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The Undercroft aims to make Ybor City a cybersecurity hub

Margie Manning



The Undercroft in Ybor City

The founders of a coworking/colocation space for the cybersecurity community have turned to Kickstarter to raise capital for an expansion.

Adam Sheffield and Chris Machowski, founders of The Undercroft, a member-driven cybersecurity guild and development center, want to raise $10,000 to add a multipurpose media studio. They’re already about one-third of the way to their goal.

Additional funding would allow them to build out a “community sandbox,” with donated equipment to test and research malware and to prototype new products, Sheffield said.

The campaign ends on June 30, the same day The Undercroft plans a grand opening.

The goal is to make Ybor City a national hub for cybersecurity, said Joy Randels, a local entrepreneur, founder and chairman at Applied G2 and New Market Partners, and a board member at The Undercroft.

Sheffield and Machowski have spent the past year creating The Undercroft’s space. It occupies 15,000-square-feet in the second-oldest building in Ybor City and includes private offices, 12 dedicated desks, two conference rooms, two training/meetup bays, a courtyard and multiple shared common areas.

They’ve been operating in stealth mode until now and have primarily bootstrapped the effort, with the help of a Small Business Veterans Express loan from Bank OZK, Sheffield said.

When complete, The Undercroft will support and empower a diverse community of cybersecurity professionals and students, a news release said. Backers plan to organize and host a wide variety of events, classes, and workshops, and to produce security focused content.

It’s the first facility of its kind, Randels said.

“It brings together every aspect of cybersecurity from industry leading technology companies, to individuals, to startups, subject matter experts and people that are wanting to learn. No one else has ever done this under a single roof,” she said.

Through spaces like The Undercroft, people can move beyond formal learning to understand how they fit in to the larger cybersecurity community, said Nathan Fisk, assistant professor of cybersecurity education at University of South Florida and an advisor to The Undercroft.

Building a secure and collaborative working environment isn’t easy, Randels said.

“At the end of the day the reason it works is because we all share the same goal, to secure our future,” she said.

Also serving on The Undercroft’s board is Major Gen. USAF (Retired) David Scott, who’s been active in backing technology development in Ybor City.

The Undercroft also is partnering with USF to host a cybersecurity camp for high school students this summer.

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