Announcing the eCISO Cybersecurity Accelerator for Growth-Stage Startups

Jeff Kohrman
Aug 19 · 9 min read

Today, August 19, 2019, we are thrilled to announce the general availability of our equity-free startup accelerator program for early and growth-stage companies.

Text stating, “Apply to the accelerator, now accepting applications to our startup security accelerator program.”
Text stating, “Apply to the accelerator, now accepting applications to our startup security accelerator program.”

The program is open to all early and growth-stage startups that want to take control of their security practices by building a mature, scalable security program and hire their first security leader within the next six quarters.

What is the security accelerator program?

The eCISO security accelerator is a learning program designed to help companies move faster and be successful earlier because of security. Participants engage with a dedicated leadership mentor and virtual Chief Information Security Officer (or vCISO) to fast-track building a pragmatic security program that fits their company’s needs and culture — complete with plain language policies and security documentation.

Participants will have the opportunity to build their internal security program to meet their industry standards, develop a positive culture with security in mind, and grow to support a seasoned CISO or Head of Security to maintain security as their strategic market advantage.

Through the program, our advisors help your company’s leadership team position security as a business enabler to unlock new markets, close larger deals, and take the right risks to unlock your startup’s potential.

Who is the accelerator program open to?

The startup security accelerator program is open to any early or growth-stage companies that are pre-Series C, are less than 5 years old, and have not hired their first security leader. Startups must be located in the United States, and should be prepared to hire one or more employees with a security focus within the next 12 to 14 months.

Do I have to have a security startup?

Not at all! We believe that security should be accessible to everyone, especially if it’s not what your company is focused on day-to-day. The startup security accelerator program is open to early or growth-stage companies in any industry, typically with funding rounds from Seed to pre-Series C.

How do I apply to the accelerator program?

Fill in the application form here to apply to the accelerator program, and we’ll get back to you within 3 business days. We speak with every startup that applies, but only three applicants (maximum) will be accepted in this first public cohort.

The application review process comes in three stages: application review, founder interviews, and an in-person workshop (what we call the Pre-Assessment). You must pass each stage successfully to be accepted into the accelerator program.


Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about the eCISO security accelerator program? Here are some common questions we’ve heard from other participants.

About the accelerator program.

What is the eCISO Security Accelerator Program?

The eCISO Accelerator Program is a learning program for growth-stage startups who want to take control of their company’s cyber security practices by building a mature, scalable security program within the next six quarters. Participants are typically prepared to support and hire their own security leader (Head of Security/CISO) within 12 to 16 months.

What do I get from the accelerator program?

Companies in the cyber security startup accelerator program get access to a dedicated strategic advisor and seasoned security leadership. During the program, we give you your own vCISO and security mentor to help your leadership team build a pragmatic security-minded culture in your company. We also help you build and maintain the security documentation you need to close larger deals faster.

We help you set and implement your security strategy to make security your strategic market advantage, and help you find, hire and retain your own security leader to replace us. Companies also gain access to exclusive eCISO services including our network of security-conscientious Venture Capital firms, security advisors and technology partners.

How many startups are accepted in each cohort?

We intentionally keep our cohorts small to devote the same amount of time to each startup in the program. Each quarter, we may accept up to 3 new startups to participate in a batch, but we will never have more than 7 startups in the program at one time.

Where is the accelerator program based geographically?

We are proud to be founded in Utah’s Silicon Slopes, but we operate the accelerator program remotely and accept legally registered businesses from anywhere in the United States.

Who is a good fit for the accelerator program?

We review applications from all early and growth-stage startups, but the eCISO Security Accelerator Program is best suited for companies that:

  • Have less than 3 (including none) employees dedicated to security.
  • Are willing and able to commit to hiring a security leader within 18 months.
  • Recognize that security can be a significant differentiator in their market.

We typically ask that applicants either have existing annual revenue between $250,000 — $500,000, or have received funding of at least $500,000. Exceptions to this requirement may be made on a case-by-case basis, however, we do not work with companies where accelerator fees are a significant burden to their ability to operate.

Getting into the accelerator program.

When does the accelerator program start?

The accelerator program runs on a quarterly cycle with monthly rolling admissions, with this first public cohort beginning on October 1st, 2019. Applicants are reviewed and accepted or rejected at least twice each calendar month. There is no penalty for applying late in a quarter.

How long does the accelerator program last?

The program lasts for 18 months from the close of the pre-assessment if you are accepted, or two months after you hire your full-time CISO (whichever happens sooner). We stay in touch (at our expense) even after you’ve graduated from our program to make sure you have the resources you need to stay successful.

How do I apply for the accelerator program?

To apply to the eCISO accelerator program, fill out the application form here or send a note to accelerator@eciso.io to schedule an interview. Don’t worry, we’re friendly — we just need to learn more about your business to determine how prepared you are to commit to security.

What happens after I submit my application?

We have three layers of review and acceptance criteria to participate in the accelerator: the application review, founder interviews, and the pre-assessment workshop. You must pass each stage successfully to be enrolled in the accelerator program.

