RSA Conference is where the world comes to meet Security. For the last 14 years, the Innovation Sandbox Contest was where you could find out what the up and coming companies in security were up to.
This year RSAC is doing something else in addition. The Launch Pad is where to come to if you have a great idea. You can pitch to VCs, the community and your peers – get great feedback.
In this chat we speak with Cecilia Marinier of RSAC about Sandbox, Launch Pad and so much more that is RSAC. Listen to the chat, go to RSAC and enjoy.
Alan Shimel: Hey everyone. It’s Alan Shimel, DevOps.com, Security Boulevard and you’re listening to another DevOps Chat. Today’s DevOps Chat is gonna focus on well, what for me is my favorite conference of the year, the RSA Conference in San Francisco, which this year is the week of March 4. And one of the great things about RSA conference is there’s so many things going on. I’m happy to be joined actually by someone from the RSA conference team. Cecilia Marinier, Marinier. Cecilia, I hope I didn’t mess that up terribly. My French is … that New York accent just doesn’t work with French. I’m sorry [laughs]. But Cecilia, you there?
Cecilia Marinier: I am here. Thank you. And you did a great job with my last name. Thank you.
Shimel: Why don’t you say it right, though, for everyone?
Marinier: Okay. So my name is Cecilia Marinier.
Shimel: Marinier. Oh, you can almost taste the French food in the way you even say it. Anyway, I just got back from France, Cecilia and so I appreciate it. But you’re with RSA Conference. Why don’t you give our audience a little bit of background on what your position is and your own journey on how you got here?
Marinier: Absolutely. Thank you. So I work with the RSA Conference. I joined them about five years ago and I started actually working with just the RSA Conference Innovation Sandbox content having a strong interest in innovation in cyber security. Prior to that, I was working with a small boutique consulting firm that consulted US government clients on security intelligence issues and one of the main focal areas was cyber security, which is what drove my interest into actually joining RSA conference. And tying that together with innovation is just how I got started on this journey and from there, it’s just been a super wonderful ride with RSA conference. Just keep on building out these incredible programs focused on innovation.
Shimel: Correct. So I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with the innovation sandbox contest now for a number of years. I would say it’s gotta be going on what seven or eight years they’re doing it? Maybe more at RSA already?
Marinier: Yeah. Actually it’s 14 years.
Marinier: This is our 14th year.
Shimel: Oh my God.
Marinier: I know. But it started off under – [laughs] I know. Well, it started off under a different name back in 2005 and then in 2009, it actually changed into the current form, which is the innovation sandbox contest. But there were really incredible company that came through that you might recognize like source buyer and Imperva in those first couple of years so it’s –
Shimel: I remember those years. And maybe that’s why I said seven or eight years because since they’re using their name, the Sandbox. But in any event, we’re very careful to use the name Innovation Sandbox Contest because we don’t wanna confuse people. Again, there’s so much going on at RSA conference. There’s also the RSA Sandbox where people kinda have hands on experiences with different tools and so forth and security, and cyber security. Correct?
Marinier: Exactly. The RSA Conference Sandbox actually hosts three sandboxes, plus sands _____ _____ and each sandbox has these hands on activities and it’s in the internet of things. IoT village. It has also ICS village looking at _____ systems and finally, we are – this year, we’re bringing in wireless hacking village too. So it’s a really exciting time for the sandbox in addition to the innovation sandbox contest.
Shimel: Absolutely. That is exciting. I remember seeing it last year. That’s some great stuff. But when we talk about the Innovation Sandbox Contest _____ _____ for those of you maybe from my DevOps audience or who have not had the pleasure of attending RSA Conference, it really is a showcase for new technology, for new sec companies to get in front of some of the top, top people who are judges for this contest and really show them what you got. Right? And like you said, companies like Imperva and Marty’s _____ source fire and many others have been recognized over the years at the Sandbox Innovation or Innovation Sandbox contest. So it really is great.
Why don’t, if you can, Cecilia, let’s talk a little bit. What is the process? How do the companies get selected? How is a winner picked? Give our audience a little insight?
Marinier: Absolutely. So right now is the submission period and right now, any company that is less than five years old and less than $5 million in revenue can apply online for the contest and there’s an application process. You send in a 3 minute video that can be taped in your offices. It doesn’t have to be professionally made. And all those submissions are then sent to the judges and our judges are extraordinarily awesome this year. I’m really proud of the diversity.
So one of the things that we do when we’re looking at Innovation Sandbox Context to ensure that the company will be successful, is we have all the people who are interested and understand what it takes to make a successful company. So we have our venture capitalist. We have our siso who’s the buyer. We have an entrepreneur, a veteran entrepreneur who this year is actually Shlomo Cramer who has been a –
Marinier: Veteran on the stage. Shlomo Cramer from Cato Network and Imperva and Checkpoint. So Shlomo will be our entrepreneur and then we also have a chief strategy officer who’s representing what it’s like to be a buyer inside a large company. So we cover the gamut of what will it take to actually take this to market and I think that’s one of the – why this is always choosing very successful companies. Even most recently, if you look at Phantom which was acquired by Splunk or if you look at Unify ID who won in 2017 and they received good funding right afterwards, it’s a great Launchpad for a lot of different – I shouldn’t say Launchpad. It’s a great place for companies to actually showcase their latest products. The only other caveat is the product has to have come out between December 1st 2017 and December 1st 2018. So we’re looking at those start ups that have launched their product and if they’re ready to go to market, they can apply online for Innovation Sandbox Contest.
