CEO Debbie Gordon
NASHVILLE tech-centric entrepreneur Debbie Gordon has founded Cloud Range Cyber LLC and will soon establish the startup's Cyber Range cybersecurity simulation training venue in Davidson County.
Though the CEO told Venture Nashville she is "strongly considering" raising outside capital, for now Gordon is the sole owner of the business.
Cloud Range provides cybersecurity education and live-simulation practice sessions, mainly for commercial enterprises and for talent or workforce development organizations. The company registered in Tennessee 100 days ago.
Though the venue has been secured, Gordon is not yet prepared to disclose for publication the planned location of her Nashville Cyber Range, where her instructors will conduct training sessions.
Nashville Cyber Range training sessions are likely to begin in 1Q 2019, she said. Going forward, the majority of the company's Cloud-based sessions will be instructor-led online.
Cloud Range Cyber's training curriculum was created by engineers who work under contract for Gordon's firm.
Company marketing materials provided VNC explained, "Cyberbit Range provides an up-to-date selection of simulated attack and ransomware scenarios. Trainees operate in real-life settings by accurately replicating their network setup, using their actual security tools and simulating their typical network traffic..."
Gordon confirmed that her venture relies on simulation technology licensed from Cyberbit, an Israel-based company that has an Austin-based subsdiary, Cyberbit Inc. Cyberbit is a subsidiary of listed Elbit Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ+TASE:ESLT).
A dozen or more Cyberbit Cyber Ranges have been established globally, including one inaugurated in Baltimore in 2017.
Gordon said that ongoing discussions with distributors and prospective users of the Cyber Range have produced a substantial pipeline of qualified sales prospects. Cloud Range is marketing via technology distributors who in turn support value-added resellers to enterprise customers.
The CEO explained that she did not seek outside capital for her previous tech-centric businesses and she has sufficient access to working capital for near-term Cloud Range needs.
However, she said that given initial market response to her plans for Cloud Cyber, plus what she's learned about responses to Cyberbit-enabled Cyber Ranges in other regions -- outside growth funding may well be warranted.
She said she would be advised in securities matters by Chris Sloan of Baker Donelson.
Interest in cyber simulation training is spurred by the perpetual need to recruit or train-up more workers with security operations center (SOC) and related skills; the shortage of corporate facilities for instructor-led training sessions, and other factors, said Gordon.
She said that she and partner Cyberbit have also found that potential enterprise users and their communities recognize that Cyber Ranges represent infrastructure that can, in turn, help expand the local tech employment base and help economic-development recruiters bring more tech-enabled companies to Middle Tennessee.
Cyberbit's website says its technology platform represents "the first unified, end to end, detection and response platform that protects an organization's entire [cyber] attack surface" -- terrain that spans information technology (IT), operational technology (OT) and internet of things (IoT) resources.
Gordon said that she currently sees no direct competitors for Cloud Range, but she acknowledged that potential competitors include Denver-based and KKR-backed Optiv Security Inc.; Boulder-based Circadence Corp. (owned by Japan-based Pacific Century CyberWorks, PCCW); and, smaller firms, such as Franklin, Tenn.- and Cabot, Ark.-based Metova Federal (CyberCENTS), among others.
VNC research shows that a range of tech companies young and old are exploring bundled and unbundled cybersec simulation options, including Microsoft, AT&T and AttackIQ, to name a few. Also, though it does not seem a direct Cloud Cyber competitor at this time, decades-old cooperative SANS is holding a cybersec conference in Nashville, later this year.
Gordon, now 46, is a native of Albany, N.Y. She came to Nashville to study at Vanderbilt University in 1990 and has been based here, ever since.
After earning her bachelor's in human and organizational development at VU's Peabody College, Gordon worked several years in Nashville for units of Aspect Software, a provider of technology for call center operations.
In 2003, she launched SnappyAuctions, which owned, operated and franchised eBay dropoff and sales-support stores. Her first location was in Green Hills, where 2004 topline sales totaled about $500K, according to media coverage at the time.
By 2006, she had nearly 60 franchisees and they had stores in nearly 30 states. A 2010 story said Snappy then represented about $18MM in topline consignment sales. The company also had a master franchise owner in Japan.
Gordon said that after initial rapid franchise growth, efforts to prepare Snappy Auctions franchisees to shift from emphasis on consumer services to management and recycling of business assets proved largely unsuccessful.
By the official end of the Great Recession in mid-2009, Snappy lines of business had been wound-down.
For a time, Gordon continued the B2B Snappy Sales Solutions portion of her business, which evolved into S3 Asset Management, focusing on technology recycling and disposition of laboratory and medical equipment.
In 2016, she sold that business to an investor group that included her former director of operations. The successor business, S3 Recycling Solutions, is now controlled by Chairman Darrell Freeman (who in 2017 sold his Zycron Inc. IT recruitment and services firm to Plano-based BG Staffing Inc.); and, by directors including CEO Rod McDaniel and investor John Hopfensperger, the latter the founder and CEO of CMK Properties. S3 team listing here.
Gordon continues to accept speaking and training engagements mainly for chapters of the Entrepreneurs Organization and remains active as an EO Nashville member. Her training and coaching practice is Master Key Development LLC, according to her LinkedIn.