Scott Suhy wants to protect small businesses from cyber attacks and data theft — all for $399 a month.
In 2014, Suhy co-founded Defensative, determined to make advanced cyber tools available to small and mid-sized businesses that often make do with just antivirus software. While intrusion protection, threat intelligence and continuous monitoring have been around for years, it has remained too expensive and too complex for many companies to use, he said.
“These guys have nothing. They are doing antivirus and that’s not enough anymore. They can’t afford these more expensive things. They are left going, ‘What do we do?'” Suhy said.
The company — which employs 18 and plans to grow to 30 by the end of the year — is hoping to expand the client list for its NetWatcher product, which places sensors and monitors within a company’s network and alerts executives to any malicious activity. Suhy declined to reveal revenue or whether the company is profitable.
Suhy is no stranger to startups. In 2008, he founded mobile app maker PointAbout Inc. and sold it to Fairfax-based 3PillarsGlobal Inc. a few years later. He then founded security firm GreenLine Systems in Arlington in 2011, which was acquired by Vienna-based A-T Solutions in 2013. While Suhy declined to disclose how much funding Defensative has received so far, he said there has been strategic investment from himself and other founding members as well as Reston-based defense contractor Oceans Edge Inc.
I spoke with Suhy about his ideas to sell advanced cyber tools to small businesses, and the challenges facing the company in a crowded market.
What is the biggest cyber issue facing small businesses? Unfortunately, employees like to click on phishing messages and go to websites they shouldn’t go to and they like to click on things they shouldn’t click on. Or not keep things upgraded. These are the things that open you up to exploits. We have this executive widget for our customers that says, “Here are all the things your employees do that can get you hacked.” Bad guys and hackers don’t get through the firewall, it’s when employees open up the firewall and let them through. It happens over and over again, all day long.
What is the market opportunity? If you go to [Allied Market Research] or Gartner they will tell you that the managed securities services business is $8 billion in 2014 and it is going to grow to $30 billion by 2020. That is giant growth. It’s primarily driven by the fact that there are not enough security people in the world and the fact that the tools are way too complex. A great deal of the security business is going to start being outsourced. It’s going to be giant growth because everybody is getting hacked and nobody is able to do anything about it because of the cost. Our view is that if we can get the price point to the right place and provide a service that is really easy to use, easy to install and really accurate we can take the market by storm. We are laser focused on a few different verticals. These are verticals that get a lot of pressure from their customers: financial services, tax and accounting. Think about companies that have a lot of data from their customers. Those verticals are really interesting to us. If we can get the mixture right, we will take the market, and that’s our goal — to be the dominant player in the market. This is our home run.
What are your next steps? Now it’s about letting the rest of the world know we are in the market, getting the NetWatcher brand out into the market. We have to get the message of who we are out into the general marketplace. That’s why we are considering taking on a venture round here in the next several months. It’s purely for sales and marketing and getting the brand presence out there.
What is the biggest challenge facing your company? Just getting our name out there and getting known. The security world — there are 11,000 or 12,000 companies in the cyber business. Just getting our name out as being someone who is a little different. We are not a point solution we are a platform. If you look at those companies out there, 98 percent of the companies out there are point solutions trying to sell something really small that is one piece of a much bigger puzzle. We are trying to solve the entire puzzle as a platform. Just getting above the noise is really it.
Andy Medici covers money, the economy, demographics, housing and financial services.