Our Investment in Prevoty

We’re pleased to announce our investment in Prevoty. Located in Santa Monica, CA, Prevoty is building a web application security platform that protects against targeted code injection attacks.

The Problem

Traditionally, security has been handled at the network layer with a one-size-fits-all approach that attempts to detect and remediate all threats. However, commonly used firewalls and web application firewalls have two major flaws:

  1. Since they rely on historical attack data and outdated rule sets to recognize and block incoming threats, they cannot detect new and modified attacks.
  2. These security solutions sit outside of the web application and cannot contextualize the objectives of the data passing through and how users are interacting with the application.

A constant stream of destructive web application layer attacks regularly compromise major websites, resulting in identity theft, malware and botting, information breaches, and/or brand defacement. In 2013 alone, NBCLinkedInYahooThe PentagonLivingSocialToyota and Tumblr were all victims of code injection attacks.

The Solution

Prevoty is a cloud-based security company protecting an organization’s internal and external web application environment and its three main components: the network, the database, and the application.

Prevoty’s security modules are built within the contexts of each main component and are thus uniquely positioned to handle threats native to each context – from cross-site scripting (XSS) and cross-site request forgery (XSRF) to SQL injections, brute force, and DDoS attacks.

Their technology does not rely on past definitions, signatures, or blacklists. Instead, it understands how content will be presented to users or saved to the database (before it actually does) and determines whether content being handled by an application is safe.

The Team

Prevoty has an all-star team which includes co-founders Kunal Anand and Julien Bellanger. Kunal is the former director of technology at the BBC who has held lead security and software engineering positions at MySpace and NASA. Julien is an entrepreneur with extensive technology B2B business development experience.

The Value

Security prevention and detection solutions like the ones offered by the team at Prevoty are especially timely given the increase in volume and complexity of recent attacks. Attacks have become so prevalent that government proposed regulations requiring companies to disclose when they’ve been hacked or suffered a data breach (US, Europe) are becoming common.

Prevoty’s goal is to provide value beyond the one-size-fits-all security box, giving users flexible configuration options and actionable insights. Their technology can protect a variety of businesses and organizations (including e-commerce sites, media companies, government entities, and banking institutions) as well as the everyday blogger or content publisher.

Prevoty’s products can either be cloud-based or deployed as virtual machines in the customer environment, and can work in tandem with existing security suites to add a crucial layer of protection.

If you are a site administrator interested in protecting your web application, sign up for or live-test their product at https://www.prevoty.com/smartfilter.

If you are a WordPress blogger, prevent code-injections without limiting user engagement and dynamic content by downloading Prevoty’s security plugin at http://www.wordpress.org/plugins/smartfilter.

We are happy to be investing alongside two great LA funds, Plus Capital & Double M Partners, and we’re excited to welcome the Prevoty team to the Launchpad LA family.

Apply Now Launchpad LA Fall 2013

Today, applications are open for Launchpad LA’s Class 6. The class will run from mid-September to mid-January (exact dates subject to change).

Applications are due August 11th at 11:59pm. After this date, we will continue to accept applications, but we cannot guarantee review before the class kickoff in September. (Launchpad LA runs “elastic classes,” meaning that we accept companies early or late, rather than adhering to a rigid calendar for the accelerator. So, if we’re being totally honest, you can actually apply anytime; however, we make most of our investment decisions during the official application period, so we highly recommend submitting your company during this time. Does that make sense?)

Moving on…what do we look for in an application?

Several people have blogged about this topic before, and most of them are worth reading, but I want to highlight a few ways to make your application really stand out to us.

  1. Build something. We rarely invest in ideas. We want to see that you’ve built something. It helps us understand the way you think about product and design, and it shows that you’ve got the hustle to execute. Great design is definitely not required at this early stage, but it can certainly help you stand out. In any case, building something to show us is pretty much essential, and as Andrew Parker says, showing a demo is the best way to capture an investor’s imagination.
  2. Apply early; send updates. Assessing applications with a single snapshot is hard (read: impossible). We invest in lines, not dots. When you wait to apply until the end of the application cycle, we have less time to track your progress. Brendan Baker and Hiten Shah created a great presentation that explains how to communicate traction to investors.
  3. Be concise; use bullets. We’ve seen thousands of pitches and read thousands of applications. Explain why you’re awesome in as few words as possible. We will be grateful for it.
  4. Be referred by someone in our network. This doesn’t mean you should spam everyone in our network asking for a referral. If you know someone personally, or think what you’re working on will resonate with someone specific, ask them for a few minutes to learn about your business. If they like it and let us know about you, that is a big boost to your application. If you’re cold-emailing someone in our network asking for a referral, do it smartly – David Cohen and Thomas Korte have written great blog posts explaining the best ways to do this.
  5. Why is your team the right team? We want to work with entrepreneurs and teams who are working on a problem they are passionate about. Why does your team’s background and experience lend itself to solving this problem?
  6. Why now? What developments in technology, user behavior, or the broader economy make your business likely to succeed now more than ever before?

In general, if your application convincingly answers the questions laid out in the classic Sequoia business plan outline, you’re on the right track. Throw in a killer product demo and a couple referrals from people we know and you’ll definitely have our attention.

We look forward to learning about your exciting business in the months ahead. Don’t hesitate to reach out through email or social media with any questions.