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NZ cyber security education company closes $2.3m seed round

By Shannon Williams, Wed 13 Oct 2021

SafeStack Academy, an online training platform dedicated to improving software security, has raised NZD$2.3m in a seed round to further develop and grow its product. 

Australian venture capital firm Jelix Ventures has led the round, made up of a strategic group of New Zealand and Australian investors including Carthona Capital, K1W1, NZGCP Aspire Fund, and NAB Ventures.

This funding aims to capitalise on SafeStack Academy's early traction, which includes reaching almost NZD$500,000 ARR in its first 12 months of operation, and serving 57 companies in 6 countries.

According to founder and CEO Laura Bell, since its launch in September 2020, SafeStack Academy has earned a reputation for building security skills and culture across entire engineering teams by offering flexible, high quality, and people-focused online secure development education. 

Rather than targeting specific programming languages and technologies, SafeStack Academy teaches secure design and architectural practices that integrate earlier into the software development life cycle, securing a wider range of teams and technical environments.

Operating on a simple subscription-based model charged per learner, per year SafeStack Academy makes it easy for teams to start weaving security into their development practices, whatever their size, maturity, or budget.

"With an estimated 30 million software development professionals worldwide, increasing by around 1.2 million per year, this space is growing at an astonishing rate," says Bell.

"It's a critical time for security education, as w'ere seeing illustrated by increased security incidents in all parts of the world. It's more important than ever that we build in security from the start if we are to protect our data, systems, and people," she says.

SafeStack Academy creates a sustainable security culture based on empowerment, not fear, helping teams build the confidence and peace of mind to innovate, grow, and go faster, safe in the knowledge that they're building security into their ways of working. By bringing together easy to navigate learning pathways that lead to industry credentials, hands-on labs, and an interactive community, SafeStack Academy supports learners to grow their skills and share solutions to common challenges. This approach has resonated strongly with its investors and customers alike.

Marcus Henderson, NZGCPs Aspire Seed Fund Investment Director says, "Due to the increasing frequency and scale of cyber threats to business and society weve been actively looking for great early stage ventures in this space to support. 

"When we met Laura and Safestack Academy they really impressed us with their passion for solving this problem and the active customer base they have already started to build, including a number of well-known and reputable New Zealand businesses," he says.

"Having now completed our first investment into SafeStack Academy, we are really excited to be a part of their investor group helping them develop and grow the company throughout New Zealand and internationally."

Leading New Zealand ecommerce platform Trade Me was an early SafeStack Academy customer, with head of security Kate Pearce saying cyber security is about growing people and supporting culture. 

"Having SafeStack Academy's training in place leads to a safer company, stronger security of our products and customer data, and ultimately supports Trade Me's position as one of our country's most trusted brands."

Through strong and focused leadership, Bell is committed to taking a more inclusive and diverse approach to the traditionally male-dominated cyber security sector, which carries through into SafeStack Academy's style of education.

Her highly collaborative team largely made up of women and fully remote across New Zealand and Australia focuses on creating supportive, blame-free learning environments that help everyone grow their cyber security superpowers, no matter their background or experience level.

This approach includes offering security and privacy awareness training to help businesses upskill their teams on essentials like ransomware, phishing, and data handling.

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