Why We Invested — Spec

Cyber Mentor Fund
4 min readAug 17, 2022

Creating a smarter, safer internet powered by unified data, tools, and teams.

The global cybercrime proceeds from fraud, identity theft, and scams are estimated to be in the hundreds of billions USD. The shift to online commerce coupled with the availability of easy-to-use attack tools has created the perfect storm for bad actors. Creating a frictionless customer experience can cost online brands millions of dollars and can take months for teams to respond to evolving attacks.

The founders at Spec knew that in order to create a frictionless customer experience, online brands needed access to a trust platform that wouldn’t deplete them of their time or resources. Their platform, the Trust Cloud, automatically collects and unifies the users trust, fraud, and payments data into a single source of truth. The Trust Cloud offers a completely no-code platform that deploys invisibly in front of a website or API in less than 15 minutes, without requiring engineer teams to lift a finger. Teams can instantly respond to insights, automate workflows, and integrate solutions that effortlessly ensure the delivery of powerful online experiences that are frictionless and secure.

The global fraud prevention and detection market is expected to grow to $129.17B in 2029. Now more than ever security teams are looking for solutions that make securing trust on the internet easy, seamless, and extensible.

Spec is led by a wonderful team with deep domain expertise and industry knowledge that they gained during their time at eBay. We are thrilled to be part of Spec’s game-changing approach to creating a safer customer experience for any online brand. Cyber Mentor Fund invested in Spec alongside Rally Ventures, SignalFire, Dreamit Ventures, and Legion Capital.

Read the Q&A below with Spec Co-Founder and CEO, Nate Kharrl, as he dives into the details behind the company’s recent changes and their next stage of growth. Spec recently announced the company’s name change from SpecTrust to Spec, a powerful new platform feature to help online businesses fight cybercrime, and the closing of additional funding.

Where does the name Spec come from and what was the decision behind changing it from SpecTrust?

Spec was the name we initially selected for the name of the company, but we initially appended “Trust” to the name in order to be unambiguous about what we do. We wouldn’t realize it until much later, but as customers started socializing our platform internally as a means to transform the way teams collaborate to deliver secure frictionless experiences, our name actually gave the wrong impression that teams in payments, security, risk, and digital experience were merely guests on a fraud product, not equal collaborators. We simplified the company name to Spec in order to better fit our mission to unlock collaboration that secures frictionless digital experiences.

What core problem does your platform, the Trust Cloud, solve?

In a given enterprise, about a half-dozen teams need to work together to keep frictionless online experiences safe from fraudsters, scammers, and policy abusers. The status quo is that it takes months for these teams to respond to evolving attacks that take minutes for bad actors to change. Our platform makes it effortless for these teams to collaborate in minutes instead of months, all without them having to write any code. Ever.

How does the new ‘Insights’ feature function within the Trust Cloud?

Our platform collects, links, and analyzes data from every user interaction across a domain, including websites and APIs. Our Insights feature automatically surfaces strategic information about emerging attack patterns, rising customer friction, conversion issues, and abnormal user behavior. This allows teams to get an immediate view of what’s new and important on their digital properties without having to wait on the longer information cycles coming from finance, customer service, or e-commerce teams.

What was the clear gap you identified in the market for Spec?

The top 5 online brands each spend hundreds of millions of dollars on their overall Trust programs, with a proprietary unified trust platform in the center of it all. These giants make up less than 0.1% of all online brands. Everyone else falls into a pattern of fighting fires, waiting on siloed data, and fixing point-problems with a growing pile of hard-to-manage point solutions. These enterprise brands have never seen a trust platform in action and even if they had, they could never prioritize the time and budget to build one of their own. We knew if we could make a trust platform that any online brand could use, we could drive transformational change in how these brands offer frictionless experiences to their good users and then boldly grow their business without fearing fraud risk.

How has the fraud landscape changed over the years?

We’re entering our third decade of fraud detection and prevention technologies, and now is as exciting as ever. The explosion of post-COVID online commerce coupled with a generation of digital natives struggling to participate in a changing economy creates a perfect storm of motivated, adaptable bad actors in a victim-rich environment. You can find fraud tutorials on Youtube and buy cloud-based attack-tools with bitcoin. This is making it harder than ever for brands to engage with consumers during a transformative time where the household brand names of the 2020s are being established.

What advice would you offer other founders that are currently fundraising?

Joining the chorus of people who gave us the same advice: fundraising is about raising money, sure, but in the early days of your company it’s equally important that you’re building relationships with experienced company-builders that will guide you along your growth path.