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UMass grads fight financial crime

During a time when many businesses are downsizing and cutting back just to stay afloat, Dexrex LLC – founded and run by former University of Massachusetts students – is expanding, soon moving from college-town Amherst to the banking center of Boston.

The company’s website, Dexrex.com, allows users to archive their instant messages as well as mobile text messages, then browse and search old records. The site was created by CEO Derek Lyman and Chief Technology Officer Richard Tortora.

“While we were undergrads, Rich and I were living in Northeast [Residential Area] and we were just bored,” said Lyman.

The company plans to relocate on March 1, the latest in a series of successes for Dexrex.

 In 2005, the inspired duo started to construct and test software that would store data that could be organized and later revisited. At first, the idea was to design a program that would save instant messages in the event of a computer crash, so that later the user could log on and continue their conversations.

“It was just for fun, really,” said Lyman.

The project eventually grew from what Lyman described as “two guys kickin’ it in a dorm room to two offices with a 14-person staff.” The expansion began in 2007 when Lyman and Tortora attended the Executive Summary Competition put on by the UMass Entrepreneurial Initiative and were inspired to seek start-up investment for their company.

However, fears of the looming financial crisis were growing, and finding investors proved to be Dexrex’s biggest challenge. But ironically, it was the crisis itself that ended up spurring investors. The two entrepreneurs saw the potential for Dexrex to be a tool for financial oversight, as well as a guard against insider trading.

Lyman and Tortora’s big break came in August 2009 when a New York-based distribution company approached them. As a new enterprise in the financial sector, they sold their product to investment firms who saw Dexrex as a cheaper alternative to similar products and an effective monitoring tool against illegal financial activity.

“We revolutionized the market,” said Lyman. “We did for one to two dollars per unit what other companies were doing for $10 to $20.”

The company also launched a Blackberry application for Dexrex in April 2009.

According to a press release announcing the application’s debut, “Dexrex SMS backup automatically archives your incoming and outgoing text messages to a private, password-protected account online at Dexrex.com.”

“Dexrex provides users with a wealth of features like searching, forwarding, deletion, SMS monthly totals, contact management and the ability to view stored messages from any web-enabled device,” said the release.

The company’s founders believe the corruption on Wall Street, which was partially responsible for the recession, will give Dexrex a lasting market in which to sell their product. As long as there is finance and insider trading, firms will need companies like Dexrex to keep capitalism honest, Lyman and Tortora said.

Matt Bouteillier can be reached at mbouteil@student.umass.edu.

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