The “magic” for startup leaders to work on, rather than in, their businesses

After 12 weeks of combining NCSC technical knowledge with expert commercial mentors, startup networking opportunities and the vibrant Cheltenham cyber ecosystem, the most recent NCSC For Startups programme has now ended.

One participant described his time with us as “an honour and a delight” with other graduates adding their praise for the “wonderful” and “supportive” consortium team that runs the programme alongside the NCSC and Plexal, including Deloitte, Hub8, CyNam and QA.

Our innovative graduating startup intake includes:  

  • Acubed.IT  supports the public sector to ensure the UK’s ever-evolving cyber security is top priority, providing a novel security product for solving complex cross-domain problems. 
  • coc00n secures the personal devices of high-profile and high-risk individuals and their families against cyber-attacks. Devised and operated by cyber security experts, coc00n comprises a suite of uniquely architected technical products, configured to provide 24/7 whole of device protection against cyber-attacks. 
  • Cyber Tzar delivers cyber resilience with its online Cyber Risk Management platform. Providing dynamic, data-driven insights, it empowers businesses with effective remediation pathways through empirical vulnerability scanning, cyber security profiling and scoring.  
  • MemCrypt  takes a new approach to prevent and reduce the impact of ransomware attacks by supporting recovery of encrypted data to remove the need to pay any ransom.   
  • RevEng.AI  is building foundational AI models for understanding the contents and behaviour of software supply chains. 

When we spoke to these startup innovators about their reason for joining the programme, Wayne Horkan, Head of Technology and Engineering at Cyber Tzar, shared: “We’ve seen it transform other people and we wanted some of the magic for us.” He added: “The consortium team is wonderful. They provide you a huge amount of support.”

Of the location, Stephen Thomas, Senior Associate at Acubed.IT, said: “The Cheltenham ecosystem is energising and brings together the right people.”

However, it was one particular phrase from Lucy Burnford, CEO at coc00n, that stood out to us as she detailed: “[NCSC For Startups] allowed us to think more about working on our business rather than in our business. Which at the stage we’re at has been really beneficial.”

Often a startup will find themselves firefighting through countless different tasks, roles and responsibilities that they must take things one day at a time rather than having the luxury of more long-term planning. This got us thinking about how one of the more unsung benefits of the NCSC For Startups programme is, in the words of Acubed.IT, “an opportunity to spend time thinking more strategically”.

From a Plexal perspective, Sarah Carr, our Innovation Lead and Programme Manager, said: “I really enjoyed seeing how much the entrepreneurs loved taking time away from the everyday business side of things to observe how to define their value proposition and also gel as a team.”

Our Innovation Associate Rosie Clutson added: “It’s been such a joy working with these startups. Knowing we’ve helped provide them with the expertise, time and space to build a strong, strategic foundation and long-term plan despite being relatively early stage is the icing on the cake.”

To enable the startups to work strategically on their businesses, it’s important NCSC For Startups is a safe space to explore and test new ideas. Therefore, to hear Luke Smyth, CTO at coc00n, describe the programme as an “open, productive and collaborative work environment” is particularly rewarding.

coc00n also emphasised: “[The team] has benefitted greatly from refining how we structure the presentation of our products and services and the help around presenting it. We’ve also made valuable strategic and commercial contacts whilst on the programme.”  

Sharing his experience, Pete Jaco, CEO at MemCrypt, noted that the programme was a great opportunity to “test our assumptions around our technology with NCSC technical architects and many other experienced and knowledgeable people in the UK cyber space.”

It’s encouraging to hear how NCSC For Startups enables innovators to take a step back to build on and strengthen the foundations of their business. We believe that getting this valuable headspace is part of the reason why Amit Gupta, CEO and Founder of Acubed.IT, described the programme as “one of the best things that’s happened to Acubed”.

A big congratulations to our graduating founders as they enter our NCSC For Startups alumni community! We look forward to providing this opportunity to more innovators as another round of businesses join us in January for the next NCSC For Startups programme.

Find out more thoughts from the departing intake of startups below with CyNam’s End of Programme Showcase.

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