ProtectBox: A comparative marketplace for infosec

20 Sep 2017

Khiran Bhagotra, CEO and founder of ProtectBox. Image: TechWatch

TechWatch’s Emily McDaid finds out more about a free service for SMEs that aims to satisfy their cybersecurity needs.

For a small or medium business, achieving the right levels of cybersecurity can be a minefield.

Invent 2017 finalist ProtectBox makes it easier for businesses by advising on the right mix of cyber solutions.

ProtectBox was incorporated in January by founder Kiran Bhagotra, who has been working on an initial service to launch soon. It aims to work a lot like

A business owner or IT manager enters a short-form response about its cybersecurity needs, and an algorithm returns a set of solutions customised to them. The business can then purchase the suite of solutions, or some of them, including things such as email protection, antivirus and anti-malware. Less obvious solutions such as training, cyber regulation and cyber insurance are also included.

ProtectBox will earn revenue through an affiliate marketing fee from suppliers, while the service remains free for businesses.

Bhagotra said: “Our algorithms give businesses a gap analysis, and we risk-score the gaps. The businesses can filter solutions based on price etc, and tailor it how they want.”

ProtectBox aims to be “low-cost, independent, simple to use”.

‘I’m hoping to break down barriers about what the people that work in technology should look like’

I asked Bhagotra whether ProtectBox has the large security brands on board, the likes of Symantec or McAfee. She said: “For a business like ours, it’s not about name-dropping, but a mix of all types so everyone is catered for, and still dynamic to new suppliers. That’s why we’re built to easily ‘plug and play’ aggregators and resellers.”

In a former life, Bhagotra promoted cybersecurity for the Cabinet Office and Foreign Office. She said: “At the moment, there isn’t a lot of cyber regulation but that’s where we’re going whether we like it or not, because of the unprecedented frequency of attacks, like those on the NHS.”

She’s had a diverse set of experiences, and is also passionate about fighting gender barriers in the technology sector. “I’m hoping to break down barriers about what the people that work in technology should look like.”

Bhagotra won second place in the Woman of the Year category at the Cyber Security Awards 2016.

How do security regulations fit into your business?

Businesses have to meet regulations, and governments need to see that their regulations are being enforced. Our search data will be beneficial to suppliers, giving data about where global businesses’ security demands are, and also to governments about what regulation works. I’m currently speaking to some international governments about possible collaborations.

What brings a mainland UK entrepreneur to set up shop in Northern Ireland?

The tech talent on the whole island of Ireland is very strong. Invest NI has been instrumental in our founding and they’ve been very open-minded about a cybersecurity-related service rather than a product. The tech industry in general is product-focused. The business culture here is supportive at building the export market.

What traction have you had to date?

We’ve spoken to hundreds of small and medium businesses across the UK, Middle East and USA, who are waiting to use our service when we launch. This is a very short time since our launch in January 2017 to have built a dual marketplace that aggregates other marketplaces. We’re also partnering with companies with thousands of small and medium business customers to act as sales channels.

What’s your personal background?

Before ProtectBox, I was a freelance consultant in government, investments, sales, operations and business development, and helped set up three companies like this one. I also trained as an investment banker, PR and a doctor before that. But I couldn’t do this without my team – experts in regulation, entrepreneurism and tech.

Any other information you’d like to share with readers?

To local angel investors throughout Ulster and the rest of Ireland, we’re close to completing our first funding round but still open to receiving offers of small SEIS or EIS investments – even £5k to £20k – for those who want to jump on board early.

By Emily McDaid, editor, TechWatch

A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch

The annual Invent competition is run by Connect at Catalyst Inc, and aims to showcase the best and brightest innovators that Northern Ireland has to offer. Invent 2017 will take place on Thursday 5 October in Belfast, where 12 finalists will battle it out for a £33,000 prize fund and the chance to attend a Northern Ireland tech mission to California.

TechWatch by Catalyst covered tech developments in Northern Ireland