COVID-19 and the sudden transition to remote work have led to organizations scrambling to deal with new data security issues and vulnerabilities that were never before envisioned. Open Raven is the modern, cloud-native data security platform that helps organizations prevent data breaches through preventative monitoring and risk assessment. The platform integrates with a company’s existing technology stack, allowing IT and security teams to automatically and easily locate where data is being stored and even locate hidden or forgotten storage spaces within the cloud. Through the company’s custom control panel, security teams are able to manage data remotely from a single centralized point before there is a breach – big or small.
LA TechWatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Dave Cole to learn more about Open Raven, the launch of Open Raven Community Edition, his experience fundraising in the middle of the pandemic, and much more…
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Open Raven has raised $15M in a Series A investment. This raise was led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from existing investors including Kara Nortman at Upfront Ventures, Niloo Razi Howe (former chief strategy officer at RSA), and Oliver Friedrichs (VP and GM at Splunk). We are also excited to have The University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering as a local investor. This follows our Seed round back in February and brings our total funding to $19.1M.
Tell us about the product or service Open Raven offers.
Open Raven is the cloud-native data security platform that prevents breaches driven by modern speed and sprawl. As part of our funding announcement, we also announced the general availability for the Open Raven Community Edition, a free product. Since you can’t protect what you can’t see, the Open Raven Community Edition builds a foundation for data security by locating all of an organization’s data assets and data stores to uncover exposures, at-risk data, and shadow accounts at scale. Our goal is to monitor data in real-time to proactively uncover cloud data exposure problems before they become security incidents. We show every AWS account and asset from every angle in a global 3D map so it’s easy for security teams to see where their data lies and prevent data mishaps while staying compliant.
What inspired the start of Open Raven?
Last winter my cofounder Mark Curphey and I found ourselves in a shared break from the security industry and the stars finally aligned for us to start something together.
When we first started discussing building a company, we sat down and talked about the different products and businesses we admired. Between us we have nearly 50 years of security experience and yet none of these companies were security companies. So, we thought, how can we fix this? Our guiding question for the foundation for Open Raven was along the lines of: “If you were to build a company and technology that genuinely advanced the industry, how would you do it?”
There is a huge data security problem and the existing approaches, especially breach prevention, aren’t working. We launched Open Raven to fix that.
How is Open Raven different?
We are 100% focused on solving the problem of data security for even the largest, most complicated environments. This drove us to build a full cloud-native platform as opposed to a smaller scale and easier-to-deliver tool. Our focus on the modern enterprise also informed our choice to use an open core model where the foundation of our platform is readily available as open-source, allowing sophisticated organizations to expand the platform as they see fit.
Lastly, we think even products built for the enterprise should be beautiful and easy to use. Classic data loss prevention products take weeks if not months to set up properly. Open Raven is usable within minutes and requires no specialized skills to operate.
What market is Open Raven targeting and how big is it?
Enterprise security and specifically those with cloud security needs. According to Gartner, by 2022, 75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated to a cloud platform. There isn’t currently a good solution for securing the volume, velocity, and variety of that data in the cloud. We’re changing that.
Are you still doing your podcast Security Voices? What episode would you recommend people reading this interview to listen to?
Yes, Security Voices is still alive and well. My co-host Jack and I find time in our busy schedules to record episodes as much as we can. Security Voices was founded to tell the great stories in the security industry that aren’t being told and we are looking forward to continuing on doing that.
We recently released an episode with Andy Ellis, the Chief Security Officer at Akamai. Andy has been with Akamai for over 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge for young security leaders that I would definitely recommend checking out. Selfishly I’d also recommend checking out the episode we did on the launch of Open Raven for those who are interested in learning more about the company.
What’s your business model?
We have a direct sales model with a small, but growing channel program.
What was the funding process like?
Unusual. Mostly because we had to do everything 100% remote given the global pandemic. The final partner meeting was done over Zoom and all negotiations were done over the phone.
Before March, it was easy to get investors’ attention, but when things started falling apart, investors understandably started focusing on supporting their existing portfolio companies over new investments. This made negotiations harder as there simply were not as many options for leading the round as there were just weeks previously.
The speed at which the deal ultimately got done was surprising as well. From signing the term sheet to cash in the bank was less than 2 weeks. This never would have happened under normal conditions where people are juggling travel schedules and other activities.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
As you can imagine, doing this all during a global pandemic was the biggest challenge we faced. We had to figure out the new rules and navigate this whole process remotely, which was a fresh challenge for everyone involved. We had to weigh the risk of getting the ideal round done, versus the practical reality of needing to secure our future amidst unprecedented uncertainty about the future. When would the market return? When will companies start looking at new solutions again? We wrestled with all of these questions.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
It came down to a mutual agreement on the future of security and the future of data security. Legacy solutions were built on a set of assumptions that just don’t hold up to today’s cloud complexity and the volume, velocity, and variety of data. They’ve been adapted to meet the modern data security problem, but what’s really needed is an entirely new approach. That’s what Open Raven is bringing to the table. There is not a single, authoritative leader when it comes to data security. We, and our investors, believe we will be that company.
There is not a single, authoritative leader when it comes to data security. We, and our investors, believe we will be that company.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Over the next six months, we are looking to focus on two things. First, growing the adoption of our free Community Edition solution. We’re aiming to build a vibrant community focused on getting data sprawl back under control using and expanding the platform.
Later this year, we’ll also launch a paid version of Open Raven that adds to the free platform the ability to go deeper into data stores, inventorying, classifying, and analyzing their data so that they can be properly monitored and protected at scale.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
This might seem like pretty straightforward advice but scrutinize every ounce of your spend. Be incredibly conservative and be creative – take a hard look at available government programs, consider what debt options are available to extend your runway, and of course, stay in tight communication with existing investors. The best investors shine in tough times like the current, it was one of the primary reasons we chose to work with Upfront Ventures and especially Kara Nortman.
Do you prefer hiking or surfing in LA?
Hiking, especially the backbone trail out of Tuna Canyon and Dawn Mine near Arcadia.
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