Startup Success: SpydrSafe

The Startup Success series features interviews with regional entrepreneurs who received funding from the Dingman Center Angels investor network. Click HERE to see a full list of companies that presented and received funding from the Dingman Center Angels during the 2011-2012 year.

SpydrSafe’s mobile security platform, SpydrSafe Mobile DLP™, prevents corporate data breaches from employee-owned devices (BYOD) by providing enterprise IT departments with the tools necessary to safeguard corporate data. SpydrSafe Mobile DLP™  delivers app-level protection for all data on Android smartphones or tablets. Keep reading for an interview with SpydrSafe CEO Michael Pratt.

How did you get the idea for your business?
Myself and my co-founder, Kevin Sapp, both worked in the mobile security/mobility space for 6 years or so before founding SpydrSafe. We kept abreast of how the market was developing and the needs that were unmet and SpydrSafe’s genesis came out of that process.

Why a startup?
Why not?  We’re addressing a “new market” with unmet needs – startups are a natural way to do this.

What phase is the company in?
We’re still early and pre-revenue, albeit we plan to “cure” that by releasing our first product in the market on October 1, 2012.

As a startup, what are some of the greatest challenges you face?
If you’ve been in the startup world as long as Kevin and I have been, the over-riding challenge is always funding. It’s a long, continuous process for a startup. The other challenge is “biting your tongue” when an energetic, but not-so-knowledgeable VC who doesn’t understand the space, or have portfolio companies in the space, and in many cases doesn’t do early stage deals (why are we having this meeting again?) spends most of their time telling me all the reasons why what I’m doing won’t work.

What was the Dingman Center Angels review process like?
To be brutally honest it was a bit tedious – and I still don’t understand why startup companies have to pay to present at these various venues. But at the end of the day, it’s just part of how the game is played. As someone once told me, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the prince.

What do you think about the current state of the entrepreneurial community in Washington DC and Baltimore?
As someone who has visited both coasts and spoken to VC’s in both locations, I’d say that DC/Baltimore is trying very hard to become known as “Silicon Valley East” but they have a very long way to go to get there. It’s more than just one or two “homeruns” that make a region (e.g., AOL – too many years ago now; and Living Social). It’s an attitude and an understanding that what’s important in an entrepreneurial endeavor is the idea (it has to be large enough to be interesting to them) and the team (seasoned, enthusiastic, focused).  What is NOT important is ARPU (average revenue per user), but it’s almost always the first question we hear. So, the “entrepreneurial community” in this region is really a “later stage” environment. I guess it’s less risky than startups/early stage companies but as long as the collective mindset in this region is “we like to see traction before we invest”, it will never be Silicon Valley East.

What advice would you give student entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?
Focus, focus, focus.

Michael Pratt has sixteen years of startup experience with six years in the mobility field. He has held C-level positions with companies including CardStar (acquired by Constant Contact in 2012), Trust Digital (acquired by McAfee in 2010) and Galt Associates (acquired by Cerner Corporation in 2006)

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