MACH37: Launching New Cyber Start-Ups Reach Escape Velocity

By Tom Weithman, CIT GAP Funds

To know MACH37 is to know something about the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) and CIT GAP Funds.  A Virginia-backed non-profit based in Herndon, Virginia CIT and its venture investment arm, CIT GAP Funds, provide seed and early stage equity capital to the Commonwealth’s  most promising start-ups in the tech, clean tech and life science industries.  Since the launch of GAP Fund I in 2005, CIT GAP Funds has invested in over 150 Virginia companies, syndicating deals with a “who’s who” of the venture capital world and creating significant economic development benefits for the region.  Recently recognized by CBI as Virginia’s most active VC, CIT GAP Funds has found particularly fertile ground in the Washington Metro region’s cybersecurity asset base, providing critical early stage funding to high-growth cybersecurity start-ups such as Invincea, Distil Networks and ThreatQuotient.

Building on the work of CIT GAP Funds, CIT formed MACH37 in the Spring, 2013 as the nation’s first accelerator focused exclusively on the formation and development of information security companies.  MACH37 runs two cohorts per year – one in the Spring and again in the Fall. To concentrate maximum energy and resources on each carefully screened company, MACH37 keeps class size deliberately small.  Each of the 5-6 companies selected per class – sourced from around the world — receive a $50K seed equity investment and benefit from a structured curriculum of entrepreneurial education delivered by the MACH37 team in conjunction with leading service providers

Complementing the work of the MACH37 partners is the MACH37 STARS Mentor Network.  This network, consisting of over 200 seasoned professionals drawn from government, industry and the venture world.  Steeped in the cybersecurity industry, STARS Mentors provide MACH37 portfolio entrepreneurs with turn-key access to potential co-founders and would-be advisors, management team members and early customers.  When classes are in session, this group gathers weekly with MACH37 portfolio CEOs at MACH37’s Leadership Dinner series.

Deriving its name from the velocity that a moving body must achieve to escape the earth’s gravitational pull,  MACH37 has more than lived up to its moniker.  Begun as a public initiative underwritten by the Commonwealth of Virginia, MACH37 has gained vigorous private support from corporate sponsors such as General Dynamics, Amazon and SAP.   Since inception, MACH37 has helped start and grow 40 new cybersecurity companies through 6 cohort classes.  And through the work of the STARS Network, MACH37 has forged a true community of stakeholders in the entrepreneurial cybersecurity process; a community that will prove invaluable in both building MACH37 portfolio value, and in guiding the future of the region’s cybersecurity industry.

With extensive reach into hacker, academic, government and industry security communities, MACH37 has established itself as the “go-to” resource for cybersecurity entrepreneurs, corporate customers seeking to keep abreast of emerging trends and early stage investors looking for the next big thing in cybersecurity.

The team at MACH37 believes that one of these next big things is MACH37 graduate Virgil Security.  Graduated from MACH37 in the Fall of 2014 MACH37, offers an easy to use platform that provides privacy and security for applications, cloud services, and the internet of things. The company’s encryption libraries and services, along with an accompanying public key management infrastructure effectively turns every software developer into an applied cryptologist.  Virgil has received strong validation by both customers and the venture capital community through it recent partnership with Twilio and Series A financing led by KEC Ventures.

The next set of graduates poised to follow in Virgil’s footsteps, MACH37 are the members of the members of Fall, 2016 class:

Adlumin (Alexandria, VA)

Adlumin provides an industry leading solution to detect attacks, in real-time, that would otherwise go undetected.  After attackers have defeated initial defenses, Adlumin implements intelligent user behavior analytics and active defense mechanisms to detect and deter adversaries.  http://www.adlumin.com/

Intelligence Framework (Barcelona, Spain)

INFRA automates vulnerability scanning and other elements of vulnerability assessment.  INFA offers multi-lingual reporting capability and plans for full integration with external solutions for vulnerability scanning, application firewall and authentication.  https://www.infrascan.net/

NS8 (Las Vegas, NV)

NS8 offers advanced solutions for attack detection and prevention.  NS8 solutions are powered by a robust traffic management platform that provides unique visibility and prevention capabilities over fraud and traffic based attacks. https://www.ns8.com/

Steel Mountain (London, U.K.)

Steel Mountain provides solutions for the home that prevent viruses and other threats from entering the home and compromising personal data. Steel Mountain’s device plugs into the existing home router, placing threat detection and prevention the gateway of the home network. https://steelmountain.io

ThreatSwitch (Charlottes, NC)

Delivering “a TurboTax for industrial security,” the Threatswitch compliance solution simplifies entry and management of complex information, automates key workflows, and provides on-demand access to experts for the 15,000 companies that have a federal security clearance and must adhere to strict federal rules or risk losing their federal revenue. http://threatswitch.com/

For a first look at these companies, MACH37 welcome all accredited investors to its next Demo Day event scheduled for Tuesday, December 6th in Herndon, Virginia.