Bryson Bort founded his first startup, GRIMM, after finding inspiration on a plane. With only a cocktail napkin at his disposal, he outlined the company’s first product right there on the flight. For a few years, Bort knew he wanted to start a company, but he had been waiting for inspiration to hit.
Now, four years later and going into his second venture, Bort is finding inspiration in something different: his clients.
Launching today, SCYTHE, a spin out of GRIMM, creates customizable cyber solutions for companies looking to protect their data from breaches. The best example of what they do is probably in its founding story.
At GRIMM, the team focuses on testing out potential new technologies to either find potential vulnerabilities or solutions. Products run the gamut from traditional software to Internet of Things tech to automobile tech systems. Eventually, a Fortune 50 company approached GRIMM for a different service. After a breach, the company was looking for a cyber solution that would allow them to adapt their protections as hacks advance and their security needs change. No one satisfied their need. No one, until GRIMM.
That’s when the lightbulb went off for Bort.
“I realized that this was in fact a product, and I went back and asked them for the intellectual property,” Bort said. “We’ve been off to the races ever since.”
That was a year and a half ago, and in that time, plenty of research and development has gone into the idea for SCYTHE. Today, with funding and support from GRIMM, the company is launching with its signature product, CROSSBOW, a platform to let any clients create the custom cyber solution they need.
SCYTHE’s initial clientele are Fortune 500 companies who have the budgets to play around and test out different cyber solutions. With the launch today, Bort said they’ll be beginning to acquire new customers in the next few weeks. But eventually, Bort wants to be the cyber company aimed at small businesses. Few companies cater to their needs, he said.
“We tried to build something that took a lot of complicated, technical things and made them transparent to users,” Bort said. “In the future, where we’d like to go, is making this tool so much easier where [the] reporting that comes out automatically makes recommendations and puts the solutions in place. So it becomes that a small business owner could use.”
“If you don’t believe in, if your heart doesn’t beat for it every single day, then why are you doing it?”
SCYTHE is starting as a team of about 10 employees, and Bort said they plan to close what is projected to be a $2 million funding round in the next three-to-four months. Bort will become CEO of SCYTHE, and he will remain at GRIMM as chairman. Brian DeMuth is now CEO of GRIMM. However, the two companies are still closely linked.
“Passion is the most important component,” Bort said of founding both GRIMM and SCYTHE. “If you don’t believe in, if your heart doesn’t beat for it every single day, then why are you doing it?”
Starting his second cybersecurity startup was never in Bort’s plans. He began his career in the U.S. Army, focusing on tactical network support, and his plan was to spend his career in the Army — that was until he was medically discharged. Bort didn’t have an idea for his career past that, so he took the first job he could find with a British aerospace and defense company. From there, he found himself at ManTech, a federal contractor which most recently acquired InfoZen, a competitor.
Bort knew he wanted to start a company. That’s when the story of the plane, the cocktail napkin and the idea comes in.
“The ethos of the entrepreneur as a single man or woman standing on the mountain with their idea and making it happen through sheer will power is false,” Bort said. “It’s a team. It’s not just a team of your company and the engineers, it’s also the network of all the great folks out there who help you.”
Flash forward four years. Bort has his eyes set on his goals for his second cybersecurity startup. But he’s also looking at his role in the community a bit more closely. Moving forward, he not only wants to acquire more clients for SCYTHE, but Bort also wants to start giving back to some of the up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the region.
“Besides being yet another security success story in this region, I would love to take that momentum and be able to give back in a more structured way to the community,” Bort said.