An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with David Barzilai, the co-founder and executive chairman of Karamba Security, which was honored in our:
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Michigan
- 2019 Best Tech Startups in Michigan
- 2018 Best Tech Startups in Michigan
Tell us the origin story of Karamba Security – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Karamba Security was founded with the promise to help car OEMs secure their cars in the most pragmatic and scalable way, i.e. without creating any burden on their or on tier 1 R&D teams, and without delaying time to market.
Moreover, we believed that cars are arrays of IoT devices, and as such, may be protected in a deterministic way, without exposing consumers to false alerts, and without relying on updates, which may lag behind cybersecurity attacks.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
In the beginning, it was an educational hurdle. Karamba presented a different approach to protecting the vehicle against cyberattacks than almost all other players. Within time, customers learned about the value of Karamba’s approach and tilted ships to adapt their methods of cyber protection, as seen in recent product requirements issued by OEMs and tier 1s.
Currently, our biggest hurdle is fulfilling the demand for sales and support resources.
What does the future hold for Karamba Security?
It’s difficult to know in COVID-19 times. We have a a massive momentum going: We closed deals to secure 1M devices in the second half of 2019, and in the first quarter of 2020, we followed suit with other substantial deals that were awarded to Karamba. We’ve factored in 2 quarters of delays into our business plan, and expect to continue the momentum when customers return to work.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Bloomfield Hills?
We love it. There is a welcoming community in the area comprised of CVTA, CAR, community, and state leaders. They’ve embraced Karamba as a newcomer, and have been helping us to accelerate our market adoption and networking.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Always talk to customers. We spent 8 months on our own dime to qualify market needs, map the gap between customer constraints and existing solutions, and vetting a prototype.
When we finally received funding, we already had 3 customers validating and approving our solution. That helped us to raise money quickly and know how to use the proceeds in order to accelerate time to market.
Needless to say, the pace of customer interactions only increased when we moved to Michigan and opened offices in other locations. Customers always have interesting insights that you must compile into your plan as you are executing it.