SAN FRANCISCO -- The 2009 RSA Conference is reaching out to security startups with a concept called the Innovation Showcase.
After a public review of submitted proposals, 10 finalists have been invited to demonstrate their technologies and pitch their stories to a board of security experts. The winner will be crowned RSA's Innovator of the Year. This is not unlike the Demo conference, where companies have a couple of minutes to wow VCs, only the companies in RSA's Innovation Showcase have already received an "A Round" of funding from VC's, which means they have already won the most important innovation competition.
The judges evaluated the security vendors on criteria such as market opportunity, technical excellence, management team capability and presentation skills. Each of the finalists was unique in its vision and merit mention. Half of the finalists are solidly in the authentication segment of the market, seeking to reduce the risk of identity and data theft in mobile and cloud environments:
- Behaviometrics AB's BehavioSec product learns end-users characteristics from keystrokes and mouse movements for ongoing authentication between logon and logoff.
- Network Intercept LLC places security access card tokens on servers and endpoints for mutual authentication and cloaking from unauthorized machines.
- Ohanae Inc. delivers end-to-end authentication to protect identities and data for online transactions.
- SafeMashups Inc. raises SSL to the application level to authenticate Web applications that are connecting in a mashup through a user's browser.
- Yubico Inc. markets a USB authenticator that transmits a one-time password at the push of a button to give users access to multiple platforms.
The other finalists are advancing the trend of reducing operating costs with a tighter integration between security and business functions:
- AlertEnterprise Corp. converges risk management analysis across physical, logical and control systems to give IT a comprehensive view of user activity.
- MokaFive Inc. publishes IT-approved desktops to the cloud, allowing end users to execute clean applications and protect confidential data.
- Purewire Inc. provides a cloud-based security service to protect users from infected websites and to help IT keep websites clean.
- Vantos Inc. automates business processes associated with conducting security investigations and reduces the expense of managing investigations.
- White Cyber Knight Inc. associates business issues and priorities with IT governance, risk and compliance (GRC) efforts.
In this kind of competition, there are many winners. The first is the RSA Conference, which gets beaucoup press activity to attract startups to future RSA shows. The second winners are the emerging entrepreneurs in the audience who got a sense of how to describe an idea to VCs, and may find themselves helming a company in a future Innovation Showcase. The third (and official) winner is AlertEnterprise, which nabbed the RSA Conference Innovative Company of the Year bragging rights until next March!
Winners aside, RSA is to be commended; every tradeshow should have something like an Innovation Showcase that can capture the imagination and vision of entrepreneurs. My only recommendation? Next year, RSA should give each finalist media training in elevator pitches. Perhaps the only thing harder than building an innovative security company is pitching the concept to someone in 30 seconds or less!
About the author:
Eric Ogren is founder and principal analyst of the Ogren Group, which provides industry analyst services for vendors focusing on virtualization and security. Prior to founding the Ogren Group, Eric served as a security industry analyst for the Yankee Group and ESG. Ogren has also served as vice president of marketing at security startups Okena, Sequation and Tizor. He can be reached by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.