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This week: A conversation with Bastion co-founder and CEO Arnaud Fournier about the cybersecurity startup's recent Seed fundraising.
What: Bastion's goal is to make cybersecurity more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses with a simple platform that doesn't require major technical skills to use. The platform is a holistic solution that comes with all the modules necessary to offer a complete security solution. It can be launched and running within 24 hours. Among other threats, it protects a business against ransomware, phishing, and other major cyber risks. The platform also conducts a security audit of existing systems to analyze the threat surface, information leaks on the dark web, the safety of configurations of any messaging services, and data storage. Once active, it provides continuous alerts about any security threats.
Why: According to Fournier, people and businesses are feeling increasingly intimidated and scared in the face of mounting cybersecurity threats: "They really don't know what to do. And if you look at the numbers, an SMB that is hit by an attack has a 66% chance of going bankrupt in the next 18 months. I think what we're seeing right now is a gigantic market opening. Yet this one is very immature. So a lot of our efforts right now are basically helping our partners and our clients understand the steps that they need to take. This is also something that we embed in the product.
If you take a step back, cybersecurity isn't such a complicated problem. It's essentially four things. In an SMB, it's the people, it's the email security, it's your laptop and your endpoints, and it's anything that is connected to the web, like your website or your databases. If you can fix those four things, then it's most likely that somebody trying to attack you in a mass attack will not manage to enter your company and will either go somewhere else.
We try to fix those problems. For people, we provide point-and-click training on 15 topics and each of those is 3 minutes. It's self-managed and it takes 10 minutes to set up. When it comes to endpoints, we set up something on your servers and your laptops and then we have a team of experts who manages that and reviews alerts on a daily basis. We will scan everything that relates to your domain name. We will tell you what an attacker can see from the outside. And we'll give you a very detailed report on what you can do about this. It's been designed with SMBs in mind taking all of those issues into one product."
Fournier: "My background is in data science and machine learning. I studied in France, the US, and the UK. I joined Palantir about three years ago. I eventually led the cyber security business line in the commercial space. Essentially anything that was outside of government at Palantir. From that angle, I worked a lot in the US primarily. But I was still based Paris. We worked with a lot of large enterprises and distributors. And every time I would go back to France and speak to people I know around me about cybersecurity, they would all be asking the same question: What do we need to do right now? It was like they were ashamed of admitting that they didn't know much, but felt like they needed to do something at that point.
And so with the help of Sébastien, who was the CTO of cybersecurity at Palantir, Arnaud (Drizard) who was the head of development in France, and Robin who was the technical lead for the anti-fraud and anti-money laundering platform, we decided to leave our day jobs and go 100% into this mission of helping SMBs and mid-cap companies face what we believe was one of the rising threats for them. There wasn't much product design for these people in terms of security. When you look at what the average IT person in an SMB is today, what they need is something that solves cybersecurity as a whole, not just one of the 15 cyber security vertical pain points."
Seed: €2.5 million
Investors: The round was led by Frst, represented by Managing Partner Pierre Entremont. It also included money from Business Angels, including Denis
Duverne, former board president of AXA; Joshua Motta, co-founder and CEO of Coalition; Renaud Deraison, founder and ex-CTO of Tenable; and Gaëlle Olivier, ex-COO of Société Générale.
Fournier: "We raised the Seed round as we were leaving our jobs. The goal of the Seed round was initially to validate the products and see that there was a need for this kind of product.
We had a tremendous amount of interest in our initial seed round. We raised without having any product. We played with this idea of proving the value of the product and the possibility in terms of distribution as a bet. In terms of going for the next round, I think we're seeing cybersecurity as a huge market, especially for SMBs one in which there is very little competition right now.
We've developed the service over the past six months. We've been working with a 40-person industrial company all the way to an e-commerce company with 800 people. We've designed with them, we've refined the product and now we're essentially launching it live. We're using the communication of the fundraising as a way to officially launch so the product is ready.
What's Next: Bastion uses an indirect go-to-market strategy. It partner with third parties like banks and insurance companies to build a distribution network that allows it to connect with SMBs. Fournier said Bastion will use the money for two main purposes: "First, continuing to develop the product for better security and also improve our partners' life. And second, scaling our distribution and going from generating those initial leads and beta testers all the way to scaling this partner distribution. How do we build distribution to be speaking to every single SMB in France and in Europe?"