Build Sec Foundry (BSF), a new Cybersecurity incubator, was proudly launched by Cybersecurity San Antonio and your Chamber of Commerce at a press conference on June 23. A long list of esteemed San Antonio leaders attended, including Mayor Ivy Taylor, Judge Nelson Wolff and City Manager Sheryl Sculley as our own VP of Cybersecurity Will Garrett pulled back the curtain on this innovative program which aims to foster cybersecurity startups here in San Antonio.
“In less than one year since its formal inception, Cybersecurity San Antonio is announcing the Build Sec Foundry,” 2016 Chamber Chairman and Regional Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs at AT&T Reneé Flores said to the crowd at Geekdom’s Event Centre. “It is a cybersecurity incubator designed to foster an environment of connection, collaboration and support for entrepreneurs who are in the business of creating the next generation of cyber product companies.”
Housed at Geekdom downtown, Build Sec Foundry aims to accelerate startups by helping them in a variety of ways. BSF will offer access to industry specific resources, like a network of experts, investors and potential clients for companies to learn from and will focus a startup’s energy on what’s most important for the business to shorten the amount of time startups spend in incubation, a potentially hazardous period for new companies. Their goal is to limit the time participating companies spend in some of the riskier stages of development by assisting companies with creating sustainable, scalable growth plans.
“We were all, on the City Council, very supportive of the creation of Cybersecurity San Antonio last year,” Mayor Ivy Taylor said. “I’m preaching to the choir here, I’m sure you all already know that we are home to over 30 locally-headquartered Cybersecurity companies. We’re not slowing down. The momentum is continuing.”
Barely a year old, Cybersecurity San Antonio has been garnering the attention of city leaders like Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. Wolff believes that the Build Sec Foundry could potentially foster the next Graham Weston, or Trinity University alumni Dirk Elmendorf and Pat Condon, the founders of Rackspace.
“I think we’ve all come to the realization in Bexar County that the traditional way of doing economic development has changed,” Judge Wolff said. “We need another Graham Weston to find four guys in a garage working on an idea that then gave rise to the great company that he heads up today with some 3,000 people working here. We know that any one of these companies have the opportunity to continue to grow and prosper in our community. This is a great step forward.”
In addition, the BSF team, comprised of the Chamber’s VP of Cybersecurity, Will Garrett; Bart Bohn, from the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) and Bob Gleichauf, from In-Q-Tel, announced Infocyte as the first member of the Foundry. Founded by former members of the U.S. military’s first malware hunting team, Infocyte’s mission is to deny attackers the ability to persist undetected in your network.
That wasn’t the only major announcement Build Sec Foundry had during the press conference. Lorenzo Gomez, Executive Director of the 80/20 Foundation, presented BSF with a check for a grant of $600,000. The 80/20 Foundation invests in the 20% of nonprofits who drive 80% of the social impact that will turn San Antonio into a hub for entrepreneurship and lead to a vibrant urban core that will attract the next big tech company to San Antonio. So the goals of both the Build Sec Foundry and the 80/20 Foundation line up very closely.
“When we’re thinking about a grant of this size, it’s really is there a champion?” Lorenzo Gomez confessed. “Is there someone who is going to wake up every day who is obsessed with the success of this endeavor. That champion is Will Garrett. A lot of investors will tell you that you really don’t bet on the product, you bet on the team. I would bet on Will Garrett all day, every day. We’re super proud to be a partner in this initiative, we’re super proud at 80/20 to put our money where our mouth is and to partner with this incubator.”
After accepting the 80/20 Foundation’s check, which Will Garrett said was the biggest he’s ever seen, he closed the launch event by painting a bright future for Cybersecurity companies in San Antonio.
“There are pockets of innovation, and we believe there is one of those here in San Antonio,” Garrett said. “The time is now to challenge ourselves and say ‘we have this talent, we have this ecosystem’, what can we do if we mobilize the right assets to support that product development.”