This Delhi-based startup looks to secure online businesses with its ready-to-use solutions, enabled by humans
Shikhil Sharma, cofounder and CEO, Astra Security
By Srinath Srinivasan
Delhi-based Astra Security is one of the few Indian startups to specialise in cybersecurity and offer ready-to-use solutions. Its solutions range from firewall to fixing hacks to offering specific customised solutions based on the client’s requirements. The firm, which is a team of around 20 people, runs a cash positive business with a runway of 9-10 months of cash reserve to tackle tough situations like the recent pandemic. This has been possible because of two key factors.
“One important reason to have a strong business is our customers usually pay us for a whole year and so we have a strong base,” says Shikhil Sharma, co-founder and CEO, Astra Security. “The other one is, co-founder Ananda Krishna and I like to automate a lot of processes internally which saves time and cost.”
Interestingly, the first ever lead and paying customer for the company came in as a result of automation. “We wrote a twitter bot to search tweets globally for the words ‘hacked’ and ‘website’. We would then jump into the conversations and offer them to clean up the hack. This way one such conversation converted into a paying customer,” shares Sharma.
Being a cloud-first company, the idea of automation reflects in the products and services the company offers. For instance, it claims to clean up hacks and secure websites in a matter of 1-4 hours with 100% success rate and simple integration.
According to Sharma, in today’s cyberspace, this is not just a differentiator for its business but also an essential for online businesses. “Typically, online businesses today have 4-5 vendors. Their websites are not solely built and maintained by one party. Beyond the security offered by the cloud platforms, it becomes important for these businesses to have checks and security at every stage across every vendor. This is where we help them,” explains Sharma. Currently, with more and more online businesses coming up, there is a huge scope for cybersecurity companies to capture the mid and small segments with affordable solutions.
During the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, some of these businesses closed. “At that stage we saw a sudden dip in our business as well. However, when things stabilised, the business bounced back and multiplied. The demand for security also went up,” says Sharma. As observed by the startup, hackers used the panic caused by Covid-19 to come up with new ways of attacks which continue to date, touching upon sensitive issues like vaccine campaigns and remote work. Sharma believes with the help of exponential technologies like AI and ML, the new ways can be spotted quickly and stopped before it’s too late.