By David Benda, Record Searchlight, July 2013
The origins of FileLife, a technology security company Randall Stephens has established, can be traced from the ashes of another firm the Redding resident started before the economy imploded.
Stephens was living in Southern California and developing a tech firm also based on computer security. The company had an investment deal that would have brought Stephens $2 million in startup capital.
The investor was a home builder, and when the housing market crashed, his enthusiasm waned.
“That put me in a tailspin with that company,” Stephens remembers. “I had 15 employees and I started letting people go.”
But Stephens had patents in the company and had spent a bunch of money on the technology build out. So he started shopping for bank loans, which meant e-mailing his personal information in hopes of getting a loan.
“I remember thinking, ‘What happens if I don’t get that bank loan?’ I don’t want all that stuff sitting out there. I wish I had a way to kill it,” Stephens said, “and, boom, a light bulb went off.”
Using money he had set aside from his 401(k) — Stephens worked in the aerospace industry and for Toro before he branched out on his own — financial help from others and cash he took out against his house, he created FileLife
The product developed by FileLife is an answer to the continued erosion of privacy in the ever-changing virtual world, Stephens said.
“Right now, all the issues you see going on, with the news about the NSA (National Security Agency) looking at emails, looking at data, all the different organizations that allow people to look at data, that is a big problem,” Stephens said.
The technology ensures shared files remain protected throughout their digital life, Stephens said. The protection works whether the files are emailed, shared through social networking or from a third-party cloud.
Stephens explained the embedded technology keeps the person who sent the file in control by stopping unauthorized viewing and forwarding.
Stephens said he has one patent and two that are pending.
“Let’s say I sent you a file and I no longer want you to look at that document,” Stephens said.
By registering with FileLife, the user can set it up to make the document expire in two days, or can log in and kill the document.
While Stephens’ product is for consumers and businesses, he envisions most of his revenue coming from business customers.
FileLife was named the most innovative tech/software product at the North State Sierra Nevada Innovative Challenge this spring in Chico. Stephens’ company beat out 17 other firms.
Mark Lascelles, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Shasta County, watched Stephens’ presentation in Chico.
“I think it looks like it has great potential,” Lascelles said. “He is very interested in . . . developing his product up here and it’s something that’s a good fit for us.
“We are trying to grow an economy that is reflective of current trends of growth industries and this one fits right in.”
Stephens and his family moved back to Redding last summer. His wife, Kristie, got a teaching position in Simpson University’s nursing program.
Randall Stephens went to Redding Adventist Academy before graduating from a boarding school in 1990. He went to Shasta College before earning a degree in engineering technology from Pacific Union in Angwin in the hills above the Napa Valley.
“My wife has been pursuing my passion and my dreams and it was time I pursued hers,” Stephens said. “Being an Internet-based company, it allows me to take the company wherever I want.”
Stephens is currently working out of his home but hopes to move into an office soon and start hiring people. He currently has a team of consultants and a board of advisors that includes Marsali Hancock, president and CEO of iKeepSafe.com.
“I have pulled together a pretty good team,” Stephens said.