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How Gretel.ai Prioritizes Both Privacy and Productivity with WorkOS’ Support

WorkOS' Magic Link powers login at Gretel.ai, allowing their engineers to stay hyper-focused on building towards their core value proposition of data privacy.

What does it mean to be privacy-first company? Gretel.ai, a startup that just raised $50 million in its Series B round, may have the answer. 

Gretel was born out of a belief that developers should be able to work with sensitive data, without compromising on compliance or privacy. Their APIs enable teams to generate synthetic data as well as classify, label, transform and anonymize data. 

Because compliance and privacy are so core to their product, the Gretel team knew that they wanted to be on the “cutting edge of security”. To John Myers, their CTO, this meant that they would eschew usernames and passwords for the login of their product.   

So, the team turned to WorkOS to power their Magic Link log-in experience this year. As they gear up for a GA launch in early 2022, WorkOS will also power additional enterprise features like Single-Sign-on (SSO). 

Gretel's Cloud Console

Gretel focuses engineering resources on their core value proposition

Gretel’s founders, Ali Golshan, Alexander Watson, John Myers, and Laszlo Bock, created the company based on their time in larger organizations. At these companies, getting access to production data conflicted with privacy concerns, so the four decided to build a platform that would remove privacy-related bottlenecks while allowing for collaboration with sensitive data. 

Today, Gretel serves customers across every industry -  from healthcare and life science researchers at Illumina to top tier financial institutions. Each type of customer has  a unique need for creating synthetic data that’s specific to that industry (e.g. profit and loss data for a fintech company). Still, there are shared backend requirements across all of these customers like authentication and billing, according to Myers. 

The conundrum was the team still wanted to stay hyper-focused on building towards their core value proposition of data privacy. 

Even with more than ⅔ of Gretel’s employees being technical, the team decided to use outside experts like Stripe and WorkOS for help with necessary back-end functionality. As Myers put it, “it’s a philosophy where we ask ourselves ‘why build it when we can buy it' and stay focused on developing our core products."

WorkOS Magic Link powers login with email at Gretel

When Gretel was being built in beta, Myers knew that traditional username and passwords could pose security risks.

We refused to build username and password functionality, both because it was a dying security tactic and because it was resource intensive.

— John Myers, Co-Founder & CTO

The team started with “social logins” - the ability to log into Gretel with a pre-existing Google or GitHub profile. This functionality was built in house but as Gretel moved to beta, their customers asked for more - specifically, an ability to log in with email. 

The team compared Auth0 and WorkOS and ultimately chose to move ahead with WorkOS’ Magic Link product. “The docs were super easy to understand and we were able to get started in minutes,” said Myers.  

Within a few days, the team was able to ship Magic Link for their customers, despite originally allocating a couple weeks for the task. The team was especially impressed by the tight collaboration and quick turnarounds with the WorkOS Developer Success Engineering team. “Within a week of requesting a feature on the Python SDK, it was on the API,” says Myers.  

Gretel further built out their login-with-email experience - adding an anti-phishing layer as well as customizing the email sent to customers with a Sendgrid template. Today, Magic Link powers a majority of the logins into Gretel on a daily basis. 

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Magic Link
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