HERNDON, Va.—Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) has launched the first cyber-security technology startup accelerator program in the United States. The Mach37 Cyber Accelerator is intended to locate and leverage the wealth of cyber-security talent in Virginia to create companies that will develop and launch new products.
Mach 37 represents 37 times the speed of sound, which is approximately the same as the Earth’s escape velocity.
The accelerator is modeled on existing accelerators such as Y Combinator and TechStars in Silicon Valley, according to Mach37 managing partner Rick Gordon. Gordon told eWEEK that a primary difference is that Mach37 is focused on enterprise applications rather than on the consumer market. He also said that the type of entrepreneur in the cyber-security industry is quite different than those typically found in California’s Silicon Valley.
“Here they’re more risk-averse,” he said. Gordon said that the typical cyber-security innovator is older, probably has a mortgage and a family, and doesn’t have the ability to simply drop everything and create a startup. Because of that, Mach37 will provide initial funding for the startups while they go through the 90-day process required to be launched.
Companies wanting the help of the accelerator need to apply and convince the organization that they have a cyber-security product that has the potential to succeed. The entrepreneurs will work with the Mach37 partners to analyze any gaps in their business plan and then develop strategies to fill those gaps as part of the program.
Following the gap analysis, the partners will help validate a need for the startup’s product and positioning within the cyber-security market. The Mach37 partners will then work to introduce the entrepreneurs to investors, strategic and channel partners, and develop a part for bringing the product to market.
Finally, the Mach37 partners will work with the entrepreneurs to create a thoroughly vetted business plan and follow that up with a venture presentation. In the process, the program participants will be introduced to venture and angel investors and get help preparing for their first Demo Day presentation.
Entrepreneurs are encouraged to work in an office area provided by Mach37 at the CIT. The work area is designed for collaboration but also provides private meeting rooms. Each week, all of the entrepreneurs are encouraged to meet for a group dinner as a way to encourage further collaboration. The dinners will include the opportunity to meet with the Mach37 Stars Network, a group of approximately 200 industry leaders, cyber-security professionals, investors and community leaders who help foster the growth of the new companies.