SecurEnds, a cloud-based Identity Governance startup, is the latest Atlanta company to secure funding from an enterprise software-focused venture capital firm. Following the funding news, CEO Tippu Gagguturu told Hypepotamus about the history of the company, where the cybersecurity community in Atlanta is heading next, and how the startup plans to triple its workforce over the course of the next year:
Tell us a little bit about the origin story of the company?
We knew that there was opportunity within cybersecurity – we had seen both the amount of attention given to cybersecurity within organizations (e.g., company executives making cyber a top priority) as well as the increased attention publicly due to the importance of safeguarding company data. Based on our personal experiences as well as talking to organizations about the challenges they face, the topic of Identity Governance continued to emerge as a central theme throughout these conversations in 2018. Specifically, organizations were struggling to automate user access reviews, which are an access certification process needed to ensure risk and compliance standards. There was a gap in the market for a cloud-based solution that could automate the process more effectively than existing legacy solutions. Legacy solutions are mostly manual, which means they are very time and resource-intensive.
After keying in on user access reviews, we spent more than half a year talking to potential customers about the challenges they were facing before we even got started on really developing the product. We also worked with a leading auditor to understand the requirements from their side; we ended up getting a holistic picture of what’s needed both from a customer perspective and an auditor perspective which pushed us to develop the right set of features.
Fast forward to the summer of 2019, and our product was at a stage where we felt comfortable beginning the sales process. We really started to gain traction during that time period and ever since have been working to continue iterating based on customer feedback and relevant trends. Our customer base has now grown to nearly 100, and we hope to keep the positive momentum going.
For those unfamiliar, what all does Identity Governance entail?
At a high level, Identity Governance helps organizations manage access to applications, systems, or data thereby reducing the risk that comes with excessive or unnecessary identities. For example, let’s say you work at a Fortune 500 company, you may have access to Office 365, ServiceNow, and Okta among many other applications. Your company needs a way to verify that you have the appropriate access for your specific role as part of their compliance standards. The standards can draw from either regulatory requirements (e.g., SOX, GDPR, HIPAA) or specific internal risk programs. SecurEnds fits in by automating the process in which these companies conduct their reviews. Globally, the regulatory environment is only going to expand as it relates to governance, so we’re really excited about both current opportunities as well as ones in the future.
How did you know Elephant was the right partner at this phase of the company?
Our relationship with Elephant goes back more than a year. We’ve been in touch with both Jeremiah and Chris (Partners at Elephant) from a very early stage of our company. We knew they were the perfect fit for us for a few reasons: even prior to the investment, they demonstrated an ability to be true thought partners in collaborating on how we could grow our business. Additionally, their investment history really speaks to their credibility in the sector. They led the Series A of another cybersecurity company called KnowBe4 a few years ago, and earlier this year helped them go public. That really spoke to their ethos of being able to grow with a company at every stage and in our mind, solidified their sector expertise.
How many employees do you currently have?
We currently have around 60 employees (we’re hiring every day!) but are looking to expand the team as our goal is to fill over 125 positions within the next year, of which a significant portion will be in Atlanta.
What types of companies make up your core customer base?
Our customer base is quite diverse – when we initially started, we knew we would have an opportunity to make some noise within the SMB segment. As we’ve grown and developed our product, we’ve seen strong market demand across both size and industry. For our larger enterprise customers, we offer a highly configurable product that can solve complex requirements across applications while bolstering risk/compliance programs. For our SMB customers, our low total cost of ownership and ability to scale with their growth helps us stand out while still being able to meet their risk and compliance needs. And for industries, whether you’re a healthcare company looking to meet HIPAA requirements, a fintech company complying with GDPR, or a public retail company dealing with SOX, our products and solutions can meet your access certification needs.
How has it been building a cybersecurity team in Atlanta?
It’s been an incredible experience. For context, most of our internal growth has come post-COVID, so we’ve certainly had our share of challenges and learnings while growing a team under these circumstances. When it comes to Atlanta, we couldn’t be happier to be based here. Atlanta is clearly evolving into a tech hub to be reckoned with, and we’re thrilled to even be part of the broader Atlanta startup conversation. There’s a deep talent pool to tap into across expertise levels whether it’s stellar recent graduates from local colleges to seasoned executives with startup or Fortune 500 experience. We look forward to growing with the city for years to come.