Shimel: Excellent. Excellent, excellent, excellent. I will include the URLs for all that, guys, with the show notes here in the podcast. And Cecilia, I really should chime in in that yeah, there’s been a lot of quote on quote famous companies that won but what I always loved about the sandbox contest was the pure democracy of it. Right? It’s really as open to any company that’s under five years and under $5 million and the three minute limit on the video, they mean three minutes. I, myself, have worked on these videos in the past and I know we’ve word smithed them and talked faster to get as much as we can in on those three minutes as possible but it really is.
You don’t have to be a blue chip VC-backed company here to invest or to enter and even to win. There’s been companies that weren’t DC backed at the time over the years that have won, if I’m not mistaken.
Shimel: Yep. And I remember – and wound up leading where – it’s hard to draw. It’s a dotted line but it wound up leading to those companies getting funding as a result of winning as well. So it really is. It’s a prestigious thing to win. Now, if someone’s out here listening and say, “Oh, I may go to RSA Conference this year,” and by the way, if you are, there’s some discount codes available on Security Boulevard and DevOps.com through our RSA Conference partnership, if you are looking to attend. But if you are looking to attend, Cecilia, how can the attendees interact and see what’s going on and participate in Sandbox Innovation Contest?
Marinier: Well, actually, the conference itself has really made big strides in trying to build an ecosystem around innovation. So in addition to the Innovation Sandbox Contest, which does have a break while the judges is evaluating the companies to chose a winner and the attendees for that particular event can go meet the top 10. There’s kiosks there. But in addition, we’ve created a couple other opportunities for the attendees to see what’s happening in innovation and cyber security and one of those areas is called the early stage expo. And this area has 50 startups this year. We’re up to 50 startups and it also has a small briefing center and yeah, it’s an amazing opportunity. It’s located right next to the sandbox that was talked about earlier and it runs from Tuesday through Thursday so you can check the hours online for that.
Additionally, if you are an entrepreneur but you’re not quite there yet and you wanna learn a little bit more about how to become an entrepreneur, we have a half day how-to seminar on Monday which covers how to get funding, how to get in front of the busy CISO, how to go to market and the journey of an entrepreneur. So all of these are elements that are tied into what’s going on in innovation itself. And then also, additionally, we have this new event that we’re launching which I’m pretty psyched about which is called RSA Conference Launch Pad. And I’m happy to share more about that with you right now or we can wait and put it on hold and I’ll tell you a little bit later [laughs].
Shimel: No, no. Go ahead. That cat’s out of the bag. Let’s go.
Marinier: All righty. So the thing about RSA Conference Innovation Sandbox Contest that we noticed was that we’d had a lot of strong, solid companies that I would almost say later stage startups. What we thought would be really cool and what we saw in some of the submissions that were just in the cusp of getting ready to launch their product but had not quite done so yet and so they didn’t qualify during that year. And what we wanted to do was offer them a different opportunity, which, again, is to get in front of this audience but this time, they’re going just in front of three venture capitalists and there’s three very strong venture capitalists based here in Silicon Valley that their names are gonna be really well-known when you see them.
And this is kinda more like a “Shark Tank” kind of event where you’ll go and they’ll be pitching in front of the audience and maybe one of these venture capitalists might just put some money towards one of the companies. There will only be three of them. It’s not a winner take all. It’s literally just an opportunity for people to see what are the venture capitalists interested in, what kinda questions are they asking, and then also to kinda get a glimpse into an earlier stage start up. So it’s really fun and exciting and that’s on Tuesday afternoon and that will be a really fun event as well.
Shimel: Excellent. Excellent. You know what amazes me, Cecilia? So I’ve been in the – we’ve spoke off mic and I’ve been going to RSA Conference since like 2002, 2003 maybe. And what amazes me is I remember back in maybe around 2005 or 2006, I had started something called the Security Bloggers Network. We had our security bloggers meet up every year. This is when blogging about security was first becoming really popular, ’04, ’05. And RSA Conference, actually, was a catalyst and a sponsor of this back then. We’ll be doing it again this year. I think it’s the … I don’t know, 15th or 12th. I forget how many years. We’ve been doing it a long time.
Anyway, we were talking back then and I remember hearing people say something like, “Do you know there are 600 or 700 security companies in the world? There’s no way the market can support that many …” We didn’t call it cybersecurity. It was InfoSec. “There’s no way the market can support that many InfoSec companies.” And now, we look at RSA Conference today and there’s something like 500 companies or so exhibiting at RSA in that range. And we –
Marinier: Yeah. There is.
