San Antonio Cybersecurity Incubator Sprouts From Grassroots Effort

San Antonio—Starting a business is no small feat, especially if you’re doing it for the first time, given the seemingly endless list of questions to answer about a business model. The toughest question: Who do I ask for help?

That’s part of the thinking behind the creation of a new cybersecurity incubator founded this week in San Antonio called Build Sec Foundry. The organization intends to help entrepreneurs in the cybersecurity space—in particular, ex-military members with a startup idea—who are in need of office space, advice on bringing their product to market, and other forms of mentoring from experts who have worked in the industry previously, says Will Garrett. He’s the director of CyberSecurity San Antonio, which is part of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

Build Sec Foundry is going to be housed at Geekdom, the co-working space in downtown San Antonio, and is being funded by a $600,000 grant from the 80/20 Foundation, which invests in nonprofits and other groups focused on entrepreneurial activities. Lorenzo Gomez runs both Geekdom and 80/20 and worked with Garrett and others on starting the incubator.

The $600,000 in funds, which is being evenly divided over three years, is a matching grant meant to earn additional contributions from the private sector, Garrett says.

“What was the best structure and way to launch a space and a program that would tie on all the unique assets here, and support entrepreneurs,” Garrett says. “That (thinking) was the impetus for the launch.”

The incubator partly formed out of a bootcamp that the chamber operated through CyberSecurity San Antonio on Saturdays, Garrett says. Ex-military members with a business idea could attend the grassroots bootcamp and receive advice from a network of other former military members with business experience.

Infocyte, a cybersecurity company in town that’s focused on a specific sector called “threat hunting,” got its start and early-stage funding through connections from that bootcamp. The business will be the first company housed in the Build Sec Foundry incubator, Garrett says.

The other impetus of the incubator’s formation came from a collaboration between the 80/20 Foundation and the Austin Technology Incubator, a program at the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on four different sectors. About a year ago, the chamber joined in, too. That’s when Garrett and Bart Bohn, a director of a couple of the Austin programs, got together and developed the foundation of Build Sec Foundry.

The incubator will be open to any entrepreneur with an idea, but it will typically seek companies that already have launched with an idea, Garrett says.

“They’d be past the ideation stage—a company that’s already formed, has a product that we feel, with our resources, tools, the access we can provide, that we could actually help them grow it quicker,” he says.

Garrett and Bohn will be part of the management team of Build Sec Foundry, along with Bob Gleichauf, an executive at venture capital investor and nonprofit In-Q-Tel, and John Dickson of Denim Group, another cybersecurity provider.

Build Sec Foundry will look for companies both locally and nationally, Garrett says.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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