Cyber incubator DataTribe brought two out-of-state cyber companies into Maryland, with the promise of mentorship and $2 million in seed funding. Now, those companies are plotting how they plan to use the money to grow their businesses locally and nationally.
Karim Hijazi, founder and CEO of Prevailion, said he only incorporated his company a few months ago. He came across Fulton’s DataTribe through Mike Janke, one of its co-founders, and quickly decided that its model of combining investment and incubation services was a good fit for him.
DataTribe works in partnership with venture firm AllegisCyber to provide mentorship and funding support to companies spun out of the federal intelligence sector. The organization hopes to build more commercial cyber companies in Maryland. Earlier this year it hosted a funding competition aimed at finding more promising cyber startups that could come into the region and create jobs.
Hijazi, whose company will now operate in both Maryland and Texas, said he plans to use the seed funding from DataTribe to hire. Prevailion plans to grow from two full-time employees to about 12 within the coming year, Hijazi said.
“Hiring the right talent will be our biggest use of the funds, that’s the most important focus for us right now,” he said. “And we’re making a concerted effort to hire from Maryland because of the talent there. It’s a phenomenal resource pool, especially with the people coming from the intelligence community, and DataTribe has a lot of great connections that can help us.”
Hijazi’s company specializes in threat detection within the technology supply chain. For example, Prevailion could help a business to ensure that none of its suppliers or partners are affected by cyber breaches that could ultimately affect the primary company.
The other cyber competition winner, Inertial Sense, will also be growing its team using the seed funds. The company is from Utah.
CEO Brian Cahoon said he expects to grow his team from five full-time employees to more than 10 this year. The company will also use the funding to ramp its commercialization and sales efforts around its product. Cahoon said he is glad to now have a presence on the East Coast, and greater access to potential new hires and customers there. He said he’s unsure how many people will be based in Maryland.
Inertial Sense has developed a sensor that can help improve GPS accuracy in environments where signals can get degraded. Cahoon said the tool could have applications in drones, robotics and driverless automobiles.
Both Cahoon and Hijazi lauded DataTribe’s approach to funding and company building as unique in the cyber space. Hijazi said he has worked with other investors in his career and is familiar with the traditional incubator model — but DataTribe isn’t that.
“They’ve been able to compile this great brain trust of really qualified people, with great connections, and are making legitimate investments,” Hijazi said. “It would be great to see others look at their model and build on it.”