Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Shark Tank' Program Will Put St. Louis Cyber Industry on Display

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Shark Tank' Program Will Put St. Louis Cyber Industry on Display

Article excerpt

Paulo Shakarian started a cybersecurity business in Tempe, Ariz., but he says recent visits to St. Louis were what really got the company off the ground.

Shakarian, founder of CYR3CON, came here this spring and summer for a business development program run by investment firm SixThirty Cyber. He's one of a dozen cybersecurity entrepreneurs who will pitch their businesses to venture capitalists and potential corporate customers July 26 in a "Shark Tank"-style program hosted by World Wide Technology.

That program will place a spotlight on a small but critical St. Louis sector that's working to raise its visibility on the national stage. Participants will include venture capital funds from Chicago, Palm Beach, Fla., and Palo Alto, Calif., along with St. Louis-based SixThirty Cyber.

Corporate "sharks" evaluating the startups will include information-security officials from Emerson, Monsanto and Spire. John True, a general partner at SixThirty Cyber and Cultivation Capital, another St. Louis venture fund, says an engaged corporate customer base has been important in building a cybersecurity industry here.

"It has positioned St. Louis as being a little different," True said. "We've been able to coordinate all these cybersecurity experts and buyers in one place. You go to New York or San Francisco, those folks don't communicate or collaborate nearly as much as the folks in St. Louis do."

Shakarian, whose software uses artificial intelligence to analyze communications among known hackers, was mentored in St. Louis by several people with corporate experience. By helping him think about how customers might use the product, he said, "They really helped us. We have a night-and-day difference in our sales process."

St. Louis is the headquarters of a group called the Security Advisor Alliance, whose members are the top information security officers at large corporations. …

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