Axis Security launched last year with the idea of helping customers enable contractors and third parties to remotely access a company’s systems in a safe way, but when the pandemic hit, they saw another use case, one which had been on their road map: helping keep systems secure when employees were working from home.
Today, the company announced a $32 million Series B investment led by Canaan Partners, with participation from existing investors Ten Eleven Ventures and Cyberstarts. Today’s round brings the total raised to $49 million, according to Axis.
Gil Azrielant, co-founder and CTO, says that the company was able to make the shift to a work from home security scenario so quickly because it had built the product from the ground up to support this vision eventually. The pandemic just accelerated that approach.
“We decided to focus on third parties and contractors at first, but we saw where the puck was going and definitely [designed] the infrastructure to become a full-blown, secure access product. So the infrastructure was there, and we just had to add a few things that were planned for later,” Azrielant told TechCrunch.
He says that the company’s product uses the notion of Zero Trust, which, as the name suggests, assumes you can’t trust anyone on your system, and work from there. Using a rules-based engine, customers can create a secure environment based on your role.
“What you can see, or what you can do, or what you can download or get to is fully controlled by our Application Access Cloud. This is based on what device you’re using, where you are, who you are, what role you’re in, and what you usually do and don’t do to determine the level of access you are going to get,” he said.
As the startup emerged from stealth last March just three days after the pandemic shutdown began in California, it had two main customers — a hotel chain and a pharmaceutical company — and CEO Dor Knafo says that as COVID took hold, “necessity became the mother of adoption.”
He added, “Both accounts came to us and asked us to start pursuing all these employee access use cases, and to us that was incredible because that gave them the push they needed to see the [remote access] vision just as vividly as we do,” he said. Today it has added to that initial pair, and, while it wouldn’t share an exact number, it reports it has tens of customers.
Today, the startup has 38 employees almost evenly split between San Mateo, California and Tel Aviv, Israel, with plans to accelerate hiring to reach 100 people next year. As the company scales, Knafo says that he is trying to build a more diverse group as it moves to hire more people in the coming year.
“Today, we have incentive internally to help us hire in a more diverse way. We invest heavily in that, and we continue to [keep that at top of mind] for everyone in the company,” Knafo said.
Azrielant added that the pandemic has shown employees don’t have to be located near the offices, which have been closed for much of this year, and that opens up more possibilities to build a more diverse workforce because they can hire from anywhere.
With a product that has much utility right now, the company will be using the new influx of cash to help build out its sales and marketing operations and expand sales outside of North America.
“With COVID accelerating and with a shift to work from anywhere, we’ll definitely focus on bringing our products to more enterprises, which are facing this urgent challenge of working from home,” Knafo said.