[Startup Interview] Burjiz Pithawala, Co-Founder, Elisity, USA
Elisity is a USA-based startup that is helping companies redefine security and access in a world transformed by cloud, mobility, and connected devices.The founding team has been designing, building, marketing and selling products in the network and security space for over 25 years. Burjiz Pithawala, one of its founders explains.
Tell us a bit about your startup?
Elisity offers an identity-driven control plane for corporate networking and remote access without tying customers to a particular network or network security technology.
Its Cognitive Trust platform, delivered as a cloud-based service, is deployed as an overlay or underlay on whatever WAN and/or SD-WAN infrastructure an enterprise prefers to protect data, users, devices, and applications in the datacenter, the cloud, at home, and everywhere. Based in San Jose, Elisity is backed by Two Bear Capital, AllegisCyber Capital, and Atlantic Bridge.
Who founded Elisity and what are their professional backgrounds?
Elisity was founded in 2018 by Burjiz Pithawala, chief product officer; Sundher Narayan, chief architect; and Srinivas Sardar, vice president of engineering, who all previously held leadership roles in product development and architecture at Cisco.
Elisity was founded and is led by industry veterans from Cisco, Qualys, and Viptela, Elisity is helping companies redefine security and access in a world transformed by cloud, mobility, and connected devices. The team has been designing, building, marketing and selling products in the network and security space for over 25 years.
Who are the owners of Elisity?
In addition to Elisity's founders and executive team, the company has a world-renowned Board of Directors and an equally strong Board of Advisors. These industry visionaries have funded, built, and led companies in all areas of technology.
How is Elisity financed?
Elisity is an early-stage startup that came out of stealth in the second half of 2020 with $7.5M in seed funding from Atlantic Bridge.
In June 2021, the company announced a Series A funding round totaling $26 million, co-led by Two Bear Capital and AllegisCyber Capital, with previous investor Atlantic Bridge also participating.
What would you say are the dynamics that have shaped the cybersecurity space?
Hackers thrive on chaos. As we've all seen with the countless hacks and stories on ransomware, it's not slowing down. At the same time, companies are still navigating a never seen before situation. Combine those issues with the rise of devices, the cloud, the onslaught of new technologies and the fact employees are leaving their jobs in droves to start news ones – security can take a hit.
Adding to the complexity of the permanently distributed workforce is the overlapping convergence of IT and OT, the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure, and the lack of visibility into shadow IT. Elisity helps combat these challenges by enabling organizations to analyze the unique identity and context of users, apps, and devices—including IoT, IIoT, and IoMT—wherever they're operating.
Why did you start Elisity? What opportunities did you identify?
The "Aha moment" came when we realized that to solve the problems of security for a large, distributed enterprise, it required deploying four to six different large products. After that was done, an advanced and experienced IT team then would need to stitch all of it together. But it didn't end there as finally, there was yet another layer to be added in order to create an intelligent AI-driven solution.
We realized that there had to be a better, more effective, and easier way. Security teams need to understand the context of identity, environment and behavior. Only then can you truly enable Zero Trust access and security policy enforcement for individuals, data, and devices beyond your enterprise network perimeter.
What problems does Elisity seek to solve?
Our enterprise, financial services, healthcare and manufacturing customers need secure access, connectivity, and security for resources in a way that can scale and protect the proliferation of devices, users and apps throughout their organization.
What gives Elisity the competitive edge?
Only Elisity can help you identify the unique characteristics of devices, apps and people no matter where they are and automatically and intelligently optimize security based on the risk posed by identity and behavior.
Who are your customers?
Elisity is working with visionary early customers, including GSK to co-develop the solution.
What does Elisity need in order to grow?
Our recent Series A funding round is enabling our next phase of growth to help build out the go-to-market team and customer success functions.
What is your growth strategy?
Elisity recently raised a Series A funding round of $26 million. The new funding is an incredible opportunity to change the way enterprises build and secure networks. With the funds, the go-to-market team is focused on building the business, improving the product and expanding customer success functions.
In which markets are you looking to establish your presence?
We are currently focused on the United States, but have plans to expand to Canada, EMEA, and Latin America in the next 24 months.
What are your plans in the coming 12 months?
We raised a $26M Series A to invest in building a world class go-to-market and customer success team, and plan on rapid customer growth in the next 12 months.
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