5 Questions with Gavin Manes
07-17-2009, Tulsa World - Laurie Winslow
http://www.tulsaworld.com/busi . . . Wu649267&archive=yes
1. What is Avansic and how did it get started?

Avansic is an electronic discovery and digital forensics company that provides services to attorneys and corporations. I founded Avansic in 2004 after graduating from the University of Tulsa because I saw a need in the market for civil digital forensics services. We began with three employees in a one-room office. Now we have 17 employees, 17 summer research interns and the entire 17th floor of the Mid-Continent Tower downtown.

2. Generally speaking, who are your clients or what types of industries do you primarily serve?

Our clients are attorneys and corporations engaged in litigation or internal investigations. We work on many employment and intellectual property cases, and our most common investigation is detecting evidence of fraud or theft by employees. We typically collect and investigate one or two desktop or laptop computers per case, but we've done several larger investigations involving hundreds of digital devices located across the country. In a typical e-discovery case, we filter and convert anything from e-mail to massive file servers so that this information can be reviewed by attorneys and effectively used in court.

3. What would be some examples of things your company uncovers through its digital detective work? Also, what is the most unusual request your company has ever received?

We are almost always asked to find specific Word documents, e-mail conversations or images from a certain period of time. We can also track a user's activity on their computer; for instance, the user "john" turned on his machine at 9:45 a.m., browsed dallascowboys.com for 30 minutes, emptied his recycle bin at 10:41 AM, opened "financial numbers.doc” and made two edits at 11:01 a.m., plugged in a thumb drive and copied that document at 11:35 a.m. and turned off the computer at 12:01 p.m.

We can also find information that's been deleted (intentionally or not), and we've even found the "smoking gun" on a computer that had been in constant use for several years since the incident in question.

Our most unusual case involved a husband who hired us to help locate his Internet mistress after several canceled meetings. After examination of several computers and some e-mail sleuthing, we discovered that the mistress' e-mails had originated at his house. He had been cheating on his wife — with his wife — for over two years.

4. What do you see as the greatest challenges facing digital forensics?

The sheer wealth of electronic information in both the personal and business spheres has made electronic discovery and forensics investigations quite complicated. Locating specific information amid the servers, desktops, laptops and cell phones owned by a company or an individual is quite a challenge. This is particularly true since most companies don't have a good handle on their document management.

5. How has your company evolved, and where would you like to see it be in, say, five or 10 years?

Although we've certainly grown our number of employees, revenue and capacity over the last five years, we've also expanded the number of states we service and our product offerings. We have a number of clients in Birmingham, New Orleans, northwest Arkansas and Oklahoma City, and have plans for additional markets in the near future.

After listening to client requests, we've added an online review repository tool that allows litigation teams across the country to collaborate during discovery. We've also added depth to our laboratory and research staff. We've had a number of articles published in national peer-reviewed journals, and I've had the opportunity to speak at legal, business, and technological conferences across the country.

In the next five to 10 years, I see Avansic keeping its home base here in downtown Tulsa while becoming a nationwide player in both e-discovery and forensics services. I envision us expanding our portfolio of intellectual property related to the industry.