High Tech company started by RIT alums gets NYS investment

Feb 15, 2018

A technology start-up company with roots in Rochester and RIT is getting some help from New York State.

The company is called Token and it was founded last year by two RIT grads, Melanie and Steve Shapiro.

Credit www.tokenize.com

They make a special type of ring that you can wear as a device  that you would use to do everything from make mobile payments to enable ‘smart locks’ for your home or car.

Empire State Development says that through its New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund it will invest up to $1.75 million in the company.

Token CEO Melanie Shapiro says a main focus of the firm that she and Steve put together is to improve the security of digital identification.

“We’re solving the problem that people carry around way too many things to prove their identity. So we’ve built an identity network, filled with partners, all the way from MasterCard and Visa for purposes of credit card payments to HID for access control,” she told WXXI News.

Shapiro says the ring uses two-step authentication including a built-in fingerprint sensor.

“A big part of what we’re doing is because a lot of these credentials that we’re using to provide identity are so insecure and that’s been really the root problem of all of this identity theft, and with Token, everything is cryptographically secure,” Shapiro said.

The Token rings sell for between $150 and $200; they sold out of their initial production run and now have a waiting list of 30,000 orders.

Shapiro says they employ about 20 people and hope to grow that number this year, something they really want to do in Rochester.

Token is based at Venture Creations in Rochester, which is a technology business incubator run by RIT.