February 24, 2021

Startups & VCs in InfoSec w/ Will Lin

by Cyber Ranch

Show Notes

In this show, host Allan Alford interviews his friend Will Lin about startups and venture capital. Will Lin is a venture capitalist with ForgePoint Capital, focusing exclusively on the information security space. First and foremost, Will views his current role as a way to help others. Allan welcomes Will on to the show to help his listeners learn more about the startup world, the venture capital world, and how those two intersect. The show starts with Allan asking Will why he thinks startups are such a prevalent force in the cyber security world. Will is not sure, but his hypothesis is that this is in large part due to the ever-changing nature of cyber security. Since needs are constantly changing and each organization has unique needs, startups have popped up to address those specialties and change based on the different needs that arise. His second hypothesis is that there always need to be organizations prepared to address new and emerging threats to security. For VCs, Will shares that companies and startups go through very natural progression in terms of maturity depending on their framework. Regardless, what it all boils down to is where in their life cycle any organization finds itself. Once the VC is able to identify where the company is in their life cycle, then they can begin to make informed decisions about the company. This will determine the type of funding that VCs will decide to provide. For example, usually when a company is around 10-20 members, they will be looking for series A funding. Typically, series A funding is around 10-25 million dollars, series B is 20-40 million and series C is 50 million and above. By evaluating the total of the investment, observers can estimate the valuation of the company. While most companies only do a few rounds of fundraising, some companies will experience several late rounds of fundraising and Will advises that this is typically a good thing. The best indicator of health is the number of employees. If the number of employees is going down, that is one of the clearest indicators of regression. Once a VC comes in, though, that is where they are able to lend their experience to help with advising the business, which is Will’s favorite part of his job. To close the podcast, Will shares that being able to help people and add value to their companies is the thing that keeps him energized and engaged in his position. Key Takeaways: 0:24 - Listeners are introduced to Allan Alford and his guest, Will Lin. 1:27 - Why do so many people in the security industry rely on startups? 3:29 - What does Will do in his job and how has his background led to his current role? 5:36 - From Will’s perspective, what is the critical split between the first round of angel funding 9:33 - What is the expectation for funding in each different series of investments? 15:19 - What does the VC ownership look like from the perspective of the company? 21:22 - Does Will offer specific advice to the startups that he works with? 24:00 - What is Will’s opinion on startups that grow without any assistance from VCs? 25:48 - What keeps Will energized in his job? Links: Follow Allan Alford on LinkedIn and Twitter Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio and The Cyber Ranch Podcast Learn more about Will Lin on LinkedIn. Sponsored by our good friends at Axonius