Applications and any documentation you’ve shared with us are reviewed within one week of submission. After that, we’ll schedule a short interview with you (the company’s founders / CEO) over the phone or video chat. You should set aside about an hour for this interview.

Once your application has been approved, it’s time to begin the pre-assessment. This is done over the next 6 weeks (virtually and in-person) to evaluate your company culture and current security practices against your risks. This phase involves interviewing most — if not all — of your employees. You should expect to spend between 2 and 3 hours each week during the pre-assessment.

If you successfully pass the pre-assessment, you’ll be approved! Approved startups are enrolled in the accelerator program in the order they are received.

Six weeks is a long time — What do I get out of the pre-assessment?

The goal of the pre-assessment is to understand what your security goals are and the biggest risks standing in your way. This gives us a chance to see how prepared your company is to support a security program in the next 12 to 18 months — both technically and culturally. We always share our findings with you as a third-party risk assessment, with an initial roadmap so that you can track your progress towards your goals.

If your startup successfully passes the pre-assessment, you will be accepted and enrolled in the accelerator program. In the event that the pre-assessment finds that you do not qualify for the accelerator program, we will provide you with a roadmap with recommendations for steps you can take to qualify in the future, along with introductions (and discounts) to service providers that can support you in the interim.

What happens if I don’t pass the pre-assessment?

There’s no penalty to you if the pre-assessment finds that your company does not qualify for the security accelerator program. Startups that have applied, but did not qualify at first can apply again as early as the next quarter with a discounted pre-assessment fee of $11,480.

Even if you don’t pass this phase of the application, we’ll still provide you with your third-party risk assessment and roadmap to make the changes necessary to qualify in the future (and improve your security posture). We’ll also connect you with other service providers (with discounts!) that can help you improve your security posture in the interim.

Accelerator program costs.

How much does it cost to join the accelerator program?

There is no charge to apply to the eCISO startup security accelerator program, but we do require modest fees to cover our time investment during the pre-assessment (once your application has been reviewed and approved), as well as a monthly fee throughout the duration of the accelerator program.

Pre-assessment fees: The pre-assessment is $14,360 and does not include travel expenses and related fees that may apply. This fee is non-refundable and due immediately upon the close of the pre-assessment of your company.

Accelerator fees: Participation in the accelerator program is $8,500 monthly for the duration of the program and does not include travel expenses and related fees that may apply. These fees are non-refundable and are due upon receipt of your monthly invoice.

Will you take any equity or ownership of my business?

Not at all! Our program is an equity-free accelerator — We do not accept equity in exchange for participating in the accelerator program. Our fees cover our expenses in delivering services to you. We want to help you grow your business, not keep your equity for ourselves.

Can I pay my fees annually (or some other payment arrangement)?

No, but we do occasionally make exceptions. Please contact us at accelerator@eciso.io explaining your situation and we will see if we can accommodate you.

If I leave the program before graduating, can I get a refund?

We do not provide refunds for the program fees. There is a 30% early termination fee for participants who choose to leave the program or are dismissed prior to the completion of their accelerator term.

Graduating from the accelerator program.

How long does it take to complete the program?

Graduating from the accelerator program means that you have successfully hired your full-time security leader. How long this takes depends on what changes you are able to make in your business (among other factors).

The current average is 14 months to get your company ready to support a CISO or Head of Security with a successful hire of your security leader within 16 months. The remaining months are used to transition your security program to your new CISO.

I’ve completed the program and hired my CISO, now what?

Congratulations! Now that you’ve hired your Chief Security Officer, we’ll work with you (and them) to provide a smooth transition from your advisor and virtual CISO to your own security leader. You’ll also keep your access to our partner network indefinitely.

If I graduate early, what happens to the rest of my accelerator fees?

If you make substantial progress and successfully hire your Chief Security Officer before 12 months, your program term will continue for 2 months after the start date of your security leader to give them a frictionless onboarding experience and transition responsibilities. No early termination fees will apply in this scenario, and you’re still welcome to leverage our partner network.


Ready to learn more?

Good security is the one thing that can set your company apart from your competition that you have complete control over. Our accelerator is designed to make security accessible to companies that are ready to use it.

eCISO — Security for Startups logotype and slogan
eCISO — Security for Startups logotype and slogan

Questions or comments? Ready to get started now?

Drop us a note at accelerator@eciso.io or click here to apply to the accelerator program today!

eCISO - Security for Startups

We make security accessible for growth-stage companies and the humans that lead them. eCISO is a security consulting firm that provides a startup accelerator program, with additional services for advisory boards and venture capital firms.

Jeff Kohrman

Written by

Jeff is a cybersecurity veteran with a passion for making security accessible to early and growth-stage startups.

eCISO - Security for Startups

We make security accessible for growth-stage companies and the humans that lead them. eCISO is a security consulting firm that provides a startup accelerator program, with additional services for advisory boards and venture capital firms.

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