Where does cybersecurity compliance fit in a world of ‘moving fast and breaking things?’
Startups’ fast-paced, scattergun approach to business stands in stark contrast to the more staid, but critically important, world cybersecurity experts inhabit. While assessing and managing risk might not seem like the most exciting task, it can make or break milestones like client relationships and funding deals.
AJ Yawn is on a mission to, in his words, “make compliance suck less.” Why does it suck? Yawn explained that it’s boring, time consuming, and expensive. Yawn was also frustrated by the inefficiencies of audit processes during his years as a cybersecurity consultant. He described receiving a sea of SharePoint sites and screenshots, on top of emails and Excel documents. “It’s a lot of back and forth, and no one knows what’s going on,” he recalled.
It was in this context of clutter that Yawn began to develop ByteChek, a Miami-based startup that helps companies with their compliance needs. Whereas most companies engage with an external consulting firm when they are looking to prove their compliance, ByteChek offers a platform that ensures continuous compliance.
SOC 2 is one of the main auditing procedures that SaaS startups go through. ByteChek’s platform generates SOC 2 reports in conjunction with its in-house CPAs. Yawn noted that this “automates all of the auditing nonsense” by working as a one-stop-shop for compliance.
AICPA, the American Institute of CPAs, the body that regulates SOC 2 reports, has chosen ByteChek for its accelerator program. “We were the only cybersecurity firm selected,” said Yawn. “That was a huge moment for us back in February.”
The startup’s 3 full-time and 6 part-time employees currently serve 15 customers, including payroll platform Gusto and legal services company EPIQ.
The last few months have been a rollercoaster ride for ByteChek. In late May, Yawn signed a letter of intent to sell ByteChek to a competitor – just seven months after founding the company. In July, after months of due diligence, the deal was at the finish line. But just 48 hours before closing the deal, it became clear that the deal wasn’t going to happen because of Yawn’s non-compete clause from his former cybersecurity employer.
Yawn called it a “hard but wise decision” to let that deal go. It was also a potentially profitable decision, since another competitor sent in another acquisition bid shortly thereafter. But Yawn ultimately chose to stay the course, and take this early interest as validation that he and the team were on to something.
ByteChek is now looking to raise a seed round of $1.6 million (“or maybe even a bit more,” according to Yawn). That will enable the company to make the strategic hires necessary to grow its business, including a CTO, plus expanded customer success and engineering teams. Yawn signalled that he expects to hire locally, with a focus on sourcing talent from Miami’s various colleges and coding bootcamps.
“I think there’s some hungry local talent here,” he explained. “I want our team to be made up in a diverse manner that is representative of Miami’s culture.”
He continued: “I really take pride in being a Black founder, not necessarily because of me but because of the next generation. My being public and vocal about being a Black founder will hopefully inspire 10 more black founders to come out and start a company and take this chance, because it’s an amazing experience.”
Read more on Refresh Miami:
- Boca Code’s diversity scholarship program grows through partnership with Microsoft, Miami EdTech
- Strategio raises $2M seed round to launch new staffing model aimed at improving diversity in tech
- South Florida’s SYN Ventures launches $165M fund to invest in cybersecurity startups
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