As the greater Washington, D.C. area’s cybersecurity community continues to expand, two recent graduates of the Baltimore-based Cync cybersecurity incubator program show two prominent ways the region is growing the business of cyber defense.
Light Point Security embodies the type of company common to the Beltway cybersecurity ecosystem: top-flight technical talent with deep government experience starting a new business and looking to use the region to take flight nationwide.
iWebGate, on the other hand, represents another aspect of the area’s burgeoning cybersecurity market: an international firm with award-winning technology looking for a big break in the US.
Both companies recently graduated from Cync, a partnership between Northrop Grumman and the bwtech@UMBC Cyber Incubator, a research and technology community affiliated with the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
“bwtech@UMBC's Cync partnership with Northrop Grumman continues to attract and develop promising cyber security product companies domestically and abroad,” said Ellen Hemmerly, executive director, bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park. “Both Light Point Security and iWebGate have developed innovative technologies to fill existing gaps in cybersecurity and add to the thriving cyber security ecosystem in Maryland.”
Light Point Security, founded by two former National Security Agency professionals, sought the insight of the program’s entrepreneurs in residence (EIR) for the business savvy needed to take their technology to market.
“They were able to guide us along and tell us things we should be looking out for, things we need to think about, they helped guide us along as we grew the company,” says Zuly Gonzalez, CEO of Light Point Security.
Those experienced entrepreneurs helped strategically and personally.
“I’m definitely a lot more confident person today than when we first started. I always believed in the company and the product but it was about me as a person growing and having confidence in myself,” Ms. Gonzalez says. “That came through successes. The more successes you have, you feel like you can do the next thing, and the next thing, and the thing after that.”
The company now has roughly a dozen employees and is and looking to make a big marketing push in the next year. Light Point’s technology uses a remote, isolated web browser to address attacks through web browsers, making it possible to click on any website without creating network vulnerabilities.
Where Light Point Security came as an early stage startup, iWebGate, on the other hand, was a technologically-proven commodity when it arrived at the Cync program in 2013 after their 2010 victory in the Global Security Challenge.
They were looking for the right environment to take the company to the next level.
The state of Maryland is “a very cybersecurity-focused environment,” said Tim Gooch, CEO of iWebGate, which was founded in Australia. “We explored US-based landings at places like Silicon Valley. We felt that region was social networking and application-driven versus us being focused on the core of the network and security around that like we are… Having access to the [region’s] talent and other technologies and working with Northrop, [Cync] ticked many boxes.”
Given the group’s radically different approach to enabling secure, global connectivity to any site or device, they were seeking a home to grow their technology and meet established partners who could help them reach scale.
“Getting on the radar of the federal government and major American corporations required credentialing and contact capital,” said Tony Mazza, iWebGate’s chief operating officer. “We believed Cync would afford our company those advantages.”
While they’re still looking to crack the federal government, iWebGate’s time at Cync gave them a better strategic understanding of the cybersecurity landscape, helping them foresee problems before their customers.
“You can see some very good thought leadership when it came to cybersecurity” from other companies in the Cync program and the wider Baltimore cybersecurity community, said Mr. Gooch. “The level of thinking that came from the communal understanding of the issues that will be hitting us square in the face in the years to come was a program highlight. Having peer access to those able to identify cyber issues years in advance, creates significant advantages for companies like ours.”
As they exit the program, iWebGate is building its relationship with a slew of technology and commercial partners to bring its technology to more and more clients.
“The technology emerging from the Cync program is truly leading-edge,” said Chris Valentino, program director, Cyber and Intelligence Mission Solutions, Northrop Grumman. “That’s why we launched it; to get these ideas out of the proverbial ‘garage,’ cultivated and making a difference for our customer.
Mr. Valentino added, “I continue to be amazed at the endless stream of innovation and pleased that we can help these companies nurture their technology and business plans to make a difference in global security.”
If you’re a cyber entrepreneur, heads up: the Cync program is currently taking applications, looking for companies that address critical market needs in the areas of cyber, data sciences, big data, secure mobility and cyber physical systems/critical infrastructure protection. For information about applying to this scholarship program, go to www.bwtechumbc.com.
Light Point Security and iWebGate join DB Networks, KoolSpan, AccelerEyes (ArrayFire), Five Directions, Oculis Labs and Ayasdi as other alums of the Cync program.