Students' "Cybersecurity Factory" to help launch start-ups

Two MIT CSAIL PhD students, Jean Yang and Frank Wang, are launching an eight-week summer program that provides the capital, mentorship, and other resources and support needed to launch successful security startups.

Those accepted to Cybersecurity Factory will be granted office space in Kendall Square, and a $20,000 investment from sponsor Highland Capital Partners. But the financing doesn’t necessarily end there: Highland has the option to invest up to $250,000 in the first $1 million raised in excess of the aforementioned $20,000 note. On top of that, startups will be paired with both an academic mentor, who can offer guidance on technical aspects, as well as a seasoned industry mentor, who will give feedback on the actual product.

Yang told BostInno that all industry mentors they have been considering for the program have either started their own security firms or are in managing roles in some major companies. They are aiming to announce the advisory board sometime within the next week.

By the end of the summer pilot, startups will boast a market-ready product validated by not only their mentor, but also a customer demo and a fine-tuned customer pitch. Beyond that, the program has set a stretch milestone: to raise seed funding within three months of leaving the Security Factory.

The early decision deadline to apply for Cybersecurity Factory is April 23 at 5 p.m., and the regular decision deadline is May 7 at 5 p.m. Yang says that there is no max number of companies that the program will cap off at—the acceptances will depend on the applications received.

Cybersecurity Factory is searching specifically for early-stage technical startups, preferably with at least one co-founder who is currently in a PhD program or has completed a PhD in a topic related to the company’s focus.
Image of male hacker via Shutterstock.