NuCypher | Startup In Focus

It’s body armor for data!

Our Startup In Focus series takes a look at the founders behind the startups, as they offer insight into their business and their journey to current day. There is a short 2 minute video interview followed by a more in depth text interview below. Hope you enjoy it and do leave any comments below.


Our first interview is with MacLane Wilkison, co founder and CEO of SF based cyber security startup, NuCypher.

Can you give me a bit of background to yourself?

I’m a software engineer and previously covered tech, media, and telecoms at Morgan Stanley. My co founder, Michael, is a physicist and scientist from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology who previously built infrastructure tools at LinkedIn.

Tell us what is NuCypher:

NuCypher is a security and encryption platform for distributed systems, including big data, cloud, IoT, and blockchain. It’s body armor for data.

What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?

It’s hard to point to any one thing, although I think most challenges can be traced back to a root cause, which (most) every startup is operating under, significant resource constraints. It’s hard to square that with the reality of long, complex enterprise sales cycles, the need to quickly iterate on the product and meet customers’ feature requests as well as building your team.

How are you overcoming this challenge?

Ruthless prioritization.

Startups are full of ups & downs, what pushes you through those downs?

Two things. Figuring out how to protect data in distributed environments is an extremely challenging, important, and engaging problem. And, as an engineer, our proxy re-encryption technology is extremely elegant and exciting.

What have been your biggest achievements since launching NuCypher?

There’s been a bunch of highlights. Getting into Y Combinator and raising our seed round. Launching on-stage at TechCrunch Disrupt. Releasing some of our tech under an open source license and seeing the reaction and excitement of the software development community. And of course landing our first big enterprise customer.

What have your customers taught you?

Everything. The cliché is that no business plan survives first contact with customers. From day one in our product development phase, we focused on validating anything we built against customer requirements and what we have today is largely shaped by them.

How did you find your first full time employee?

Michael and I have a long history in the open source world, and parts of our current product are open sourced as well. We were able to source our early employees from engineers who discovered us and had a pre-existing interest in our technology.

What’s next for NuCypher?

We’re adding support for blockchain and decentralized applications.

Great, thanks MacLane!

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