Shanmugavel Sankaran: Making Whistleblowing and Health Conversations Safe

In Game Changers 21, Health by Mary KurekLeave a Comment

Shanmugavel “Shan” Sankaran is the CEO of NixWhistle, which is a blockchain-based platform that solves trust issues for employee feedback.  Shan’s background includes working with Microsoft and IBM in multiple information security and compliance leadership roles, venturing into the startup world as CISO for an e-commerce platform company. He recognized the need for an affordable, easy-to-use GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) platform and started a cloud product that simplified GRC using a SaaS model, called FixNix several years earlier.

Shan is a writer for the Forbes Technology Council and a member of the Cyber Security Task Force for the government of India.  Shan’s experience plus his expertise in GRC creates a perfect foundation for moving organizational feedback into a trusted space.

NixWhistle, founded in early 2020, is the world’s first blockchain whistleblower.  It is in an employee communication platform that allows organizations to have real-time information from their employees to speak up and have their voices be heard; whether they be ideas, suggestions, issues, concerns, or whistleblower reports. The employees may choose to be anonymous, allowing them to confidently speak up without fear of retaliation and retribution. The company is able to build and develop trust within its employee base, demonstrating that all ideas/issues/concerns will be heard and acted upon. The platform allows the company to be pro-active, rather than reactive to growing concerns in the organization, mitigating potential risks for negative publicity, unhappy/disgruntled employees, and hefty fines resulting from a pervasively atrocious culture that is brewing in the organization.

For more intel, we asked Shan a few questions…

Q & A with Shan:

Q:  What pushed you toward developing the CoronaSpeak, WellnessSpeak, and NixWhistle products?

Shanmugavel Sankaran (File Photo)

A:  Bootstrapping it’s way to success in FixNix as an entrepreneur with hundreds of clients across the globe, the company ventured into a few deep tech experiments helping large global banks. One such bank, because of their huge penalties, wanted to make employee communication more trustworthy, so they asked for our assistance to introduce blockchain into our GRC whistleblower system. We initiated it as a product for a couple of years under stealth.   After shipping some early iterations, the company decided to spin it off Jan. 2020 as NixWhistle Inc., a separate company to focus on all employee speak up programs powered by blockchain, such as innovation, employee engagement, and whistleblower. 

On due research, in the building of the product, we found out that employee feedback management companies, like Glassdoor, are one-sided, became a watercooler, gossip, or competition-provoked artificial feedback system. The intention to build an employee communication management system for FixNix, itself; to listen – assuring employees about anonymity and reward, grew further.  We expanded on it for the global player, now with blockchain in NixWhistle.

NixWhistle is redefining the existing whistleblower hotline industry issues through a modern social employee speak up with reward and anonymity assurance, powered by blockchain to improve the environment, social, and governance indices. It is a speak up platform where personnel can put forward their experiences they have come across and share it with the world. 

Post Covid19, NixWhistle has brought it’s technology mettle and industry friends together to build a social initiative to help the governments and citizens to effectively communicate with each other in anonymous fashion with CoronaSpeak and WellnessSpeak (launched in April 2020).

  1. CoronaSpeak is being used by TN State Control Room to interface with citizens to enable anonymous reporting about symptoms and logistics requests. We are also working with Dy CMO  of TN state in India on a separate logistics need. Citizen Communication Management System and Crisis Hotline for Enterprises and Governments are the two important use cases.
  2. WellnessSpeak is an online counseling and emotional wellness assessment platform. We are in the process of vetting counselors and psychiatrists to volunteer to listen and chat with the requests on the emotional issues of anonymous citizens and entrepreneurs on stress, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, domestic violence, and self-esteem.  During COVID-19, there are many people facing a lack of wellness due to the sudden change in their lifestyle, and, as a result, it has affected their mental health. This is why WellnessSpeak has been brought to the world – to provide individuals with some wellness support during this tough time. Along with mental health, physical health also needs to be given priority and importance.  WellnessSpeak will be acting as counselors and guides to help people.

Q:  Are you looking to utilize the data gathered from these products for a specific purpose?  If so, can you share your ideas?

A:  We are working on using the data collected in this after enough anonymization to publish statistics around the needs of citizens, also the emotional needs of the world. We are looking into aspects to build a prediction model, which can be useful in decision making. 

As there is plenty of data available, plus, the amount of data related to the real world keeps increasing with the help of data analytics techniques, a pattern can be identified. This pattern will, in turn, help when it comes to decision making. 

Q:  What do you hope to see come from the products in terms of gain as we begin to transition from the pandemic?  

A:  Improve the citizen-government communication strategy; even expand that to employee-employer in a corporate setting so that people can communicate freely due to anonymity with more trust and assurance.

The pandemic, although, has its disadvantages; at the same time, it is giving us a lot of time to put things together, to improve the company’s blockchain strategy, and to think of better ways that our business can improve with the downfall of the economy.

We were introduced to Shan by Angel Investor Marylou Garcia, who graciously shared some video commentary during a short interview with Publisher, Mary Kurek, about what it was that drew her to NixWhistle and the products that have since come from the company to address communications during the pandemic.  

Shan’s Networking Interests:

  • Citizens- whatever we do, is by the people, and for the people and the betterment of the society
  • Government agencies – as they are the main hub for the nation to run
  • Service Providers – with their constant help and support towards the citizens




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