Having grown up the middle of three brothers, I know a thing or two about competition. Life was simple back then. You either got the last pork chop or you went hungry. You either won or you lost. Yet, in my professional career, I’ve always taken a less binary approach. Of course, I’m still competitive as hell but I’ve always felt that if you’re chasing a grand enough vision in a big enough market then there’s enough room for success. As a result, I’ve always believed in helping other startups – both personally and through the companies I work with.
In many ways, Dyn played a major role in the startup revolution. The DNS is an underlying technology that is crucial for any company that cares about web performance. In 2008, when my York IE partner Kyle York joined as the first head of sales and marketing, tech startups were changing the way we shopped, communicated, and lived. One of our first customers was Odeo, which would ultimately evolve into Twitter, a company never quite seen before that wouldn’t have been possible without technology. Twitter had global scale and reach in a relatively short period of time that was previously unimaginable. Its success inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs who wanted to change the world.
Dyn grew to a $100 million ARR not selling to giant enterprises -sure we had a few- but by helping thousands of startups and SMBs have reliable and predictable performance.
Kyle, Joe Raczka, and I brought our love for helping startups to Oracle after we were acquired. At Oracle, which is universally associated with the enterprise, we advocated on behalf of developers and expressed the importance of building products and tools for startups. This wasn’t just altruistic. It’s good business sense. Yes, this helps those startups today but it also ensures they’re using you when they become tomorrow’s enterprises.
The three of us have been personally invested in helping startups from the earliest days of our careers, as mentors, non-profit board members and angel investors. Our work as angels is what laid the foundation for York IE, which is our new early stage investment firm and operating company. That’s just a complicated way of saying: our new startup.
So, naturally, we’re carrying this ethos – startups helping startups – to York IE both in the products we build and the entrepreneurs and companies we work with. No, this isn’t a fundamental part of our investing principle but it is a part of who we are.
That’s why we’re so excited to be working closely with Defendify. Defendify brings to market a desperately needed, holistic, affordable cybersecurity solution for small businesses and especially startups. It’s a segment of the market that is vulnerable yet not currently served, especially important as regulators, insurers, and enterprises continue to rate smaller firms as higher risk and require more of them on the cybersecurity front. At York IE I often work with startups in building brand equity. Years of hard work in building customer trust can come crumbling down quickly with one major security breach. Security is crucial. Great security can be a business differentiator. And now Defendify has arrived to make cybersecurity possible for the millions of small businesses and startups that are the undercurrent of our economy.
But we don’t just like the Defendify product. We love the team. One of the questions before we invest in a startup is do we want to spend our time with these founders? Will we be invested in wanting to see them succeed? When it comes to Defendify’s founders, Rob Simopoulos and Andrew Rinaldi, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes.
Having recently been selected to represent the Maine startup community, Rob and Andrew will be flying the Defendi-flag at TechCrunch Disrupt next week in San Francisco. It’s the belly of the beast, ground zero for the world’s most exciting startups. That’s why we’re excited to be teaming with Defendify to offer their core platform for a full year at no cost to both Disrupt participants and the York IE portfolio of companies. We can now proudly say we’re reshaping how startups are built and protected, a theme Rob and Andrew will be promoting for all of us firsthand at the event (if you’ll happen to be there, hunt them down in Startup Alley on 10/2/19 or be on the lookout for them sporting these catchy t-shirts that say it all: Don’t Get Disrupted, Get Defendify!
The startup grind can be a lonely one. But when we see other startups helping startups we’re reminded that we’re not in this alone. Entrepreneurs are a crazy bunch. But I wouldn’t want to be part of any other group!