Ron Atzmon

Born in Israel to an entrepreneurial family, Ron Atzmon finished his active Navy service in the mid-nineties. Today, the business he founded, AU10TIX, is used by companies such as Google, PayPal and Uber, with a value of over ​​$300 million. 

Ron Atzmon

After completing his BA in business administration, majoring in marketing and HR (instead from accounting which was his focus for the first two and half years), Ron went into sales, project management and investment banking. These fields gave him a taste for corporate success and fuelled a rapid increase in his commercial and professional skills. During the dot-com bubble, he worked in investment banking, started two companies, and enjoyed surfing the crest of the technological wave that was occurring. 

Then the 2008 crash happened, which was a devastating blow for Ron’s previous company in the space of social media analytics. He was looking for his next challenge. 

The birth of AU10TIX 

As he was cleaning up his businesses following the crash, Ron's dad stumbled across an idea. He’d read an article in the New York Times newspaper about banks getting fined for not doing proper KYC (Know Your Customer). One of the issues that the banks faced was the authentication of documentation. It sparked an idea that was to change the technology landscape forever. 

At the time AU10TIX was a small R&D unit of 15 people. They were developing a passport authentication tool for parent company ICTS International which provided airport security and immigration services. 

What if they could create a digitised identity verification programme that was capable servicing the banks in a fast and scalable way? 

The initial proof of concept was rather clunky: 

It was a solution, a piece of software that you had to stitch to a computer that was dependent on scanners, it was like spaghetti… not really organised. I had to work out what I could do with it.

But selling a solution is complicated. Much more complicated than a product. So they took the software from a solution to a product, and pitched it to a local Israeli bank, whowere looking for this kind of documentation authentication for account opening for foreign nationals in Israel.  

The rest is history. Their idea formed the birth of AU10TIX, a product that verifies ID document types in all languages for over 190 countries. The suite is designed to evolve and adapt to future needs, ensuring that businesses are well-prepared to address emerging challenges in the ever-changing landscape of identity verification.  

Even though the solution was adopted well, it still took Ron almost four years to feel like he’d made it. 

After selling AU10TIX into the Israeli bank, he went to the UK market and partnered with Experian, who helped to take the solution to other banks. They really liked the product, but it needed to be integrated, which was complicated because of the technology. So the deals never took off. 

Ron Atzmon

A lucky break  

As luck would have it, Ron bumped into a friend on the beach in Tel Aviv, who was working in fintech. He told Ron of his challenge in onboarding customers - he really wanted to automate the entire process. AU10TIX wasn’t that successful selling into the banks, and Ron was losing patience from his family about continuing to fund the business.  

This resulted in a bit of ‘arm wrestle’ with his dad and the engineering team to convince them, which he eventually did. 

We had a bit ​of an argument​ because I wanted to rewrite the ​product in a different​ way so it could work as a back end service, not as a front end, and reproduce it, killing some capabilities and building new ones. My dad didn’t agree with that, he felt I was downgrading it. I was just rewriting it in a different way to deliver what the market was looking for.

Undeterred, Ron and his team went back to the drawing board. They were able to take the core of the product and repackage it, ready for the rapidly changing technology market.  

To their delight, their first meeting was with PayPal who liked the concept and started to test and evaluate where this should fit in their global process. But the first deal came from Payoneer, which took nine months. Their second customer was Wonga, then a year later Googl​​e Wallet onboarded their solution with their compliance team. 

That’s when Ron first allowed himself to admit he could be on to something. “It was only then when I felt I knew what I’m doing, and that I was on the right path.” From there, Ron developed the solution to include additional fraud detection and other services, developing six different product lines. 

Today, AU10TIX is hugely profitable. They count LinkedIn and Airbnb as their customers, amongst many other household brands. The company has never had to raise funds; they bootstrapped the company and turned profitable back in 2017 and sold shares in 2019 for $80 million. 

AU10TIX’s product suite includes an Identity Verification Suite, Serial Fraud Monitor and Reusable Digital ID, as well as the AU10TIX Platform. 

Ron outside the entrance to the Business School
Ron Atzmon walking down Exhibition Road
I’m lucky ​to be​ at the right place at the right time. You always look back at your life. It’s a series of coincidences - what if I did go to Officer School or only did three years of Navy service? What if I went to study in New York and not in London? My success is a bit of luck, good karma, and trying to be a good person. If you’re a kind person and your heart is in the right place, positive things will happen, one way or another.

Continuous self-improvement 

Even now, with household names on his customer list, Ron still grapples with self-doubt. By his own admission, he has a continuous self-reflective narrative in his head, asking questions as to whether he’s getting it right or not. 

I look at the market as a mathematical equation, with multiple unknowns. So, with each unknown, you ask ‘How will it affect the equation?’

Giving back is an important part of AU10TIX's objectives. The company has been refurbishing computers and giving them to underprivileged children in Israel. In the U.S. they also provide identity verification services free of charge to All for Good, a volunteer marketplace. Ron gains immense satisfaction​​​​ from working on these kinds of initiatives and supporting others, as well as identifying good talent.  

Bumps in the road  

Big success doesn’t come without failures, of course, and Ron is pragmatic about his mistakes. He reflects on hiring people that weren’t right for the business, including senior leaders. Part of his success comes from facing up to his mistakes quickly and being mature enough to do better next time. 

What gets him out of bed in the morning? “People. Understanding people, and their problems. It gives you ideas. Then you give them solutions. It feels good to help others.” 

Challenging ideas at Imperial 

Imperial was where Ron made friends for life, as well as having a place to test his entrepreneurial skills and abilities. 

He wasn’t afraid to be a feisty trailblazer, igniting friendly debates with lecturers and thriving off the intellectual stimulation and opportunity to push boundaries. He found himself drawn to the entrepreneurship speciality, where he got to meet some interesting startups. 

I intended to challenge my brain and challenge others - I might have taken things up a notch, but it was great fun. I wouldn’t change anything.

A friend described him as ‘marmite’ - people either like him or they don’t. But Ron doesn’t mind that, and he looks back on his time at Imperial very fondly. 

Ron standing on Exhibition Road outside the College's main entrance

The entrepreneurial touch  

Ron is thrilled to receive the Alumni Entrepreneur Award from Imperial. His advice is to others who want to follow in his footsteps:  

You need to be a dreamer. Optimistic. You get hammered to the floor, but you have to think ‘tomorrow’s another day’- get up and fight back.

“Some entrepreneurs lose touch with reality, and that’s where they crash”. He explains he is grateful to be where he is today.  

AU10TIX certainly isn’t short of accolades. The Imperial award will sit alongside his other accomplishments including the 2023 FinTech Breakthrough Award and the 2022 GLOBEE Cybersecurity Silver Award. 

Looking to the future  

Ron’s accomplishments are plentiful. But like any ambitious entrepreneur, this tech game changer isn’t resting on his laurels. 

As for the future? Ron says, “AU10TIX will be a bigger player, but I’m not sure if it will come under this brand. I’ll scale it and just see what happens.” 

I know where the industry’s going. Identity is becoming a bigger piece of our lives; the industry is going into consolidation. It’s a question of who will eat who?

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Ron Atzmon

Imperial's Alumni Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of our alumni community and the variety of ways they are making a real impact across the globe.

The Alumni Entrepreneur Award recognises and celebrates innovative and creative alumni entrepreneurs.