WisBusiness: Evolution of a name, how IPIC became the a.K.a Card

By Carielee Loeffler

MADISON — GetIPIC, last year’s winner of the Governor’s Business Plan Contest in the Information Technology track is undergoing a name change in the hopes of better serving its consumers.

GetIPIC’s first product — IPIC, the Internet Privacy & Identity Credential — is now being called the a.K.a Card. The a.K.a Card is the same product as IPIC but with a name (short for “also known as”) that GetIPIC hopes will translate more clearly to their customers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2004. This presents a growing need not only for consumer awareness of identity protection but also ways for them to safeguard against theft. GetIPIC founders realized this need and started their company with hopes of keeping consumers proactive in the fight against identity theft.

The a.K.a Card acts as an alias for online shoppers and allows them to make purchases without revealing personal financial information to the selling site. To do this, shoppers use their a.K.a Card in place of their credit card numbers or other personal and financial information. All of that information is kept safe with the issuing card company and is not disclosed to outside businesses.

GetIPIC is just two years old but already has grown. Since its conception, GetIPIC has competed in several business plan competitions to gain exposure, struggled to find financial support and has faced the challenges of associated with a new company.

One of those challenges is finding investors. The Governor’s Business Plan Contest was a great way for GetIPIC to get on the lips of potential angel investors but many of them are involved in the life sciences realm. This was a problem when a lot of the angels who approached them were not necessarily in the IT world and so were not a good match for the young company.

“Finding the funding is a tremendous challenge,” President Khaja Din said, “but anyone can run a company with money. It takes people who can put their skin into it and stay committed.”

And the commitment is paying off. In January GetIPIC signed its first bank partner. The process of signing a bank took a long time, according to Din, and was a very important moment for the company.

“I remember where I was, what I was doing and who I was with when my Black Berry received the signed contract,” Din remembers with a smile. Already, this partnership is proving highly influential. It was through close work with this bank that GetIPIC formed a new idea of how they wanted to present themselves to customers and IPIC became the a.K.a Card.

“We changed the name of the product because we had a partner and we thought differently how the consumer would react to what we were saying. A lot of work into finding the right name that would make sense and convey the right message,” Newport said. Having a familiar acronym helps.

“More accurately it means ‘also not known as’,” Din quipped. The a.K.a Card works as an alias for online shoppers giving them a mask to wear when shopping online.

Another challenge GetIPIC faces, according to co-founder Brent Newport, is “finding the next step in the evolution of the company.”

Right now, the biggest point of evolution is a matter of the name. Din and Newport believe the name “a.K.a Card” will translate better and be easier to understand to potential customers. The company is working on merging the old IPIC world with the new a.K.a Card idea.

However, it can’t simply eliminate IPIC and start over due to their success under that name, so it must slowly integrate the two so as not to lose the reputation they’ve already cultivated. As a first step, a new website is under construction at www.akaCard.com.

Loeffler is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication