Interview with Jose Monteagudo, CEO of Smartrev Cybersec and Chief Editor of the Cyber Startup Observatory

Jose Monteagudo from the Cyber Startup Observatory is one of the jury members of the startup contest Lion’s Den at Command Control. We spoke with him about the opportunities of cybersecurity for startups.

First of all, could you provide a short overview on the work of the Cyber Startup Observatory and Smartrev Cybersec?

Monteagudo: The Cyber Startup Observatory is a global initiative to connect leading edge cybersecurity startups with key decision makers across all industries. We want to help entrepreneurs grow their business globally and at the same time provide tools to major industries and governments to address important cybersecurity challenges.

Smartrev Cybersec is the Editor of the Cyber Startup Observatory but also an innovation consultancy specialized in cybersecurity. We help our customers to understand the state of the art in cybersecurity across 20 different markets.

Why is cybersecurity a promising field for founders?

Monteagudo: The digital transformation that is taking place across major industries brings tremendous opportunities to improve customer experience, drive profitability and to give speed to the business. Unfortunately, new threats arise due to a substantial increase in the attack surface. This situation creates massive opportunities for startups and established cybersecurity companies helping to address these challenges.

How important are startups for an efficient cybersecurity landscape? With view to all the existing security providers why is there a need for startups?

Monteagudo: Considering that the threat landscape is quickly evolving, cybersecurity startups play a crucial role. The situation now is asymmetric with the bad guys innovating faster than existing players. Our only option are startups as they might equilibrate the equation.

What must a startup be like to be successful?

Monteagudo: We see four elements that are key for success:

  • People: the founder skillset is going to be instrumental as well as the first 10 recruits. Talent is going to be a distinctive competitive advantage / disadvantage.
  • Product: very innovative solution being the first to address a problem or doing it substantially better than existing providers if any.
  • Market: choose carefully the right verticals and the DNA of the perfect prospect, the low hanging fruits and focus resources on those prospects. Don’t be afraid to internationalization. Conduct a rigorous market analysis including product localization, compliance with regulation, pricing, talent pools, competition as well as a risk assessment.
  • Funding: it’s very important to have a clear view of how the product and growth are going to be funded. It’s very important to find investors with strong expertise in cybersecurity.

And what should startups keep in mind in any case, so that a good idea also becomes a successful business model?

Monteagudo: As said before, a clear product, people, market and funding strategy is absolutely crucial. Startups do not have tremendous room for errors. If something is not working, it’s very important to address the issue and re-engineer the strategy quickly. Advisors might play a key role providing direction.

At Command Control you are a member of the jury of the Lion’s Den. What characterizes a good pitch for you?

Monteagudo: It need to be succinct while addressing what the product does, why it makes a lot of sense and how it is gonna achieve market penetration, growth and if possible dominance.

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