The recognition and financing of these elite startups also underscores the continuing momentum in the Washington D.C. area as a budding hub for state-of-the-art cybersecurity and related startups. A growing number of them are staffed by experienced engineers leaving prestigious research labs and government agencies, including the National Security Agency, to start their own companies.
Prevailion is a unique business compromise intelligence platform that uses nation-state level tools to clandestinely monitor the Internet to catch breaches before they happen.
Inertial Sense has developed the world’s smallest and most accurate inertial GPS hardware and software sensor for drones, autonomous vehicles, wearables and satellites. The Inertial Sense team comes out of classified government programs working on the cutting-edge of micro sensors and software.
The competitors hailed from the Five Eyes nations – the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand – and 4 other countries with strong technology ecosystems. Each startup had to have had less than $1.2 million in previous seed financing.
Demand for State-of-the-Art Technology
“There is more demand today than ever for commercial products created by technology entrepreneurs with experience inside the government battling sophisticated, state-sponsored cyber foes,” said Mike Janke, a co-founder of Data Tribe and one of the Challenge judges. “Many recent, high-profile breaches have been linked to such actors. That raises the stakes for the private sector to fight back against these attacks.”
“The DataTribe Challenge has developed a fabulous opportunity for us to continue on a solid trajectory of product development and growth,” said Karim Hijazi, the founder and CEO of Prevailion. “It’s not easy for technologists in the government sector to break into the commercial sector, but this barrier will be eliminated now that we are a DataTribe-backed company.”
Link between the Challenge and DataTribe
The DataTribe Challenge, which will be staged annually, meshes well with the mission of DataTribe, a cyber and data science startup studio that attracts, finances and helps build commercial elite startups staffed by former employees of intelligence agencies and national laboratories.
“DataTribe pursues the mission of identifying and supporting disruptive innovation in cybersecurity and data science,” said Bob Ackerman, another co-founder of DataTribe and the founder and managing director of AllegisCyber, a San Francisco-based early stage venture capital firm.
“Our support is not limited to financial backing,” Ackerman added. “We spend a lot of time teaching and then coaching the ‘go-to market expertise’ all startups need. Our startups move in to our facility and spend up to a year with us building an elite commercial company.”
The competitors were required to have developed a robust concept or initiated development of a minimal viable product (MVP) – i.e., a product developed with sufficient features to entice early adopters. Commercial experience was recognized but not required. The three finalists had three weeks to refine their pitch and prepare for final judging at DataTribe headquarters in Fulton MD on April 25, 2018.
Judging Panel for The Challenge
The judging panel included Janke, a DataTribe co-founder and also a six-time company CEO; Bob Ackerman, another co-founder of DataTribe and the founder and managing director of AllegisCyber; Steven Witt, another founder of DataTribe and past CEO of Onyara; Mike Aiello, product manager for privacy and data protection from Google; Tony Cole, chief technology officer for Attivo Networks; and John Stewart, chief security and trust officer at Cisco and Daniel Weinand, co-founder of e-commerce giant Shopify.
Several DataTribe-backed companies have gathered headlines recently, such as Dragos, an industrial control cybersecurity company that made news revolving around CRASHOVERRIDE AND TRISIS, and ENVEIL, a developer of homomorphic encryption technology and runner-up of the 2017 RSA Innovation Sandbox competition. In addition, Refirm Labs, an enterprise IoT security company that focuses on firmware validation, was one of 10 RSA Innovation Sandbox finalists in 2018 and has been featured on Fox News and in The Washington Post and Fortune.
DataTribe was launched in 2015 with the vision of empowering technologists in the Washington, D.C. region to build and grow successful cybersecurity and data science startups. Founded by leading investors, startup veterans and alumni of the U.S. intelligence community, DataTribe commits capital, in-kind business services and decades of professional expertise to co-build the next generation of these companies. Refirm Labs, an enterprise IoT security company that focuses on firmware validation, was one of 10 RSA Innovation Sandbox finalists in 2018. ENVEIL, the runner-up at RSA Innovation Sandbox in 2017, has raised $4 million in outside capital. Kesala, a former DataTribe portfolio company and purveyor of mobile firewalls, Wi-FI hotspots and a virtual private network cloud service, all with government-grade encryption, has been acquired by Silent Circle, a secure communications company. Dragos, another former DataTribe portfolio company focused on security protection for industrial control systems, raised $10 million in outside capital. DataTribe is headquartered in Fulton, MD, with offices in San Francisco, CA. For more information, visit https://datatribe.com.
For more information contact Jennifer Jones; Jennifer@jenniferjones.com