Seedfunders, a St. Petersburg-based investment firm, is adding the cybersecurity company Ultimate Risk Services (URS) to its portfolio.
The firm endorsed URS after the Department of Defense doubled down on cybersecurity regulations for every business, small and large, in its supply chain last year. Taking quick action, URS is changing its business angle to help smaller government contractors reach the levels of security needed to meet the new criteria.
URS is the first cybersecurity company to join Seedfunders’ portfolio. As the company grows, Seedfunders is hoping to expand its reach in the Sunshine State. The investment firm’s founder, Dave Chitester, is known for supporting St. Petersburg’s small business community, and for helping Florida grow its startup culture.
“Our investment thesis is to invest in companies that have a presence (in Florida),” Chitester said.
According to Ultimate Risk Services CEO Mary Andrade, the Pentagon will be using 34,000 auditors this year and next to ensure every level of its supply chain is compliant, which requires security infrastructure many of these businesses lack.
“We (URS) have a tool that allows every single small business to actually build within their structure the policies and procedures we have already formatted,” Andrade, who joined the company last October and lives in Southern Florida, told the Catalyst.
When companies work with URS, the cybersecurity firm provides software that simultaneously protects and tracks all security-related activity. The tracking component of this software helps companies meet the regulations required by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and to keep records for future audits.
Headquartered near Philadelphia, URS has served the small-business cybersecurity market for over 25 years. But Andrade is helping the team enact a “repurposing,” so they can respond to the strict regulations now required of nearly 320,000 Pentagon contractors.
In the meantime, URS is working to prevent increasingly advanced cybersecurity breaches and to prepare their clients for quickly approaching Pentagon audits by getting them up to NIST standards.
“We have clients that have come in and say: ‘I need to be NIST compliant. And I need to be NIST compliant yesterday,’” Andrade said.
One reason the U.S. government is taking such precautionary steps this year is because cybersecurity breaches are occurring lower in its supply chain, but still threatening high-level agencies.
Andrade used the security breach in Texas-based information technology company SolarWinds as an example.
In early 2020, hackers broke into SolarWinds’ systems and added malicious code that may have spread to 18,000 of its customers, including U.S. agencies like the Department of Defense and the Treasury. The breach compromised many high-profile figure’s security, and became a benchmark for how the government views the potential of such threats.
With support from Seedfunders, URS will keep preventing potentially catastrophic attacks in the future and keep expanding their business to serve smaller clients. Members of the investment firm are optimistic in the company’s new trajectory.
“The industry is just so huge because of the threats that are out there for total disaster if there’s any kind of a cyber security failure,” Chitester said.
Catalyst publisher Joe Hamilton is a partner in Seedfunders.