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Building a Mid-Market Cyber Security Company from Utah: Peter Bookman, CEO of Guard Dog (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, Jan 14th 2022

Sramana Mitra: Not only that, it addresses my next question. The enterprise CISO right now is so overwhelmed. For a startup, to get an audience with an enterprise CISO has become almost impossible. There are the known players, but that’s about it. When it comes to the new players, they have to go through somebody. Mid-market doesn’t have that level of crowdedness.

Peter Bookman: Speaking specifically for cyber security, that ended up being what we drafted into. Listening is a very important skill. Always be quick to adapt. There was an interesting gap. Mid-market and small don’t tend to have CISO’s. They can’t afford them. I could go to the enterprise, but it’s uphill. They have a lot to manage.

The mid-market tends to outsource. That’s fairly common. In the enterprise, we got the opportunity to talk to a lot of Fortune 100’s. There’s the challenge of work-from-home. There’s an IT phrase that says if I touch it, then I have to manage it. They don’t want to manage my kid’s Xbox, but they do want to manage the device I sent you that is vulnerable to the network. That’s why it’s very common for IT organizations to say, “Here’s your laptop, but don’t connect to a public WiFi.” Surely, we can do better. That says a lot about the state of the union for device management.

There are other technologies that are coming about. As an example, an audit for a mid-tier insurance company. They pay roughly $45,000 per office per quarter. Part of that story that gets interesting is they get this report and it takes roughly two quarters for the vulnerabilities to be fixed. They’re constantly two quarters behind. Even for the big companies, they still have to keep track of this stuff. I have to let 400 potential incidences go by for the one that’s high risk.

Sramana Mitra: Is this the use case that you went after – the audit?

Peter Bookman: Yes, it didn’t have the Guard Dog name until we formally incorporated it in August 2019. I and people who worked with me under many umbrellas had applied the technology we were doing in stuff like a mid-market timeshare hotel where they were not aware of what was going on in their WiFi. We had consulted with them to tell them what’s going on in their network. We applied this technology to that. It appeared more like consulting, but it was SaaS-like. We only have to fund the hardware. Now we can apply that to being able to just charge monthly to react to anything that’s going on as well as provide advice.

One of the things that stood out that we learned was when it’s supervised learning, it would come to us and say, “Hey, there’s something going on.” We would go look. We wouldn’t know what it was either. We would be able to call up there and say, “Are you experiencing performance issues?” We could see where it’s originating. As it was learning and developing, really interesting things began to happen.

It really wasn’t until 2019 when we really said, “Let’s take what’s effectively a consulting managed service provider model and see if we can create more of an ecosystem that can revolve around this and have the applicability for other MSP’s or IT organizations. Regardless of how the bad actor gets in, we have very sophisticated attack models taking place. Being able to protect against that is a particularly fun challenge that we’re excited about.

In 2019, we patented some of these technologies. Before that, it was more of a consulting thing. We expanded and have people go out to see if we can take the consulting and see if there’s a lot more that looks like that. We have grown our funnel exponentially. I still refer to our product as beta because of the operational matters we need to fill in. Otherwise, the technology has been applied.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Building a Mid-Market Cyber Security Company from Utah: Peter Bookman, CEO of Guard Dog
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