Founded in 2011, cyber security intelligence startup Digital Shadows has created a big data analytics and threat intelligence platform that monitors sensitive information in cloud, mobile and social networking services.
Digital Shadows' service gives users early warnings of potential cyber threats and data leaks. Based in London's Canary Wharf, Digital Shadows employs 30 people with a further 20 expected to join by the end of 2015.
V3 spoke to Alastair Paterson, who founded the startup with his partner James Chappell, to find out more about Digital Shadows.
Why did you set up Digital Shadows?
James and I met at specialist security consultancy Detica, now the cyber security arm of BAE Systems.
We became interested in the digital footprints that individuals and organisations leave on the internet and their security implications.
We also saw the direction that the industry was moving in, in terms of social media, the cloud, mobile and the trend of bring your own device, that all operate beyond a business's boundary and out of corporate control.
When you multiply this up by the partners and supply chains of organisations that also have access to its data, we recognised a new category of risks was emerging.
We wanted to find a way to help firms manage the risks of data loss and cyber threats in these ever-expanding digital footprints.
Tell us how you got your business off the ground?
Initially we funded Digital Shadows out of our personal savings, but the idea gained interest and traction quickly and we were fortunate to win a Technology Strategy Board grant six months later, which helped us to develop our first prototype.
What technology do you use?
Our primary coding language is Java and we use a range of technologies including cloud services, NoSQL, and specialist libraries for natural language processing and data analytics at scale.
Are you based in an incubator or startup centre?
Not any more but the Accenture FinTech innovation lab was very useful in terms of getting us in to Level 39 at Canary Wharf and providing us with advice and support and putting us in an environment where we could learn from other like-minded companies.
We remain in One Canada Square in a 30-person office on the 42nd floor and enjoy being part of the Level39 community still.
What level of funding have you received so far?
We received early stage seed funding and angel investment totalling around $2m.
However, in February we announced an $8m funding round from Storm Ventures, Passion Capital and TenEleven Ventures, along with several business angel investors.
This has enabled us to open our New York and San Francisco offices to service our multinational clients better.
What challenges have you encountered to date?
Cyber security is now a huge issue for all companies but many of them are struggling just to get the basics right, which has meant we initially had to focus on early adopters only.
That has changed and we are now working with a range of firms of all sizes in many different verticals as the industry matures.
As a small company we do not have the same size of marketing budget as the big guys, so part of our challenge is in cutting through the noise in the market and getting our message out.
What's been the biggest highlight of your time at Digital Shadows to date?
There have been many highlights, but securing the $8m funding round and accompanying David Cameron as one of a handful of cyber security companies on a trade mission to Washington DC earlier this year was very special.
What do you and your colleagues do to relax or have fun after a busy day?
Our young team has created a very social environment and the office beer-fridge is very popular on a Friday evening when we have a chance to take in the amazing views back over London from our office on 42nd floor at One Canada Square.
An important part of our interview process is a "meet and greet" where we check that we are hiring people we enjoy being around and want to work with, which helps create a fun social environment.
We're an active bunch and recently established a football team, taking on all-comers from the incubator three floors below on Level39.
What are your favourite and worst things about running your own startup?
The freedom, the fun, and the chance to make a meaningful difference each day makes it a pleasure to run Digital Shadows. It is a full-time job so quite rightly requires an extreme level of commitment.
If you could emulate the success of another startup, which company would it be?
There are many great companies out there we hold in high esteem. In terms of UK firms I've always admired the way Huddle have succeeded in growing their business in the US with a similar SaaS model to ourselves.
In the security space FireEye have expanded at an incredible rate and have shown how it is possible to rapidly scale up the sales of a complex security product.
I have a lot of time for Elon Musk given he has achieved success in several diverse, different industries and disciplines while maintaining a social conscience and wanting to push the boundaries in key areas that have an impact on everybody like the environment and space exploration.
Smart or casual?
Casual when I can!
Coffee shop of choice?
Tea all the way. I like Peet's and Philz in the US, tend to avoid them in UK!
Beverage of choice?
Tea at work; IPA in the pub.
Tough one. Southampton Arms at Gospel Oak is a little-known gem.
Uber or CityMapper.
Do you benefit from startup communities and related networking?
Being part of Level39 has been great for us in terms of the London FinTech community and expanding our network and visibility.
Can the government and technology industry do more to support UK startups?
The government has done a lot for startups, I believe the focus needs to shift to "scale-ups", helping companies at the next stage, raise Series A funding and beyond, and expand internationally.
If you want to take part in the V3 Startup Spotlight contact Roland Moore-Colyer.
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