D.C.-based cybersecurity startup SightGain was named the winner of the DataTribe Challenge on Thursday, lining up the company for up to $2 million in seed funding.
Fulton, Maryland-based DataTribe’s challenge, now in its third year, brought together a trio of startups virtually who were picked from 400 nationwide applicants. Their founders pitched a panel of judges from prominent firms like CrowdStrike, Carbon Black, Under Armour, Shopify and Deloitte.
“From different points of view, all three companies are operating on the cutting edge of where this market wants to go,” said Bob Ackerman, a longtime cybersecurity investor with Allegis Capital and DataTribe cofounder who served as a judge.
In choosing SightGain as the winner, the panel selected a company that appears to align with DataTribe’s approach. The cyber “foundry” typically seeks to work with technologists who have experience inside the intelligence community or federal labs, and build commercial companies alongside them.
SightGain was founded by Christian Sorensen, who has experience in cyber roles at Fort Meade-based United States Cyber Command, and the Pentagon. Reflecting another emerging trend we’ve seen, the company’s blog states that it started out in government services before putting that experience to work to build a product. It is also an alum of the D.C.-based accelerator C5 Accelerate.
Sorenson sees room for the product to play a role as companies seek to make sure they’re prepared for the actual threats that are out there, rather than focusing just on taking the cybersecurity steps that are required to comply with laws and regulations. The company’s platform is designed to analyze cybersecurity technology stacks and teams for readiness to protect against potential cyber threats, and it does so by testing them with known exploits (safely, mind you). It also has automated tools to quantify potential risk to a business, and helps executives identify where the best investments could be made, Sorensen said.
SightGain is working with agencies in the U.S. military, and is now looking to grow in the commercial market. The number of tools offered means that the company has the potential to step in and offer a single solution where there are currently multiple vendors.
Going forward, SightGain will move ahead in DataTribe’s investment process, and become one of the companies taking part in its Maryland-centered programming. The company “is looking forward to partnering with DataTribe’s industry experts and focusing on nation-state technologies that solve massive commercial pain points today,” Sorensen said.
As new technology tools and approaches come about, it will bring new potential for attacks that cybersecurity pros must develop tools to prevent. This was on view in pitches from the two other finalists of the DataTribe Challenge:
- oak9: A Chicago-based company that has tools to analyze infrastructure-as-code, which is an approach to managing the cloud-based servers and resources that run systems, and build security directly into applications
- Scanta, a San Francisco-based company that secures virtual assistant chatbots from potential machine learning attacks