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Building a Mid-Market Cyber Security Company from Utah: Peter Bookman, CEO of Guard Dog (Part 6)

Posted on Saturday, Jan 15th 2022

Sramana Mitra: In that funnel, you’re leading with audits?

Peter Bookman: Often. When you know the consultants are saying, “It’s $25,000 to come in and take my laptop and walk through your halls. I’m going to connect to your network and produce a report that you’re going to do something with.” The report is going to create a risk profile without a score.

If you happen to be doing that, we can come and, for a fraction of the cost, we can provide that same information and also semi real-time. You can get that same visibility and one more important thing, which is the ability to interrupt an attempted exploit. Whether that’s us, MSP, or a CISO, that’s very dependent on the organization. Each one has its own preferred means of escalation and dealing with things.

We’re excited about how this impacts the whole marketplace. The mid-market just extended out of the consulting side of things. As we incorporated, we honed how to simply deploy it. Anyone else can do it. We made tweaks. We were going to be a SaaS business, especially the managed detection response. If anybody tries to exploit those vulnerabilities, we are now hyperaware. There’s a device watching and learning, and has awareness.

Sramana Mitra: One of the most insightful things I heard in the story is taking a new product into market through that mid-market. I’ve had lots of conversations on various cyber security investors and entrepreneurs. There’s a real issue of not being able to get into the enterprise right now because of the crowdedness. Going into the mid-market is a strategy that is currently still possible.

Cyber security is a very entrepreneurship-heavy sector of the startup universe. I was talking to Warren Weiss. He used to be at Foundation Capital. He was saying, “Just get the product done. Get a little bit of proof point and then just sell it to a larger company.” Getting to enterprise is just not viable right now.

Peter Bookman: I’m in the habit of not counting my chickens before they hatch, but I will absolutely tend to the eggs. This zero-day concept is great. It is comforting. One of the largest cyber security managed detection vendors in the world comes from the device management of things. They applied it in a way that they’re the leader in zero-day common vulnerability and exploit.

Take AI and feed it. Can we learn faster what zero-day is and proliferate that faster using consultants? Also, can we take a different approach and say, “What if we focus on that interruption point?” If we’re focusing on how to interrupt, it allows for the AI to have time. It’s not like the quarantine notion. It’s more like, “I’m on a network and going to take a simple concept, namely: for any transaction to occur, it takes a given amount of time. It happens to be very fast.”

An average attack will take two to five seconds. At least, the first part does. On a network level, you can identify potential exploits based upon existing ones and then interrupt them using network concepts before two seconds take place. If it’s a danger, we refer to that as there is an attempted exploit taking place or a suspected something taking place. Do you want to interrupt it and notify somebody? Who do you want to notify? For the mid-market, it’s good timing. I like that you’re calling attention to that.

Sramana Mitra: Everything has a timing. Markets remain open. It’s a blue ocean strategy now. Are you self-funding this company?

Peter Bookman: We closed our A round sometime around July 2020. It was similar. We’ve had some wonderful funding partners – not venture in this case. More private equity.

Sramana Mitra: That’s a new trend too – family offices are getting into direct venture capital.

Peter Bookman: I can’t speak for that except for in my case. Many of the people involved had history with this. One of my partners, Adrian, has had a lot of public exits from a financing side of things. Coming to gray hairs and seasoned veterans, it’s nice. I’m humbled. I look forward to any follow-up because I’m seasoned enough to be good at what I do.

It makes my life easier when the structure is being set by somebody who has a lot of relationships and has done a lot of different structures through the years. It’s really handy. If I were a new entrepreneur, you’re out of your mind if you’re not doing an incubator. You need a way to tap in to people who can guide you and have CMO-level stuff.

Sramana Mitra: It has become complicated. There are so many areas and structures. Structures are changing. Your point is well taken that if you’re a first-time entrepreneur in a complex market, it’s better to work with people who have some idea of how to get into this market.

It was a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Building a Mid-Market Cyber Security Company from Utah: Peter Bookman, CEO of Guard Dog
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