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How this 23-year-old founder secured 500% revenue growth, and bagged $6.5 million in funding to boot

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Kasada

Kasada founder Sam Crowther. Source: supplied.

Cyber security startup Kasada has raised $6.5 million as it gears up for growth in the US market, headed up by 23-year-old founder Sam Crowther.

The funding comes from Main Sequence Ventures, the venture capital firm of CSIRO, and Westpac’s venture capital arm Reinventure, which is a repeat investor.

Main Sequence Ventures founder and general partner Mike Zimmerman will also join Kasada’s board of directors, to help guide the startup’s growth in the US.

Founded by Crowther in 2015, Kasada provides web security services to protect from user account takeovers, fraud, data scraping and other disruptive attacks.

Its Polyform product detects and mitigates malicious web traffic, to protect businesses from bots that could otherwise go undetected.

In March last year, Kasada raised $2.5 million from Reinventure and Our Innovation Fund.

Since then, Crowther tells StartupSmart the team has been working on growing the customer base and refining the product “to get it ready to start really scaling”.

It has also expanded into the US market, with the founder himself moving to Chicago in December to launch a new office.

In the past year, the startup has grown its revenue more than 500%, Crowther says.

It has also doubled its headcount to about 20 people, “and we’re looking to almost double again in the next 12 months”, he adds.

Ahead of the curve

According to Crowther, the raise comes at a time when the startup is solidifying its understanding of its customers and market.

“We’ve seen enough of the different use cases now, and we understand the typical customer,” he explains.

“This will mean we can start to invest to get ahead of the curve in terms of our customer function.”

There is also increasing awareness in the market of the kinds of issues Kasada sets out to address, and the funding will help the startup take advantage of the surge in interest.

“People are becoming far more attuned to the issue and realising what it actually means for them,” Crowther says.

The funding will mainly be used to grow the customer sales and support teams, and to invest in the engineering staff, in order to fuel growth in the US market.

“Our goal is to really hit the US market hard over the next 18 months and grow as much as possible,” Crowther says.

A team effort

As the founder of a B2B startup, Crowther partly attributes Kasada’s success to the immediate benefit the product bought its customers.

“We obsessed over making sure we had a product that solved the customer’s problems, but also solved it in a way in which the value was realised almost immediately,” he explains.

This quick time to value also meant companies taking a chance on a startup could make decisions around the relationship more quickly. And having these companies on board also contributed to the startup’s success, Crowther says.

“We were very fortunate to find, in the very early days, customers that were willing to give a smaller company a go,” he says.

“That’s a big part of it.”

The founder also says he’s been “lucky enough” to have a strong and passionate team on board.

“The people who joined us very early on have been amazing at helping grow the business as well,” he says.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without that right core team in place … every one of them being so committed to the success of the business,” he adds.

Crowther advises startups to get those kinds of people on board as early as possible.

The road isn’t going to be easy, he warns, and so from day one, founders should surround themselves with people “that are motivated by a greater and more altruistic goal, as opposed to just making money”, he adds.

“Find people who can go outside their comfort zone … who can operate outside the realms of their expertise and feel comfortable making the best decision they can without necessarily having all the information.”

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].