There was no Mr. Wonderful, no dramatic music, and no national television coverage, yet in Venable LLP's 38th floor conference room with an expansive view of San Francisco, the tension was palpable.
Ten cybersecurity companies – from Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – made three-minute pitches to a panel of expert judges during the Maryland RSA Pitch Competition hosted by iCyberCenter@bwtech and the Maryland Department of Commerce. Unlike Shark Tank, though, each contestant walked away with prizes, including free or discounted access to workshops and programs offered by iCyberCenter@bwtech.
London-headquartered Ruggd, represented by CEO Brittany Greenfield, took home first place in the competition. Along with second-place winner iProov and third-place finisher Cog Systems, Ruggd won a free spot in the iCyberCenter's two-day workshop in June, as well as three free months in the bwtech@UMBC incubator in Catonsville, Md. Deep Secure and Reponsight each won a free spot in the iCyberCenter's June workshop. The other competitors – SIEMonster, Cogito Group, Aleron Security, Immersive Labs, and RedShield – each received a $500 discount for the workshop.
"bwtech@UMBC's iCyber Incubator was delighted to co-host an international pitch competition during the RSA conference with Maryland Commerce," said Ellen Hemmerly, executive director of bwtech@UMBC. "Maryland is an excellent place for international cybersecurity companies to enter the U.S. market, as evidenced by the strong international applicant pool for this pitch event."
Hemmerly welcomed contestants, judges, and guests and emceed the program. Prior to the presentations, Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill and Silent Circle CEO Gregg Smith spoke about the advantages and opportunities of doing business in Maryland.
"The Maryland RSA Pitch Competition was a terrific opportunity to tell international companies about Maryland's outstanding assets, resources, and business culture," said Gill. "Our state has drawn some of the best talent and technology in the world, and we're looking forward to adding these businesses to our robust cyber sector."
In addition to Smith, judges included Preston Frazier, chief technologist (cyber), Northrop Grumman Mission Systems; Jeremy Grant, managing director of technology and business strategy, Venable LLP; Ken McCreedy, director of cybersecurity and aerospace, Maryland Commerce; Christopher Steed, managing director, Paladin Capital Group; and Steven Witt, co-founder and investment board member, DataTribe.
The iCyberCenter's June workshop will provide information about the U.S. cyber market, introductions to successful entrepreneurs and investors in the sector, and access to experts who have helped companies win more than $4 billion in U.S. government contracts. Held in conjunction with the workshop, a "Meet the Buyer" event is designed to connect international companies with CISOs and CTOs, as well as integrators and U.S. resellers. Three months' free access to iCyberCenter@bwtech will give companies access to the co-working facility's unique resources and programs, as well as the nation's premier cybersecurity talent pool.
"We were gratified to find so much interest from the high quality companies that pitched at the competition," said McCreedy. "Our message was clear: Maryland is the international gateway to the U.S. cybersecurity market."
Even Mr. Wonderful and Shark Tank would have been impressed.