Market signals to pivot Products: In conversation with Umesh Thota, founder Authbase

CIE brings to our Deeptech community,
Fire Up Founder Insights series 2nd edition, kickstarted today by our COO, Mr. Ramesh Loganathan as the host. The series is brought to you as a part of Startup Gyan Blog series by CIE-IIITH  where we feature our founders and talk about their Startup status and the journey so far through conversation on specific topics useful for other Deeptech startups and the community at large.

In Conversation with Umesh, founder Authbase:


Coming from a Solopreneur, Authbase is a Cybersecurity Startup that offers an Enterprise AI platform in threat mitigation space. The Platform uses Deep Learning and Machine Learning to identify and mitigate attacks on the network layer. In a period of three and a half years, the Startup has won several prestigious awards such as TiECON TiE 50 SiliconValley, CB INSIGHTS Top AI Cybersecurity startups, HOT100 Technology Awards, just to name a few.

The conventional tools such as Firewall and Antivirus relies on rules and signature-based threats and either takes time to recognise a threat or completely fail to do so in case of a novel attack. That’s where Authbase come into picture. The threat could be mitigated in real-time using the AI platform.

According to Umesh, Cybersecurity is one space where you do not have to worry about data. Hence building an AI around with multiple relevant use cases made sense to the team.

  “There’s not just one needle in the haystack, the entire haystack is full of needles”

A walk down the Pivots’ journey:

The initial idea was to detect the flaws in the network and web and give recommendations and later moved completely from web to a focussed network based tech.

“While everyone was trying to get into Vulnerability Management, what we did different was to show which one will get hit first”

Soon after, the first pivot happened when the team realised that there is more that they could offer catering to the client’s need, beyond insights and to the point where the action of blocking the targeted attacks could take place. This, along with the experiences gained through numerous international Startup and Cybersecurity conferences, led to the evolution of the product and positioning into the market.

“Your customers are the best way to build use cases”

Eventually the team built a platform where the customer could drag and drop their own  use-cases as runbooks. This empowers the customer to use the AI platform without fearing the disruption in their Businesses.

What were the market signals you looked for and where?

Before getting into a blind search for prospects, the team looked into the Market reports, which are mostly accurate and give you an indication of what to expect industry-wise. Secondly, Identifying market leaders, competitors and niche players and dig deeper into these to understand what is the status and where they are heading. Thirdly, going after very specific customers – typically who respond faster because that shows they have a need over luxury.

“In the last couple of years, the Cybersecurity budget rose to 22% of an Enterprise’s IT budget which earlier used to be at 4%”  

This made the selling part easier for Cybersecurity firms and Startups because everything that a firewall missed, the platform caught. The idea behind selling was twofold – one where the need for customers is solved and another one where the time is saved.

To summarise, the recommended Market signals and channels to look for are:

  • Why did customer buy your product, and why not
  • What are the existing problems for customers in your space
  • Take the Top-to-bottom approach for building connects as it is easier, get access to senior leaders and grow your network
  • Find people who are interested in your technology or specialisation so that you get an excited channel within the customer company

Signals could be observed and picked through:

  • Distribution channels & partners
  • Trusted relationships with customers
  • Conferences and meetups where peers and players are present
  • Be seen as an expert in your area such that people reach out to you for advise and you too learn in the process
  • Seek and meet the customers who said no to your product at events or gatherings
  • Reach out to innovation leaders of bigger organisations, they are more inclined to have a conversation or hear you out

One growth hack for other Startups:

Find a Peer group where you could be a Devil’s advocate for yourself and others. Not like 12 Angry Men, but more like The Great Debaters 😀
Watch the complete interview for some cool anecdotes and fun facts!

Keep watching this space for more under Fire Up Series.
Stay safe and sound!

– Sunita Kumari, Team CIE