Behind the scenes of year one at a venture-backed cybersecurity startup

Photo credit: Syaf Djamil

5th September 2019

Team member #1

We had money in the bank: Antler’s investment in us. Now we had to put it to good use. Together, we had to convince the first person to come on the journey with us. To solve the problems we were so passionate about addressing for the industry.

Photo credit: Syaf Djamil

Pilots

The “one more thing” moment

“You’ve done this type of thing many times before,” I told myself. This was true, but there’s always a healthy dose of nerves.

Photo credit: Lara Solomon
Photo credit: Sharon Lu

Learning the fundraising shuffle

I had over 20 meetings with venture capitalists and angel investors on the back of the Antler Demo Day pitch. We’d generated buzz, and people wanted to speak with us.

Customer #1

Cyber Startup School

4am wake up call. I remember thinking to myself that it was ok, because it’s what a founder does. It’s what we do for the cause. On this occasion, it was the first of the weekly 4am wake up calls I’d be enduring every Tuesday morning for the next four months.

Pandemic

The CyRise program adapted to the pandemic by going 100% remote from mid-March. This meant at least that I wouldn’t need to do the 4am thing every Tuesday any longer.

  • Avoid overly-populated areas and large groups.
  • Be personally responsible; self-isolate as much as possible.
  • Keep personally informed of the situation.
  • Only be in the office if there is a good business reason.
  • We have enough of a cash runway to execute as a team through the crisis.
  • We will scale office requirements down.
  • We will reduce the salaries of the founders.
  • The positive takeaway from this crisis is that our product capabilities will be vastly superior when the world emerges from the current situation.
  • Our pipeline remains healthy, and we are in a good position to resume regular sales activities when the market is ready.
  • Continuing remote conversations with current customers, pilot customers, and design partners.
  • Go-to-market planning, with a view to execute on that plan when we emerge from the global crisis.
  • Show leadership.
  • Be professionals.

Accelerating

Antler checks in with their portfolio companies regularly. On this occasion, we decided to talk about the road ahead, particularly given the uncertainty for all businesses as a result of the pandemic.

Motivation

We successfully closed a round of investment to do exactly what we needed; go faster. And we did it at a time when almost everyone was saying it was impossible to do. We deserved to take a breath. To pause, and reflect.

“I’m not investing in your company. I’m investing in you based on my belief that you will be successful.”

It’s humbling. People have given us their hard-earned money because they believe in me. It’s also a lot of personal pressure. But it’s pressure I relish. The best use pressure to empower themselves.

Traction

We’ve put the investment to good use, having doubled the team over the past few months, mostly in engineering. Our product roadmap is aggressive, and achievable.

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Ian Yip

Ian Yip

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Cyber Risk. Cybersecurity. Business. Tech. Entrepreneur. CEO at Avertro. Former CTO at McAfee Asia Pacific.