At 7 a.m. one March morning, Nancy Shemwell’s phone rang.
It was a friend from the investment group TWV Capital, and they had just made a play in a company called Entegra Technologies. It was a perfect startup, her friend said. They had a
good product in rugged tablets that were used in industrial and military environments, and all
they needed was a CEO.
But the tablet wasn’t all that interested Shemwell in the company. It was the potential, through a combination of the patents, team members and technology, to make a play into a much, much larger market — cyber security solutions. “The tablet is a great product and will continue to evolve that great product,” Shemwell said. “But the patents within that, and the technical approach, are allowing us to say, ‘OK, we have a use for you in our environment, but you’re just the baby step.’”
Cybersecurity is at the forefront of public consciousness. Every day the public hears about another company being hacked, like when the Omni Hotel said last month its Dallas location was hacked with point of sale malware. The political world was also set ablaze with controversy after emails featuring DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz were leaked by suspected Russian hackers.
Shemwell took over as CEO on May 1 and before that was the chief operating officer and owner at DataSpan. She’s held numerous other executive titles in her career and she’s credited with bringing the first voice over IP product to market at Nortel Networks.
She has help, too. Dallas-based Entegra has a PhD in computer science who’s also been an executive at IBM, John Medellin, who understands how to take mass deployments to markets. And the market for cyber security is a big one, as Shemwell said there are currently four billion unprotected devices.
Shemwell declined to share revenue figures, but said the growth potential for her company is exponential. The company is in stealth mode so she was vague in talking about what exactly the new product is beyond it being a cyber security solution that protects the ICS infrastructure, the initial market thrust, all the way to the edge and will launch in the fall.
The launch will coincide with the company’s Round 3 funding, which will be used to commercialize the product. “Ninety days in and I am far more excited to be here than 90 days ago,” Shemwell said.
To talk more about the company’s new direction, Shemwell sat down with the Dallas Business Journal.
What’s unique about the cyber security market?
Traditionally, a startup looks at how you take the technology and then create the market for the technology. But what’s unique is that in this particular environment, we’ve got the market exploding around us so fast that to even raise to the opportunities in front of us is really difficult.
People are now understanding the personal threat to them as individuals. These investors are trying to manage this as heads of corporations as the threat to the enterprise and the enterprise value. You think about being a member of the Target board when they were attacked and that value lost. Or, the nation and the threats they’re under as rogue nations are focused on ‘How do I impact the water supply? The utility grids?’
What obstacles do you anticipate in your growth plans?
We need to build up a team quickly. We need to build additional resources. We need to leverage and take advantage of this opportunity because it’s not one of those where, ‘If we get to it two weeks from now it’ll be ok’ because this is a realtime to market challenge. And it’s being driven in a way that I have never seen in the industry before.
Y2K might have been a little bit of that, but even then you had an end point. You knew when you had to have something done by. Nobody knows when they have to be totally secure, because they have no idea when they're up. This is just moving at the speed of nothing we’ve ever seen.
Why do you think you can do cyber security better than anybody else?
I don’t believe there will be one solution to solve cyber security. There are going to continue to be those traditional applications and advancement in those applications to secure and detect what’s going on in the market. What we can do is put a very significant enhancement into the market. And the
reason why I think we have a very solid advantage is that we have partnered with someone that has developed the capability in a very secured environment — which I can’t go through — but it’s a very hardened, battle-tested, secured environment that has been tested over the pace of 19 years and never been broken.
So I have the agility and the nimbleness of a startup, and I have the experience of something that has been tested in the world’s most critical networks.