Anurag Gurtu from StrikeReady talks about the importance of cybersecurity and its rising significance.
1. Tell us how you came to be the CPO. How much of your typical day is involved in innovating new technology for your customers?
– My entire career revolved around customers. More specifically, understanding their problems and finding a solution.
– The foundation of my first startup foundation was consulting, with an ultimate goal to build a product and sell it to a big player. After a few years, this goal was accomplished, and the company was successfully acquired by Sun Microsystems.
– From there, I spent six years at Cisco in a product management role. During that time, I was learning how to work on disruptive technology and how to build things for scale.
– As for my typical day, I carry this problem-solving mentality in pretty much everything I do in my daily life. I always think about new ways to solve an existing problem, be it for a personal challenge or at a career level.
2. How did you define the vision of StrikeReady? How did you approach your first 100 days as the CPO?
StrikeReady is committed to squarely focus on the most foundational element in cybersecurity – you can think of us as the People with a simple goal: Empowering defenders.
In the first few days, we knew that there was only one way to achieve this vision, and that was to speak with hundreds of potential customers. Some came via our advisory team; some were our old contacts; some were just cold calls where we were just hunting folks on LinkedIn and shamelessly asking them to spend 30 minutes of their time. This is how I spent my time in the initial stage.
The next phase involved market research. We had all these problem statements we heard from all their interviews, and we needed to identify which ones had an urgency to solve while also validating that there was a market for the solution we will provide. I went heads down with scoping features, and this is how my first 100 days as the CPO of StrikeReady were.
3. What are the applications or rather opportunities you seek to have with your solutions/services?
We have identified three key issues in current security operations that need urgent action. The first is the cybersecurity skill gap. The majority of security teams struggle to gain a thorough understanding of every cybersecurity product and be familiar with its strengths and weaknesses. The excessive tools of all the products and their massively overlapping features further compound the problem. In addition, the adversary always finds a new way to attack, and it is only post-attack that the new technique, tactic, or methodology is discovered.
The second issue we help with is cyber fatigue. Defenders are bombarded with one alert after the other, which leads to burnout. With this onslaught of alerts, there is an increased risk of missing out on the most critical alerts.
Last but definitely not least is collaboration and Remote Work. This issue is particularly important under current circumstances. Many organizations have several teams in their cybersecurity departments, such as the SOC team, DFIR team, and others. The teams are often siloed, and there is a lack of free flow of information. Now more than ever, it is very important to have these different teams working together as seamlessly as possible and to maximize communication and collaboration within the whole department.
StrikeReady targets these key problems with a product built from the ground up to address the pressing needs of the defender, be it a SOC Analyst, an Incident Responder, a Threat Intel analyst, a Threat Hunter, a Red Teamer, a Security Engineer, or any other defender. We are converging AI, knowledge, and automation to improve security analysts’ productivity and abridge their skill gap. Our product helps accelerate incident investigation, automates response, imparts knowledge, and proactively secures the organization.
4. What are some of the distinctive features? How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
A solution like ours doesn’t exist in the market. We have taken a unified approach of bringing together knowledge, context, and automation with a goal to not only build a feature but rather a platform that consolidates many technologies for the customer. On average, a customer deploys 40-50 security products, and if you can help consolidate even a few, this provides significant savings for the customer.
5. What are some of the unique lessons you have learned from analyzing your customer behavior?
In the cybersecurity realm, customers deal with many problems, and there simply is no way you can solve all of them. This is why it is really important to identify which problem is the most urgent for the customers and then just focus on providing a solution for it. For me, the answer was clear. The problems that needed immediate attention were the cyber-skill gap, talent shortage, and collaboration challenges.
6. In 2021, your launch got a huge response from the industry. Would you like to share key milestones for our audience?
Prior to the launch, we built a successful foundation. We hired great people, built an amazing product, and acquired many customers, both locally and internationally.
Post-launch, we had already gotten tremendous traction with prospects. Now, we are heads down with engaging many prospects, running proof-of-value (POV), closing deals, and hiring aggressively in all departments. The two big milestones for us are achieving our target ARR and hiring the right people.
7. As per recent news, StrikeReady launched during a pandemic. Could you please share the key challenges?
Last year was challenging because most of the organizations were focused on operational stability, and budgets were scarce since these organizations didn’t know how their sales will get affected. New cybersecurity initiatives went somewhat went on the back burner as a result. Customers were still buying traditional cybersecurity plays like an endpoint solution, a firewall, or a VPN, and they weren’t looking for cutting-edge plays involving AI. Looking back, I think this was a blessing in disguise as it helped us really focus on building the product as we continued to work with our design partners.
8. What are some of the common pain points that your customers commonly approach you with?
Some of the common pain points I received were having too many security tools with overlapping features and too many alerts to deal with on a daily basis. Other recurring pain points are the lack of cybersecurity analysts, analyst burnout, and lack of collaboration between the analyst and within the industry.
9. What advice would you like to give to the upcoming Cyber Security tech startups?
Spend a lot of time validating the pain-point, but only take feedback from people who would really buy the product. Everyone has an opinion, but you don’t need every opinion.
Also, don’t focus on what looks cool but on what has an urgency to solve. Customers only want to solve problems that are urgent, especially in unprecedented times like these.
10. How would you encourage others to choose cybersecurity tech as their career path?
Read news and articles in the field of cybersecurity and see if that excites you. If it does, take a few courses and learn about this domain, or you can even learn using free online material. Be your own guide on which direction to take. I believe that you will figure out whether you have a passion for this domain. This is how it was for me. I majored in electrical engineering and specialized in computer networks, but then I was introduced to cybersecurity, and I just fell in love with it.
11. What is the one leadership motto you live by?
Think big to be big, and only when you hyper-focus and work hard will you make it.
For more such updates and perspectives around Digital Innovation, IoT, Data Infrastructure, AI & Cybsercurity, go to AI-Techpark.com.
Anurag Gurtu has over 18 years of cybersecurity experience in product management, marketing, go-to-market, professional services and software development.For the past seven years, Gurtu has been deeply involved in various domains of AI, such as Natural Language Understanding/Generation and Machine Learning (Supervised/Unsupervised), which has helped him distill reality from fallacy and the resulting confusion that exists in cybersecurity with real-world applicability of this technology.