This startup is not your average high-tech startup. Onyxia, which came out of stealth today (Thursday) is quite unique. For starters, it was founded by a woman though it relates to a very male-dominated industry. Moreover, it had one founder, not 2-3 like we are used to seeing. These two factors are very rare in the startup world, but we will get to that later.
Stop acting retrospectively
Tehila's new startup is called Onyxia, and in an interview with Geektime she explained that it is intended for CISOs; she wants them to be more proactive rather than reactive when it comes to situations that arise. "At the staff level, there is a shortage of manpower. Therefore, there must be prioritization and there must be automated ways to maximize the capabilities of security teams. At the level of process management, today the majority is done manually… At the technological level, there are many solutions and traditional products that have been in organizations for a very long time, but they are often irrelevant. If we look at large companies and organizations with hundreds and thousands of employees, it seems that over the years more and more information security products have been purchased without future and strategic planning. The approach is usually that core security products are seldom abandoned even if they may potentially not be effective. At this time, they cost the organization a lot of money and in many cases also generate more work and noise for the security teams.”
So, Onyxia offers teams to forego the consulting companies and external consultants that perform the tests for an organization, and instead, use automation and artificial intelligence to provide them with the information they need such as insights, tasks, risk assessments and ways to manage and fix various security problems. "We help information security managers to be strategic, plan ahead, and be proactive. We take care of the three elements we mentioned: teams, technologies, and process management. "All of these increase the organization's information security and save it money," says Tehila. "What sets us apart is the fact that we remain loyal to the corporate strategy and derive all our insights and recommendations to the information security managers from there. We're not just talking about offloading and measuring performance separately but connecting these elements as part of the strategic view that the platform enables at the level of automation of processes.”
Onyxia came out of stealth today with a respectable seed funding round of $5 million led by World Trade Ventures, with participation from Silvertech Ventures and other angels.
Why did you choose to start the company on your own? It’s hard enough to establish a startup with co-founders, let alone by yourself, especially since investors tend to not like solo founders. Did you feel these gaps in your choice?
Tehila: "I founded the company at the age of 34. Since the day I enlisted in the IDF, I have been in the field of information security at the most challenging professional levels, whilst also learning about the cloud and changes in information security. I have held senior positions in cyber companies, and I am happy that throughout my career, I have been exposed to so many issues. I decided that I would rather invest the time in locating strategic investors, than in locating a founding partner. Throughout the process, I realized that in the U.S. there is more openness to this than in Israel, but the bottom line when dealing with investors is mostly based on trust. My investors believed that based on my professional background and experience, the fact that I am a sole entrepreneur is not a significant risk and there are also many advantages to this, such as the fact that I can make decisions quickly regarding the team and product.”
We also do not see many women entrepreneurs, especially in the cyber field which is a male-dominated field. Did you encounter difficulties along the way?
Tehila: "I have never seen the fact that I am a woman as an advantage or disadvantage. I must acknowledge the fact that throughout the professional process I went through and raised the capital, I certainly felt a lack of women in the field. There are almost no women on the side of the investors either. The fact that there are no female investors coupled with the fact that the few women investors there tend to invest less in other women regardless because women tend to take fewer risks and when they see a female entrepreneur, they don’t want to take a risk with her. This is how a chain is formed that makes it difficult for women to break through. Despite this, I surround myself with professional women in various fields. Every day, I am very active in exposing women in the cyber world and promoting women in cyber. I developed a program in high schools in New York to promote and educate women in cyber. Even in my hat as head of the faculty for master's students at Yeshiva University, I put a lot of effort into encouraging women to join and acquire an academic education in the field, while developing a career.”
The dragoness who turns into a human
Tehila is not a new player in the high-tech field. She has over a decade and a half of experience in the field of information security, and after serving as an information security chief in the Intelligence Corps, and CISO in the research division of AMN, she also worked at Perimeter 81, among other things. “I am solving a pain that I felt whilst working in the field which is why I fully believe in it. This is what drives me forward and gives me the motivation to continue towards the goal. I believe that every entrepreneur should understand what the source is of his or her motivation and what is his or her goal. When these two things are clear, it is much easier to neutralize background noise and move forward faster.”
Tehila founded Onyxia in 2022, which employs 11 people in its offices in Tel Aviv and Manhattan. If you don’t recognize the name of the startup, it is one of the characters in the super-popular game World of Warcraft. Of course, we couldn't help but ask her about the meaning of the name, and Tehila explained to us that this is her favourite character in the game, which is also what linked her to the cyber world: "The fact that she can change from being a dragon to a human according to the changing environment is related to what we do: we give a dynamic security strategy and provide insights accordingly. There are many elements in the development of the product that we took from the world of gaming, and I believe that this is another way for us to stand out and distinguish the platform. Not another boring product or another dashboard with graphs, but a place that is fun to return to and leaves a taste for more... even in the world of security, which is often considered boring and gray.”
So, to all you entrepreneurs out there reading this: we want fewer generic names for your next startups. Thanks!