As a build up to the RSA Innovation Sandbox competition for securities startups, e27 and RSA Security LLC will be conducting a series of interviews with the winners of the Innovation Sandbox competition held in the US. We will be talking about their achievements and gathering helpful tips for prospective entrepreneurs.

Eight out of 10 applications that you download from Google Play may be disclosing personal information to third parties. The apps that aggressively and often unnecessarily collect data leverage potentially dangerous ad libraries, and 35 per cent of these apps contain malware, according to McAfee’s Mobile Security Report for 2014.

As such, not just with mobile, but internet security as a whole has become an increasingly prominent topic for individuals and organisations wishing to keep their data confidential or their transactions secure. In this case, it is great timing that the RSA Conference APJ will be returning to Singapore this year on July 22 and 23, 2014 to talk about cryptography and information security. The conference is an established event that began in 1991 where the brightest in the field of information security would discuss the landscape’s information security opportunities and challenges.

The conference consists of two parts: the talks on a variety of topics and a vendor expo. Individuals may submit topic proposals to RSA Conference online, which are reviewed and selected to partake in the conference by an independent panel of judges that make up the programme committee. The organisers of the event are from RSA Security LLC, which is the security wing of EMC Corporation.

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It is held annually in Sans Francisco in the United States but the organisers have decided to focus increasingly on Asia Pacific and Japan since 2013. During the conference this year, they will be introducing the Innovation Sandbox programme for cyber-security startups and early-stage companies in the region to showcase their solutions.

The Sandbox is a melting pot of innovation
What is Innovation Sandbox? It is an incubator for new technology and ways of thinking, particularly in the information security domain. Participants will have the opportunity to meet industry experts and other senior individuals who can provide actionable feedback and guidance on their ideas. During the event, which is part of the two-day conference, attendees are able to view demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies and solutions.

Kicking off the RSA Conference APJ on July 21, five shortlisted participants will present and compete for the title of ‘Most Innovative Company’. The winner will be announced on the same day, and all five teams will have the opportunity to exhibit during the conference. A representative from the winning team will also be flown to the RSA Conference 2015 in San Francisco, California to be part of the US event. The organisers would encourage students from tertiary institutions within the region to participate in view of the rising interest and emphasis of information security courses.

Innovation Sandbox has claimed to have seen great success among security startups and entrepreneurs in the US, with the winner of the 2011 Conference — Invincea receiving a US$16 million investment from Dell last year.

e27 interviews the winners of past Sandbox competitions for their views on the conference and some piece of advice for the prospective startups in the sector.

Skyhigh Networks — 2013 finalist
Skyhigh Networks  took part in the 2013 Innovation Sandbox programme in the US and was nominated as a finalist. It is a cloud security company that was founded by serial entrepreneur Rajiv Gupta in 2011.

Cloud visibility and enablement company Skyhigh Networks helps organisations to embrace cloud services with appropriate levels of security, compliance and governance. It can discover the cloud services being used by employees, analyse usage patterns to detect anomalies and malware, as well as encrypt data stored in the cloud. When it finds irregularities, it can provide encryption, access control and other security features.

Its customers include BMC SoftwareCiscoCreative Artists Agency (CAA)Diebold and DirecTV — that use Skyhigh to manage their ‘cloud adoption lifecycle’. Currently, some of the larger internet security companies such as IBM and McAfee have products that address this cloud adoption lifecycle.

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The venture capital firm Greylock Partners invested US$6.75 million in March 2012 in private equity, according to Crunchbase. In May 2013, Sequoia Capital led a Series B round joined by Greylock Partners, to invest US$20 million in the company, as reported by Forbes.

In an interview with the company, Skyhigh Network claimed that the experience in participating in the Innovation Sandbox competition was excellent. When it entered the competition, it had already received funding and been covered on leading tech media sites such as Forbes and Techcrunch; however, Gupta claimed that the company was at the perfect stage to enter the competition as it was just getting launched and the exposure helped a great deal. “It also would have been valuable if we had been at a pre-funding stage because the exposure attracted high calibre venture capitalists,” he noted.

He claimed that the discipline and introspection required to be compelling yet succinct in the written answers, video and presentation were a very useful exercise, especially for an early-stage company. It used the Innovation Sandbox experience as a way to refine its message, hone its value proposition and compete against the world’s most exciting new technologies and companies.

Gupta said that the company’s biggest challenge is to keep hiring at the current rate, while maintaining the quality of people it needs to keep up with the market demand and opportunities. Additionally, securing partners is also important as they are an extension of the company; it is crucial to find partners that align with the company’s goals, objectives and values.

As the internet integrates with daily life, the RSA Conference APJ committee and e27 are working together to cover a series of stories on how startups are finding new ways to help organisations and people maintain their privacy and security. Interested participants can submit their entries on the Conference website here. The call for submissions will close on June 6, 2014.