Eric Sanchez helped win a $1.25 billion case for the National Black Farmers Association in 2010. Now he’s a founder of a startup, GrowPath, that launched publicly in April and has already locked down three patents. Interestingly enough, Durham-based GrowPath wouldn’t exist in the first place without the large class-action suit.
Sanchez led an eight-month long claims process involving 384 meetings and handling over 22,000 claims to help award over a billion dollars worth of damages to thousands of African-American farmers across the country. Through the trial and tribulation of it all, Sanchez realized the extreme inefficiency of case intake and management — it was a subpar system that was difficult to use.
Sanchez— formerly the operations manager at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, a large personal injury firm in Durham — took the opportunity to improve the outdated, inefficient system. He did that by founding GrowPath, and now serves as its chief product officer.
GrowPath is a legal services tech company that launched commercially in April. The startup offers intake and case management software for law firms, especially those in business and plaintiff’s law. The company is owned by the employee stakeholders of the Farrin law firm, but is operated independently by a technology team.
GrowPath currently has three patents — each of which Sanchez has a tattoo of on his arm. He said that he started getting tattoos of his key accomplishments back when he was a U.S. Marine. Now that he’s a founder of GrowPath, it doesn’t seem as though he’s stopping the trend any time soon.
“I like to tell people that (my tattoo tradition is) the only way that my wife will let me get a sleeve,” he said. “I’ll be the nerdiest guy with a tattoo sleeve around, I guess.”
GrowPath’s most recently approved patent, a feature called a UF2 key, relies on a user’s personal photos as the second step in a two-factor authentication process on mobile devices.
A user can select an image that they want to serve as their key, and once they try to access the data behind the lock created by the company, the user will be asked to upload the specific image as their key. Then, the user will have access to their information.
“U2F keys represent the current peak of cybersecurity; however, one usually requires a USB port to access them, which mobile phones do not have,” Sanchez said in a statement. “What we’ve created is an extremely personalized and simple authentication process that puts to use the thousands of photos most of us have on our phones as our means of unlocking the information we hold most secure.”
The company also has two other patents that focus on data obfuscation and a logic tool which facilitates the ability to customize algorithms without advanced science or mathematics training. All of which helps with the case-intake and management process and with cybersecurity.
GrowPath hasn’t relied on any outside funding to date, as it’s been bankrolled by several million dollars from The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin and from Farrin himself.
Sanchez said he’s not the typical traditional tech entrepreneur; all he’s trying to do is find solutions to problems that need being fixed. The company’s employees are able to adopt this mentality, which is what has made it so successful, Sanchez believes.
“I’m innately a problem-solver,” says Sanchez. “I’m not the most prolific tech (individual), but I look at things in a different way. I’m trying to solve a problem when I’m coming up with these ideas.”