An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Raffaele Mautone (founder and CEO) of AaDya Security, which was honored in our:
- 2022 Best Tech Startups in Detroit
- 2021 Best Tech Startups in Detroit
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Detroit
Tell us the origin story of AaDya Security – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Throughout my career, I noted that cybersecurity options for SMBs were either watered-down enterprise solutions, or expensive options that were more than they needed or could handle, leaving many unprotected, putting their companies at risk. Instead of slowing down after my exit from Duo Security/CISCO, I threw himself into bringing to life what started as an idea, then a back-of-a-napkin sketch, to deliver an all-in-one solution designed for the needs of SMBs. After initial hesitancy from investors, we launched AaDya in March of 2019 through a combination of self-funding, angel investors, and VCs. To build our platform, we provided managed security services to 13 companies to understand their unique challenges. These design partners helped to build what is now Judy, an AI and achine-learning engine who works behind the scenes to deliver the platform’s key features: single sign on, password management, anti-phishing, endpoint protection, and automated threat detection/remediation. She also works up front as a virtual cybersecurity assistant who can support users with cybersecurity and IT related issues. This unique platform allows SMBs who lack the time, budget, and human resources to manage multiple point products to operate from a single platform that is easy to use and manage, making true enterprise-level security accessible.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
One of the biggest challenges AaDya faced was navigating running a company when the pandemic hit in March of 2020. Like many lean start-up companies, this was definitely a challenging time with so many unknowns. The proof of concept of our platform was due in May, Beta in June, and a plan to go to market in September. We were also in the middle of raising a second seed round of funding. After moving to fully-remote work, the team came together to both meet and exceed expectations for these milestones.
What does the future hold for AaDya Security?
The entire idea and mission behind AaDya is innovative in that it’s a territory that many of the major players in the cybersecurity industry have avoided due to its cumbersome nature and revenue potential. We see this differently. With the combination of a vast universe of SMBs who have been underserved and the rise in cybercrime against them, we saw an opportunity to not only create something innovative, but something that could truly help a segment that comprises the majority of economic activity, not just in the US and North America, but across the globe. The major differentiator for AaDya’s platform is that it combines everything that a SMB needs for security into one platform that is not only effective at protection, but provides tools that can help end users not only work more safely, but also more efficiently. It’s not heavy or cumbersome like traditional cybersecurity – it’s cybersecurity that doesn’t feel like cybersecurity. Because the SMB universe is so large, and because of the enthusiasm we saw from potential channel partners, we created a program for channel partners which is showing incredible growth and potential.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Detroit?
For Michigan to succeed and compete, Detroit must be viable and vibrant. We have an opportunity and obligation to impact change and help stop talent from leaving our state. There is an incredible startup scene in Detroit. It is being fueled by a legacy of innovation, amazing talent base, world-class universities nearby, and expanding venture capital availability. Startup leaders benefit from low costs, access to talent, central geographic location, and a grit and determination that is unmatched. There are dozens of hyper-growth startups in Detroit. Our city has been recognized as a launch point for these companies and continues to attract new companies daily. Companies don’t need a Silicon Valley zip code to launch a great tech company, and history will show that Detroit is a fertile ground for innovation and entrepreneurship.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Trust your gut but listen to other opinions. As a founder, you will have to do this daily because people will doubt you, the idea, or the team. You have to remain focused on the end result. This will build confidence day by day. When things go wrong, (this will happen), make sure you dissect it, learn from it, and move forward.