Slava Bronfman is an experienced cybersecurity and automotive leader and entrepreneur. As CEO of Cybellum he is responsible for the business, sales, and marketing operations, working with automotive OEMs and suppliers worldwide to implement risk assessment solutions.
As part of founding Cybellum’s development of a novel cybersecurity risk assessment technology,he is the official representative of the Standards Institution of Israel in the ISO 21434 standard technical committee, leading ISO21434 Use-Case TF.
He is also a member of the NTIA Software Component Transparency working group, working on future standardization of Software BoM.
He is an automotive software risk Assessment and ISO\SAE21434 evangelist, regularly presenting in automotive conferences and organizations.
He holds an M.Sc. In Computer Science, Cum Laude, and a B.Sc. in Information Systems, Cum Laude.
Cybellum enables automotive OEMs and their suppliers to continuously manage their cyber security risks.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Slava says:
Because we live in a global world and it’s very easy for companies to reach their target market over social media and video calls, they are misled into believing that they can expand into any market without having a local presence. I believe that this is a mistake and will take your business only up to a certain point in the market you target.
Identify a real need in the market, a true pain point for your customers, before you decide to build a product and raise money.
Read on to know more about Slava Bronfman and his journey.
Please tell me about your personal background and What motivated you to get started with your company?
Slava Bronfman: I started my cybersecurity professional career in the Israeli army. Being part of the cyber intelligence force and learning state of the art cyber methods and technologies was the best education I could get.
During my military service, I also met my friend and co-founder of Cybellum, Michael Engstler, we aim to automate one of the most interesting and challenging tasks in today’s defensive cyber world, the cyber vulnerability detection in connected devices.
What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
Slava Bronfman: Cybellum product is based on a Cyber Digital Twin platform. Cybellum engines scan the closed firmware of connected devices (e.g., ECUs) and create a digital replica that holds all the device’s software bills of material (S-BoM) and its characteristics, including configuration and software flows. By doing this, we expose what is naturally hidden, the internals that lie within any specific software-based component like the infotainment system in the car, the MRI scanner (cutaway), or the smart electric meter. We then allow the security teams to research the findings and validate that there are no gaps in their vulnerability and security policy.
On top of the Cyber Digital Twin Platform, Cybellum has two products, one for performing a full risk assessment of the digital twin in terms of software vulnerabilities, alignment with security standards and regulations, etc., and another for the on-going security operations, monitoring the digital twin of the device or component through its lifespan. The security suite as a whole provides full risk visibility and on-going risk management for the product security and the security operation teams.
How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Slava Bronfman: We have raised $15M, including our recently announced Round A
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fund-raising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far, and how did you meet these investors, and which channels worked best for you?
Slava Bronfman: Our latest funding round was our series A. In this process, our investors wanted to see proven traction from the market, alongside a solid and inspiring vision, and a base of customers who are willing to pick up the phone and testify on how Cybellum enables them to develop and produce secure products and maintain their security posture over time.
So once we had achieved these milestones, we were ready to meet investors.
We first started with our Seed investors, who showed their confidence and confirmed that they would participate in the coming round. Then we ventured into the global investment community, with the help of the Israeli Export Institute, which has helped arrange meetings with foreign investors. RSBG was one of the first companies with whom we met, and they were very quick with their due-diligence process. It took less than two months to complete the entire process.
What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
Slava Bronfman: The milestone would be an extensive customer base, with significant commercial contracts in place, and proof that this is a growing trend.
The goal for us is to build a big and sustainable company that will help great product security teams around the world to achieve their goals.
How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
Slava Bronfman: Being the only company that offers a full cycle of automated vulnerability management, from planning through production and to operative product lifespan, gives us a real edge. Quality is the best differentiator you can aim for, and happy customers are the key.
Most of our business so far has been based on word of mouth.
Our first customers have quickly become our advocates, introducing us to their peers. This, of course, serves our product strategy as well as our revenue stream. Our investors have also helped in opening relevant doors. We are now establishing our GTM team to enable further global expansion.
Which has been the best marketing software tool for the growth of your startup, and why?
Slava Bronfman: Knowing your target audience and understanding their needs and challenges is the key to a successful marketing strategy. And then, combining both online and offline channels ensures that we reach our customers and prospects wherever they are. Our product does all the work from that point onwards. We have a network of local distributors representing us in relevant geographies, and we support their efforts with innovative content marketing and social media channel marketing.
How do you plan to expand globally?
Slava Bronfman: We are big believers in thinking globally and acting locally, meaning we are building a global strategy and always thinking about the expansion to additional markets; however, the way to do it is to have a local presence in each market, with the right people and partners.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global expansion?
Slava Bronfman: Because we live in a global world and it’s very easy for companies to reach their target market over social media and video calls, they are misled into believing that they can expand into any market without having a local presence. I believe that this is a mistake and will take your business only up to a certain point in the market you target.
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Slava Bronfman: We have frequent management and board discussions to evaluate the situation and plan our expenses and strategy quarterly to react with agility to the changing environment around us.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?
Slava Bronfman: It is finding a problem with the solution they invented.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Slava Bronfman: Identify a real need in the market, a true pain point for your customers, before you decide to build a product and raise money.
How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
Slava Bronfman: Seeing Cybellum growing every day and working with an amazing group of people keep me energized and highly motivated.
What are the top- three life lessons that you want your (future) sons and daughters to know?
Slava Bronfman: Just to enjoy the ride. 🙂
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