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Zoho Alumni’s Securden Raises Series A Led By Tiger Global; Looks To Take On Access Management Giants

Zoho Alumni’s Securden Raises Series A Led By Tiger Global; Looks To Take On Access Management Giants

The company has raised $10.5 Mn from Tiger Global, Accel and the Together Fund to expand its unified platform approach to access and identity management

Securden is looking to take on the likes of CyberArk, BeyondTrust, Delinea, Microsoft and other giants in the access security and governance space

Securden's founders Bala Venkatramani and Kumaran Balan began their journey at Zoho before taking the entrepreneurial plunge like so many former employees at the Chennai-based SaaS giant

Humans are said to be the weakest link in cybersecurity. No matter how secure a system may be through the use of hardware and software, it still requires people to manage access and this is usually where preparedness and processes often crumble. Of course, that’s why identity management, single sign-on (SSO) tools and access management platforms have become dedicated verticals within cybersecurity.

According to Fortune Business Insights’ ‘Identity and Access Management Market, 2021-2028’ report, the global identity and access management market size is projected to grow from $13.41 Bn in 2021 to $34.52 Bn over the next six years, at a CAGR of 14.5% between 2021-2028.

The likes of Okta, Ping Identity, ForgeRock, Duo, OneLogin and others have emerged as dedicated platforms for identity and access management, besides giants such as Microsoft (Azure Active Directory), IBM, Oracle. These players are typically looking to eliminate the pain-points that arise from human intervention by automating identity management, privilege and access requirements.

A Unified Approach To Access Security

Despite the presence of some giants in the space, Bala Venkatramani, cofounder and CEO of access security and governance platform Securden, believes there exists a gap because of siloed products that his company is looking to fill. And the key he believes is the unified approach to this space, which others are lacking and that’s why he decided to jump in with both feet in 2017, along with Kumaran Balan, cofounder and chief technology officer.

While companies such as Okta, Ping Identity, ForgeRock are not direct rivals, the startup competes with the likes of CyberArk, BeyondTrust, Delinea, Microsoft’s PAM/PIM/LAPS platforms.

Venkatramani says there are complete identity and access management platforms, password managers such as Zoho Vault and Bitwarden, and you have single sign-on solutions.

“We are playing in a different segment. There are some really good products in this space, but these other vendors don’t have a unified approach because there are various parts to privilege and access security solutions, which we call point products.” – Securden CEO Bala Venkatramani

Securden claims to be growing 20% month-on-month in terms of revenue and customer base in the past year, which has attracted venture capital giant Tiger Global. The Chennai-based company, which is also registered as a Delaware corporation in the US, has raised $10.5 Mn in its Series A round led by Tiger Global, with participation from Together Fund and the existing investor Accel.

Securden founders
Securden founders Kumaran Balan (left) and Bala Venkatramani


Together Fund is the $85 Mn VC fund led by Freshworks founder Girish Mathrubootham, Manav Garg, Shubham Gupta and Avinash Raghava. Mathrubootham, Garg, Accel, Axilor Ventures, and CaratLane CEO Mithun Sacheti had invested in the company’s $1.2 Mn seed round in July 2020.

Simply put, Securden and its competition enable businesses to prevent undue access of software, sensitive information and other data that is critical to the company. Besides access, privilege security means that while many individuals may have access to certain software or systems, only some will have rights to make changes or export data.

Venkatramani believes that the Series A round is vindication for Securden’s growth in the past year, but declined to share the annual revenue rate or the exact number of customers it has added in the past year, but talked about rapid customer adoption across 26 verticals in 2021-22.

With the fresh funds, the idea will be to expand the customer success team in India, while also hiring senior sales and operations leaders in the US, which is the primary revenue market for Securden.  Besides this, Securden has plans to expand into cybersecurity verticals adjacent to access and privilege management solutions that fit the unified approach, and add more modules to its platform as the needs of the market evolve.

From The Zoho School Of SaaS 

The two founders began their journey in the enterprise tech world at Chennai-based SaaS giant Zoho, and the founders can be counted among the dozens of startup entrepreneurs that have emerged from the Sridhar Vembu-led company, aka the Zoho Mafia.

In fact, Venkatramani exited the company in June 2017 as the product manager for Zoho Vault, which is the company’s password management tool, and dived into the access security segment full-time in 2018 with Balan as the CTO.

The idea was to combine critical security principles, privilege enforcement, and continuous risk assessment to prevent cyberattacks, malware propagation, and insider exploitation. The CEO recalls that companies — large and small — wanted complete control over privileged access, visibility on data access, and access governance across IT, DevOps, and cloud environments, so there was scope for scaling up across each of these verticals, or offering everything under one roof.

How Securden’s Taking On Giants

This all-in approach has served Securden well and helped it stand out among a sea of products, the cofounder claims.

Due to the fragmented nature of the competing products, enterprises have to deploy four or five different “point products” for a comprehensive privilege and access security systems. Securden offers native support for these point products and as a result IT and enterprise security admins get a full picture in one go, rather than having to dive into the point product silos and extracting data and then deriving insights from them.

Besides this, some offerings require specific personnel and resources to manage the access security systems. This is an additional burden on the customer, which a self-managed unified platform eliminates.

The unified approach is unique to Securden in this space, according to Venkatramani, because the competition might offer the full range of services, but this is thanks to acquisitions of smaller platforms.

“Their code base and architecture is different and hence tight integration is quite often not possible. With the unified approach, our breadth of coverage is vast and we can offer end-to-end access security needs without relying on third parties or other vendors.”

While there have been efforts, he adds that there are a lot of pain points in having a complete solution. Given that access management or privilege management systems are so critical, changes in architecture can often take years to implement and then training customers to use the new systems might even impact adoption.

Securden currently has a team of 30 in India, which it is looking to grow to 70 or 80 post the Series A, with engineering and customer support being the key focus areas. Customer support and success is more vital for SaaS companies than most people realise. “When we acquire a large enterprise customer, it is typically a particular division or project or team that adopts the product first. A customer success team is vital to unlock the long-term value we can offer,” Venkatramani adds.

The India Opportunity For Securden

Like many other cybersecurity platforms that have emerged out of India, Securden too has focussed primarily on the more matured markets such as the US, Canada, UK, Europe and Australia. While Securden claims to have a minor presence in India, Venkatramani says that India will always remain a priority and a major opportunity due to the fact that it is gaining maturity faster than other developed markets.

In the western market, Securden has a 50:50 mix of large enterprises as well as mid-market companies and emerging tech giants. The former usually opt for the three-year contract, while the relatively smaller customers subscribe for annual contracts. The company claims to have a 97% retention rate among both cohorts.

SaaS startups might find great traction in the US and other advanced economies, but the long-term growth will come from finding ways to crack the Indian market. The problem, according to Securden’s Venkatramani is that the Indian customers need a greater degree of hand-holding and guidance, and this adds complexity to customer support and might even require Securden to change its self-managed approach.

“The evaluation cycle is obviously kind of long in the Indian market. It takes at least a few months for the final purchasing decision from businesses. It requires a different kind of scalability, but it definitely presents a great opportunity going ahead.”