enterprisesecuritymag

Mitigating Cybersecurity Risks

Giuseppe Donvito, Partner, P101 Ventures ("P101")

1) What sort of opportunities does P101 target?

P101 is an early and late-stage venture firm based in Milan(Italy) that invests mainly across Europe in fast growing technology companies with ambitious and strong management. P101 team’s strong technical background and entrepreneurial and operational experience is crucial and supportive for our portfolio companies in terms of value generation and growth acceleration.

"in today’s world, the diversity and complexity of interconnected systems is growing fast, and so attack surfaces are increasing quicker than most businesses can effectively secure"

The firm focuses on digital and technology sectors generally, including B2B software (AI/Big Data, cybersecurity, fintech), health-tech, consumer (marketplaces, e-commerce), ed-tech.

If you have a startup in one of these areas, we would love to chat!

2) Why is P101 interested in cybersecurity?

When analyzing new firms to invest in, I always match a macro with a micro view; the macro positive trend in cybersecurity is clear because – as Deloitte says: “the coronavirus pandemic has created new challenges for businesses as they adapt to an operating model in which working from home has become the ‘new normal’. Companies are accelerating their digital transformation, and cybersecurity is now a major concern. The reputational, operational, legal and compliance implications could be considerable if cybersecurity risks are neglected”.

In the cyber industry something unique is happening: in today’s world, the diversity and complexity of interconnected systems is growing fast, and so attack surfaces are increasing quicker than most businesses can effectively secure. When you consider the existing solutions not being fully used, how much enterprises are now willing to spend on security (more than ever), and the cyclical nature of the industry, it’s easy to see why as a VC we have an interest in this industry. An industry that, by nature, is poised to continue on forever, always trying to catch up, is perfect for investors.

3) On the cybersecurity front what subsectors has P101 explored?

Let’s start from where we have invested; these are our existing portfolio companies:

Keyless (keyless.io), representing next-gen privacy-preserving biometrics to protect workforce and consumers with password less MFA and realize the journey to zero trust. Keyless offers a sophisticated solution that ultimately helps authentication and identity management providers put the user and their privacy first. Embracing biometric technology that utilises a distributed cloud network not only helps organisations eliminate fraud, phishing and account takeover threats, it also ensures that sensitive biometric information is never at risk of being lost, stolen or mishandled.

Cyber guru (www.cyberguru.eu), a leading Cyber Security Awareness Training platform.

Founded in 2017, Cyber Guru’s mission is to increase employee knowledge around information security. Despite the advancements in cybersecurity technology, the “human factor” is still one of the primary vectors cybercriminals use to attack an organisation. According to the IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020, 24 percent of data breaches are caused by human error, costing $3.9 million on average to remediate and 280 days to resolve.

Appquality (www.app-quality.com),the Italian platform leader in digital crowd testing, including cybersecurity testing.
Since 2015, AppQuality has been helping enterprises improve the quality and the UX of their apps, websites, chatbots, IoT devices, e-commerce platforms, and cybersecurity, through the Crowd testing methodology. This innovative method brings real end-users and bug finders into the development process by making them the testersof companies’ digital products. The quick, reliable and uninfluenced feedbacks of the testers are collected and analysed by the AppQuality team, then translated into actionable to-dos to the clients’ marketing and dev teams.

In the last years we have analysed several companies in the sector, ranging from penetration testing, cloud security, IoT security, etc. We don’t have specific “infatuation” with one or more subsectors; we do our Due Diligence and when we find the right target we invest.

3) What advice do you have to founders in the cybersecurity space?

Try to stay humble and really understand what having a VC in your cap table means. The cybersecurity sector is growing significantly and there is massive fragmentation; this can lead to high competition, so in order to be attractive for a VC, startups need to tackle large markets or multiple markets

If you are in B2B the risk of long sales cycles has to be managed, both from a business standpoint and financially

Don’t fall in love with your product; always challenge all the assumptions and understand where the product-market fit is!

Networking is crucial: with corporates, other startups, investors, M&A, banks, etc. Try to capture the latest trends, who is who in the industry

If you are venture backed don’t be shy to ask your VC for help in any shape or form (M&A, hiring, operation, etc): I personally love to help founders and add value where I can bring missing skills.

Give priority to highly recurring revenues so your business can be predictable and stable.

Build your equity story but be ready to add something new as the cyber space is in continuous evolution

Like other software industries, the cybersecurity sector is evolving and several trends are impacting it like the “move to the cloud”, more interconnected devices, AI and blockchain, API, Minimum Viable Products, etc. As founder, you need to foresee these trends, as your company can be disrupted by other startups.

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