An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Yossi Appleboum, the co-founder and CEO of Sepio Systems, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Sepio Systems – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Sepio was founded in 2016. We are headquartered in Rockville and we have two R&D centers: our core center in Tel Aviv, Israel and our machine learning center in Lisbon, Portugal.
The founders of the company started their careers in the Israeli Intelligence Community in the beginning of the 90s. We’ve been working together since then and since the late 90s, we’ve been building cybersecurity companies, maturing them, and then selling them. After two successful exits, we started Sepio with the mission of protecting organizations against malicious hardware attacks.
We realized that even though hardware attacks have been around for many years, there was still no good solution for stopping them. All the organizations in the world are exposed to such attacks but have no protection against them. They cannot mitigate and, in many cases, don’t know the risk and their exposure/liability to the results of such cyber-attacks.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Running an innovative technology company that brings a solution to an, in most cases, unknown problem is always a challenge. The story of our lives has been bringing a solution to an unheard of problem, convincing others that there is a problem (a major threat in this case), and then convincing them that our solution is the correct solution. It takes years to educate the market but, upon succeeding, the value is great.
What does the future hold for Sepio Systems?
Since starting Sepio, we’ve realized that our mission is bigger, way bigger, than we initially assumed. Hardware attack kits were once considered national top-classified strategic cyber weapons, but in the last 5-6 years, these secretive attack tools have been stolen from the government agencies. Now, cyber criminals have them and they are using them against commercial targets such as banks, insurance companies, power companies, telecom, and more. We are building a company that currently brings a good solution for mitigating these attacks, but there is still way more to do. On the marketing and sales front, we are penetrating more and more customers all around the world. Just recently, we’ve been approved by the DHS for their prestigious CDM program. On the product offering side, we keep enhancing our solution, mitigating new threats, and strengthening our machine learning capabilities.
We are here to stay, to grow, and to become a leading cybersecurity player in the global cybersecurity market.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Rockville?
I’m an Israelite, having moved here 5½ years ago as part of the acquisition of my previous company. Rockville became my home and now it’s my company’s global headquarters. I have friends and colleagues that are leading or working in tech companies here and we all enjoy the benefit of proximity to the other business and technology hubs in the area, the accessibility to the relevant government agencies in DC, Virginia, and Maryland, and the availability of experienced human resources.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I don’t know if I can give my own advice, so I’ll give two pieces of advice I’ve received in the past:
- Disruption is a blessing – many will push back and many (too many) will not understand. Just push harder and succeed.
- Most entrepreneurs fail. It’s a fact. The ones that succeed embrace failure, fix, and restart.