My friend Stephan and I used to work on random projects late into the school night. Dreaming of becoming the next Gates or Zuckerberg, we spent long hours in front of our computers coding what we thought would be the “next big thing.” I’ve always been fascinated with startups, but I wasn’t committed to the path until I met Frank, the director of the Cybersecurity Factory accelerator, at a Georgia Tech seminar. He gave an introduction of the program and their mentor network was one of the strongest I’ve seen. Convinced, Stephan and I both graduated soon afterwards and moved to Boston to get started.
Our startup was the youngest of the four teams in both age and progress. We came in with an idea, a scalable blockchain technology, and rough prototype. Although the technology involved was promising, we didn’t know the purpose of the technology. We were a solution looking for a problem.
It was a wakeup call when people were confused on the marketable purpose of what seemed like a research project. Scrambling to readjust, we met with many different industry figures and investors, made possible by our mentors and director. Product-market fit was eye-opening as we ended up iterating and pivoting multiple times to address our issues. We made the rookie mistake of developing while researching and ended up scrapping a few codebases as we switched focus.
The accelerator offered a breadth of resources and connections to get us off the ground. Monthly mock board meetings with Highland Capital forced us to address tough questions. Weekly meetings with mentors and investors shaped our path forward. The teams were invited to attend the Blackhat conference in Vegas and LogMeIn headquarter in Boston to learn how businesses in this sector gain traction. Slowly, one of our ideas gathered steam.
Our company, Flare, tracks and analyzes software supply chains. We aggregate information about the software modules/libraries that an organization imports and exports along with how they are used internally. The platform helps enterprises find and visualize conflicts, vulnerabilities, and inefficiencies. With a more specific course of action in mind, we continuously worked on market fit and reached out to industry veterans to refine our approach.
Since the end of the accelerator in September, we have gained additional funding and worked with our alpha customers on deploying our product. We’ve been in touch with companies around the country for potential customers and partnerships.
An entrepreneur’s perspective is difficult to teach; it has to be experienced. There are many roles that the founders have to fill. I learned to be flexible and be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Overall, going through the accelerator has been an invaluable experience. With the guidance and network of Cybersecurity Factory, we have been given the best chance of success.