopholes or vulnerabilities in the software. Moreover, people can often download content, regardless of whether it’s protected by DRM.

What we aim to do is develop a solution that either destroys the file or renders it unusable if it’s extracted from the system. For instance, if you download a movie from Netflix and attempt to watch it on a different player, it wouldn’t function. We are currently in the R&D phase crafting such a solution.

We also have a solution for textual content that uses an invisible watermark integrated within the content itself. So, even if someone tries to copy the content, they would fail to copy and paste. If a screenshot is taken, we can identify the individual who captured that particular content. This technology is something we’ve already established, and we hope to adapt this method for both images and videos.

For post-piracy, we’ve developed in-house crawlers and scraping technology that crawl through major platforms like Google, Facebook, and Telegram. This enables us to identify relevant links. Once these links are found, we cross-verify them using technology to gauge how similar the pirated content is to the original. After thorough verification, we can initiate an automated tool that dispatches takedown requests to platforms like Google and Facebook.

What methods or strategies are effective for identifying and mitigating counterfeit digital products?

We work with keywords associated with the file. For example, if you want to watch Spiderman, the keywords will be Spider-Man, Tom Holland, Spider-Man three, Spider-Man No Way Home, just to name a few. We identify those initial keywords, including multiple variations of each, and then input them into our system, which also leverages machine learning, to search for all the related keywords around the Internet. Once we identify the links, we also cross-verify them to ensure it’s truly pirated content.

We also study the footprints of the website. For example, we know that Amazon is an official website and is renowned for not engaging in piracy. However, when inspecting a lesser-known site, we look at how many ads they’re running, the types of ads on the site, how many download buttons there are, its security features, and check for any malware presence. When we deduce that the website hosts pirated content, we take appropriate action.

Regarding locating counterfeit content, we have crawlers that work with sites like Etsy, eBay, and Alibaba, aiming to match the product details and images with the original product. For instance, in the book publishing category, we compare the pricing, check for any steep discounts, the ISBN number, the seller, their location, and other pertinent details. Then, we can determine if there are any discrepancies in that data when compared to the original publisher’s information. For example, Penguin doesn’t offer discounts of more than 30%. So, if we encounter a book with a steeper discount, we can ascertain that it’s being offered by a counterfeit or unauthorized company.

About the Author

About the Author

Shauli Zacks is a tech enthusiast who has reviewed and compared hundreds of programs in multiple niches, including cybersecurity, office and productivity tools, and parental control apps. He enjoys researching and understanding what features are important to the people using these tools.