Cybersecurity / Health / Health tech / Startups

DreamIt Health alum Protenus ramps up after starting ‘from scratch’

Two former med students are now securing health data. Their startup has raised funding, secured early partners and plans a full launch in the next few months.

In his presentation at DreamIt's demo day last year, Protenus founder Robert Lord talked about the growing threat of data breaches in healthcare. (Screenshot via Ustream)

Nick Culbertson was a Green Beret. Robert Lord worked at a hedge fund in Connecticut. Then after a career change, both found themselves in medical school at Johns Hopkins University. But while there, the pair met and discovered a much greater need.
Their Canton startup Protenus, based in the Broom Factory, aims to secure electronic medical records by detecting and analyzing unauthorized access. Right now, its software is in beta with practitioners at Johns Hopkins HospitalJohns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and as far away as Western Maryland and Washington.
“We’re working to get to a [minimum viable product] that’s more enterprise-ready by Q1 of 2015,” Lord said.
When the pair entered DreamIt Health last year, they had no idea what they were doing just yet.
“We were two medical students that applied to DreamIt not really with a clear project or company suggested,” Culbertson said. “We pretty much started from scratch [that] January.”

It was through DreamIt Health they connected with officials at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“We’ve so far had some good feedback from our primary customers at Hopkins,” Lord said. “It’s a tremendous amount of research that goes into a project like this.”
While they’ve had early discussions with other clients, Hopkins was a tough enough task for the pair to tackle during the beta stage.

“We needed to focus down because Hopkins alone has a large amount of data. Hopkins is really seven different hospitals so we’re working with all their community hospitals and their outpatient clinics throughout,” Lord said. “It creates some unique and challenging opportunities.”

Until December, the seven-member Protenus team was mobile, working wherever needed. Now, they operate out of sparse office space that includes a Christmas tree and the occasional dog brought to work.
“You can see there’s no data stored here,” Lord said.
The spare digs also hide the capital at play with Protenus. The company recently closed a $1.2 million seed round and raised $100,000 from TEDCO’s Cybersecurity Investment Fund.

Companies: Protenus / Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / DreamIt Health / TEDCO / Bio-Rad Laboratories

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


Major state funding boost means more Maryland college students can get tech internships

Cal Ripken Jr. essay: The MLB legend explains his drive to build STEM centers in schools across the nation

The end of software as technology

From quantum to biotech, meet this year’s Maryland Tech Council ICON nominees

Technically Media