Fuelled by a new round of funding, Ottawa cybersecurity firm Crypto4A is getting set to take the next step in its scaleup journey under the leadership of a seasoned tech veteran it found right in its own corporate boardroom.
The five-year-old company announced Monday that John Scott is moving into the CEO’s suite effective Tuesday. Scott will replace Crypto4A co-founder Bruno Couillard, who is stepping down from the post to focus on his duties as chief technology officer.
As chair of the company’s board of directors for the past three years, Scott watched as the fledgling business matured into an established operation with 35 employees.
After repeatedly urging Couillard to hire a full-time CEO so he could spend more time on the technology side of the business, Scott said the company eventually took his advice.
“And here I am three years later eating my own cooking,” he said with a chuckle.
“Knowing the company, knowing the space, having a long relationship with them, it led to the natural conclusion that I would step in and become the CEO.”
Crypto4A’s technology revolves largely around cryptography, which Couillard once called the “foundational element” for securing information from cyber attacks.
The firm develops hardware upon which other firms can build their cybersecurity products. Its previous projects include partnering with Ottawa-based partner Bluink, which developed a mobile electronic ID app that’s now used by customers across Canada.
Hosting and deploying sensitive software like Bluink’s usually requires access to a locked-door data centre, but Crypto4A’s security processing application allows its partners to sell their own products to customers without the need for bulky, expensive on-premise hosting.
'Mini data centre in a box'
“What we’re doing is basically wrapping these applications in a very secure shell. Sometimes I refer to it as a mini data centre in a box,” Couillard told Techopia Live in 2018. “We’re able to pack all of the security you’d find in a regular data centre in a single appliance.”
As devices from cars to coffee-makers become more connected to the internet, and ultra-fast 5G networks promise to accelerate the explosive growth of wireless data even further, Scott said Crypto4A’s solutions are more important than ever to help customers stay one step ahead of the bad guys.
That presents a world of opportunities, as Scott knows well. As he sees it, his job is to make sure the company stays in its lane, so to speak, and channels its energies into the markets that offer the best chance of success.
“The issue is making sure that we’re going about this in a very methodical way,” said Scott, a former partner in a Toronto law firm who later spent nearly a decade as chief executive of Ottawa-based network security provider 2Keys.
Friends-and-family funding round
“The intelligent thing is to focus on the right areas. It’s like the old military phrase: ‘Selection, aim and fire.’ For us, the keys will be selection and aim. We can do a lot of things for a lot of people. We’ve got to make sure that we’re doing them from the right foundations first and then hope that that allows us to scale.”
Money shouldn’t be a problem, he added, noting the firm recently closed a “generous” round of friends-and-family funding. That followed earlier contributions from the federal and Quebec governments and the Capital Angel Network.
“We have lots of runway at the moment,” said Scott, who lives in Toronto and plans to commute to Ottawa on a regular basis. “The key for me … is it’s such a large potential addressable marketplace (that) I’ve got to make sure that the money is spent wisely in a few focused areas.”
At the same time, Scott said that securing a larger round of venture capital will be essential to ensuring the company’s long-term success.
“It’s early days, but put that as one of my top priorities,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re durable.”