Maryland Startups / IT and Cybersecurity
Gear up for RSA Conference's Innovation Sandbox
By Maureen Kilcullen /
January 22, 2018

Looking to take your cyber startup to the next level? Consider entering the RSAC Innovation Sandbox Contest, which showcases emerging cybersecurity companies. It's fertile ground for growing your business and attracting funding. Consider, for example, RedOwl – in the year after winning the Innovation Sandbox at RSAC 2014, the company landed $21.6 million in investments. In August 2017, RedOwl was acquired by Forcepoint, an Austin, Texas, company owned by Raytheon. RedOwl, now known as Forcepoint, is located in Baltimore City.

Forcepoint Vice President Guy Filippelli, who founded RedOwl, offers these tips for cyber entrepreneurs vying to win the Innovation Sandbox Contest:

  • Stay focused on the customer value, not the feature, of what you're doing.
  • The competition will be won or lost during the question-and-answer period.
  • Be real! Too much technology-speak can cloud your message.

Maryland's cyber entrepreneurs have fared well over the 12-year history of the Innovation Sandbox. In addition to RedOwl's victory in 2014, Sourcefire – since acquired by Cisco – won the inaugural contest in 2005. Light Point Security, located in Catonsville, Md., finished among the top 10 in 2013, and SecurityDo (now Fluency Security) in College Park, Md., was one of the 10 finalists in 2015.

Just last year, EnVeil was recognized as the first second-place finisher in the history of the RSAC Innovation Sandbox. The company, which is located in Fulton, Md., has since graduated from start-up studio DataTribe and attracted $4 million in investments.

EnVeil founder and CEO Ellison Anne Williams has this advice for those considering entering the Innovation Sandbox this year:

  • Just Do It. You have nothing to lose in entering and everything to gain.
  • Clearly articulate what makes you Innovative and why it's market relevant. If you have something truly unique, make sure that it's crystal clear to anyone reading your application.
  • Hone Your Pitch. If you get selected, congrats! You have 3-minutes to tell your story, so make them count. Oh, and practice, practice, practice.

Think your company has what it takes? Check out the contest rules and submit an online application here. Deadline to apply is Friday, February 9. Then take a look at the finals presentations by Guy Filippelli and Ellison Anne Williams for inspiration. If you're selected as one of the 10 finalists, you'll present a three-minute pitch to a panel of cyber expert judges on Monday, April 16, during the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Good luck!


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