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2019 Innovation Sandbox finalists

Next month at the RSA Conference (RSAC), entrepreneurs, cyber warriors and a ragtag mob of security practitioners will scratch their start-up itch in San Francisco. There they will compete, network and be entertained by a battle for the ultimate prize. These Shark Tank-style competitions are the closest thing security startups have to the Super Bowl.

Our daily routines, security tools and the buzzwords chased for resume-building will be defined by the trends on the RSAC expo hall floor this year. Of course, the new tech on display will have been years in the making. If you want to see farther out into the future and watch our industry’s luminaries debate and conceive of the next big thing, come a day early and watch Innovation Sandbox.

Months ago, aspiring entrepreneurs submitted video pitches and met one-on-one with judges, hoping to sell their late-stage startups as worthy of the top ten. This process of selecting finalists is simply beyond reproach. Innovation Sandbox has been around for 15 years; a whopping 42 percent of finalists from its first ten years have been acquired. Finalists in the past five years have received $1.5B in funding. All but 5 percent of the finalists are all still running.

Those numbers bode well for 2019’s finalists: 

The founders of these ten companies will battle it out live on the RSAC stage in front of a massive audience and a feisty panel of judges. Each founder will give a 10-minute pitch and then respond to tough questions from the judges. This back-and-forth banter is one of the most entertaining parts of RSAC. In the end, two finalists are chosen, and the final winner goes home with the ultimate bragging rights.

RSAC is also introducing a new competition. Held the following day, LaunchPad is for early-stage startups. A pure Shark Tank-style competition, three founders will chase funding live before a panel of venture capitalists (VCs). If the VCs like an entrepreneur’s pitch, they will in turn compete live to secure an investment in this up-and-comer.

CSO spoke with three Innovation Sandbox judges to learn how they pick the technologies of the future.

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