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Simplifying the dizzying world of business cybersecurity

Strata wants to help companies without big security teams

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When I started PreSeed Now two years ago, I didn’t intend to write every edition.

But finding freelance journalists who understand the intersection of early-stage tech and investment well, and can write clearly about it, is trickier than it might seem.

So until today, only one edition has been written by someone else.

Today’s startup profile is brought to you by Kirstie Pickering, whose other writing credits include Sifted and UKTN, so you’re in good hands as we introduce you to Strata.

But first:

  • I’ll be at Climb24 in Leeds on Wednesday and Thursday this week, including a stint onstage moderating a panel on the pre-seed and seed space on Thursday afternoon. Say hi if you’re around!

– Martin

This issue of PreSeed Now is brought to you by EHE Ventures.

Known for backing high-growth tech, EHE just announced they're building a £15m AI tech fund, and have finalised their core Fund Advisory team. The fund itself seeks to support and accelerate the growth of AI technologies, empowering the brightest minds in tech at pre-seed, seed and Series A.

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Strata has a simpler way to navigate the dizzying world of business cybersecurity

Strata’s cybersecurity platform

In summary:

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by Kirstie Pickering

The cybersecurity needs of businesses have become increasingly complex over the past decade, with organisations using multiple clouds, working from home becoming the norm, and more third-party providers to monitor.

Chris Burtenshaw, founder at Strata, has witnessed these complexities unfold after spending his entire career to date working in cybersecurity. He soon realised that security teams at businesses were clamouring for tools that offered visibility and consistency as pressure grew to keep atop of changing demands.

“Your average security team–whether that's one person or even 100–spends so much time trying to understand what they've got and what state it's in, for a variety of purposes,” says Burtenshaw. 

“This responsibility spans from making sure that everything's good before they head home for the weekend, through to providing detailed data for audits and compliance.”

To address this problem, Burtenshaw launched Strata Security Solutions in 2019. It aims to help practitioners in this increasingly complicated field–be they a CSO, head of information security, or, in small companies even head of IT–to answer the plethora of questions they face daily, like ‘what assets have we got?’ ‘Is everything patched?’ ‘Have we got antivirus?’ And the list goes on.

“My passion here is helping teams that are perhaps underserved to deliver better security consistently, because if we can automate checking off that long list of questions, it means the teams can focus on their day job and the security is sorted as best as it can be,” says Burtenshaw.

How it works

Strata’s key goal is to simplify cyber protection for security teams. It achieves this through its capabilities in asset visibility, automated checks, compliance, and reporting.

“We're using a data driven approach to streamline things like daily operations and management oversight by getting metrics and showing your status against best practice, and then audits. Without our product, there are lots of manual processes,” says Burtenshaw.

Setup can take just a day and involves bringing a company’s data sources and infrastructure onto Strata’s platform. This means it has the data to, for example, run its AI-powered analytics against the company’s environment and give them the intelligence they need.

Burtenshaw is proud of the “slick” onboarding process his company has orchestrated, removing the need for thousands of hours of consultancy time – which can get very expensive, especially for small businesses on slim budgets.

“Customers have got an operational view – this is where they can use our platform to look at the status of assets involved in incidents or to identify gaps,” he says.

“For example, they can use our platform to see a list of unprotected servers, assets, phones and so on.”

The next level of offering centres around the metrics. Data that's informing the daily activity of a business is given a score against best practice, such as for encryption and patching. Again, Burtenshaw flags the time-saving element of his platform here – to give that overview to an employee, he says, could be two to three weeks worth of work. 

The metrics also offer monthly and quarterly oversight capabilities, which can provide users with the data they need for regular IT and risk reporting.

“The third stage is audit and compliance, where either senior management or internal or external auditors can get access to that same data and be assured that, for example, you're compliant with Cyber Essentials [a government-backed scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common online threats] or PCI Security Standards, which is a globally recognised information security framework,” says Burtenshaw.

Strata founder Chris Burtenshaw

The story so far

Burtenshaw’s cybersecurity career began at a defence research company and security services provider, before moving on to join a small company that provided services to big banks – and, later, a stint at Deloitte.

“The problem we solve at Strata is what I saw in all of those organisations,” says Burtenshaw. “I've spent lots of time in operational security teams, consulting teams and delivering products to those organisations.”

Burtenshaw launched Strata Security Solutions in 2019 as the sole founder and landed his first paying client in early 2020, which he notes as a significant milestone. Now, Strata is made up of a team of five and is looking to expand.

“We've been slowly and organically growing since 2019 as the company is bootstrapped,” he says. “What we're trying to do is go from bootstrapping to that 'hockey stick' curve type of growth – which, of course, requires investment.”

And there’s more!

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