When you’re chosen for not one, but two high-profile startup ventures, it would be easy to bask in the glow of accomplishment. But Intelliment CEO Sergio Pozo quickly discovered that his company’s experience in the Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) program was vastly different than any other program.
Intelliment enables enterprises across a variety of verticals to automate their network security policy management. Clients in technology, software, banking, retail and finance comprise most of the company’s business.
“We automate network security at scale,” explains Pozo. “In the networking landscape, the number of threats in the wild is increasing exponentially, so any misconfiguration in the security policy of the network is a door that opens the network to threats.”
Pozo and the Intelliment team joined the Cisco EIR program in Europe last year. Prior to joining Cisco EIR, Intelliment’s name and work had drawn the attention of other startup programs, including one of Europe’s leading accelerators. But Pozo quickly concluded that the Cisco EIR program had qualities that uniquely stood out from any other program out there.
“They work differently. The Cisco way is focused on joint go-to-market and joint value, and this is a good thing for companies like us,” he said. “Accelerators don’t usually provide much help on that side. The level of engagement is not the same as what we can get from Cisco business units. Cisco has thousands of customers, so if you can manage to build a joint value proposition with them, the scalability of that is awesome.”
Today, Intelliment has a variety of solid use cases under its belt, but like the majority of startups, they were met with challenges getting traction in the market. This is where working with Cisco has made a difference. Their involvement with the Cisco EIR program gave them the validation they needed to get enterprise customers and partners to take note of them.
“For a small company like us, it’s difficult to engage with large enterprises,” noted Pozo. “Companies like Cisco usually work directly with these enterprises, and with Cisco as a partner, it’s much easier and faster for us to engage with enterprises than going in alone. That’s a trust point for your organization and Cisco has already built the relationships that can help you. There’s no doubt that it’s much easier because of this.”
And those relationships have led to some significant recent milestones. The maturity of their technology and team earned them a spot with Cisco Security as a Cisco pxGrid Preferred Solutions Partner. This integration will help them better handle security at scale and automate the containment of network threats.
“We have learned how to develop a relationship with big organizations, and how different roles collaborate with each other. It’s a learning journey that’s not only creating value for us, but also for Cisco.”
Despite all of Intelliment’s accomplishments and the stature they’ve earned, Pozo is not entirely comfortable providing words of advice to other entrepreneurs. But with two huge deals in process in Spain, future competitors would be wise to heed what he does have to say.
“Before you apply, have a volume proposition in place before you start selling yourself to the program. Also have enough resources to work with Cisco for at least six months. It’s like any other accelerator program in that you get out what you put in — but, the more time you spend with Cisco, the better.”
Tags: entrepreneurs, innovation, innovative, security, security policy management, startups