CHESHIRE — Two Cheshire High School graduates look to pave the way for the future of cybersecurity at Fairfield University.
Nicole Perugini and Nicholas Brunetti, 2020 graduates of CHS, and their team participated in the Fairfield University Startup Showcase in late April where they debuted their startup company, Golden Guardian Solutions, to prospective investors. The team of six, including other Fairfield students Ian Austin, John Holt, Sarah Leonetti, and Andrew Samarro, were inspired by the impact that fraud had on their own loved ones’ lives. Seeing people who make a living scamming people — especially vulnerable elderly people — out of money, the team put together their expertise to develop a solution.
Golden Guardian Solutions is a web app that aims to prevent fraud before it takes place using an AI-driven authentication system for online traffic, community-based forums, and educational/geographical-based resources. The team’s goal was to decrease the complexity of a senior’s online experience, keeping them safe from those who would seek to exploit them.
“At the beginning of September when classes started, in a computer science class, we were assigned to come up with an entrepreneurial idea. So me and another co-founder named Sarah, we both originally brought our ideas together, but this expanded into the six of us to combine all of our ideas and come up with Golden Guardian Solutions,” Perugini said. “The class was just kind of like a gateway into making us start something, but we realized it was such a powerful idea that we could continue.”
Perugini is majoring in computer science and math while Brunetti is working to become a marketing major. Despite their different fields of study, the pair have used their skills to strengthen the core of their fledgling business. The pair hope to see their project launched in the summer of next year, and have already submitted an application to have their business incorporated as an LLC.
At the showcase, the group managed to win third place in the overall competition and first place in the People’s Choice category. Overall, they took home $6,000 from the competition, but Perugini and Brunetti plan on entering into more so they can bring in further investor money to hire more people and expand their enterprise.
With fraud continuing to be a massive problem, the pair feel like their software will fill a niche in the burgeoning cybersecurity market.
“This is obviously a massive problem. In 2022, from internet fraud, from ages 60 and up, $3.1 billion in losses were generated from that. … And on top of that, (the sum reported) is probably not even the actual total of losses just because ... some of these (are) not reported,” Brunetti said. “Currently, we're looking for funding and we are also looking to find trusted partners to help us in the production of this product. However, we cannot market a crazy amount just yet, just because it's not ready for the market just yet.”
Neither student expected that they’d be starting a business together, especially while they still remain in the middle of their college experience. Still, they were both enthusiastic about the product and building something together, especially after having worked together before back at CHS.
“I also think it's funny that me and Nick ended up back in the same group after we graduated from Cheshire High School. I don't think we would've ever expected that,” Perugini said. “I'd like to say I'm just very excited to continue moving forward and I'm excited to see how people react to it. We already got so many positive reactions and they want to try our product. I can't wait to see how much we can impact people.”