Shimel: Do you know the number? I don’t.
Marinier: I believe there are 600 going to be on the floor this year, plus the 50 at early stage expo. So over 600 is what I was –
Shimel: Well, there you go.
Marinier: Comfortable saying over 600 for sure [laughs].
Shimel: Yeah. So there you go. There are more than that just exhibiting at RSA Conference this year so the growth in the market. But to give them something like this early stage expo is really such a leg up because you know what? I’ve been on both sides of this from this divide and it’s not cheap. It’s not cheap going to any conference in San Francisco. It’s not cheap exhibiting at a conference in San Francisco. And I don’t mean to single out San Francisco. It’s not cheap, period, doing conferences. And but in the case of RSA, it very much is a question of, “Well, if you’re not there, people ask why. Are you really a player? Are you serious? How could you not be at the biggest event of the industry?”
And so giving them a sort of fast track, and quite frankly, a bit of a discount to get your foot in the door, it’s a great thing. So kudos to RSA, to RSA Conference for doing this and I think it’ll be really cool. I encourage people to go check out some of the folks in the Launchpad because that’s where you’ll find _____ _____.
Marinier: And also, yeah, in that early stage expo area, it is exactly like you said. It’s what we’ve heard from the people who are exhibiting in that area is they love it because the people who come into early stage expo are really interested in learning more about each of the companies and they’ll stop. And the kiosks are not that large but they all have just an interesting background and story and there’s a lot of people that walk through and just really enjoy getting to have that personal attention from the CEO of the company because they’re so – these companies are so small that you’re meeting the CTO. You’re meeting the CEO. So it’s really a cool little area. I really hope that your listeners all get to stop by and check it out.
Shimel: Absolutely. And just to be clear, usually the expo floor for RSA opens up the Monday night, which I think is March 4th this year.
Marinier: It is.
Shimel: Will the innovation area, the Launch Pad area and Sandbox be open Monday?
Marinier: No. So Innovation Sandbox Contest runs from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM on Monday, March 4th.
Shimel: On Monday.
Marinier: Yes. And it closes and then that’s when we go over to the welcome reception. We encourage people to go over to the welcome reception at the Moscone. We’re actually going to be at the Marriott this year so please come to the Marriott.
Shimel: Oh, okay.
Marinier: That’s where we’re gonna be for all the innovation –
Shimel: Okay. I didn’t know that. So they are still using Marriott this year. I thought the construction on Moscone was gonna be finished and everything was moving in.
Marinier: I thought so too and the construction has –
The construction actually has been promised to be done but the area that they were anticipating, the thing that Innovation Sandbox Contest has grown so big that we need to have this size room that can hold 2,000 people and so that’s why we’re there, we’re over at the Marriott this year. And hopefully, in the future, they’ll be able to – it will change and we’ll all be in the same area but the Marriott is really close to Moscone West so I hope –
Shimel: Oh, no, no, no. It’s right around the corner between Jillian’s. You go Moscone, Jillian’s, and the Marriott. And I should also mention that also Monday starting at 9:00 AM in the morning, I’ll be running for the fifth year, our DevOps Connect DevSecOps days event in Moscone. RSA Conference obviously puts us on and I was lucky. I got moved to Moscone last year, Cecilia. We were like the first people in this beautiful room up in … I guess it’s Moscone North. It’s a brand new section. It’ll be up there and I think it was us and the Cloud Security Alliance. We were right next to each other and …
Marinier: You’re making me jealous. You’re making me jealous, Alan.
Shimel: I’m sorry. I don’t wanna rub it in but I was told we’ll have the same room this year. So we start at 9:00 AM. We’ll run through 4:00 PM but there’s plenty of time to run back and forth here from the Marriott to the Moscone. It’s literally a couple of steps.
Marinier: Yep. It’s very close.
Shimel: So I encourage everyone to do do both. And then the launch pad is … will run through the whole expo?
Marinier: The Launchpad is the event on Tuesday with the sharks, with the venture capitalists and then the early stage expo areas opens right after that as Launch Pad closes. As soon as Launch Pad finishes that event, we open the whole space, the Sandbox and the Early Stage Expo. Actually, it’s opened with the Cyber Ops, which is kind of a fun little networking event in addition to opening the space. And then it will be open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Wednesday and from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Thursday.
Shimel: Fantastic. Well, Cecilia, when we started, I told you that once we start talking shop, the time just flies. So I’m sorry to say that we’re about out of time. But just man, I’m already really pumped for RSA Conference this year but I always am but I’m really excited for what’s going on with the Sandbox, Innovation Sandbox Contest, the Launchpad, the Startup Showcase. If you’re not moving forward in this business, you’re dying, as they say, right? And RSA Conference continues to move forward in being innovative and getting these new companies a shot at getting their bite at the ring or grabbing the ring or whatever you wanna call it, bite at the apple. So congratulations to you and the team for doing this and thanks for doing it.
Marinier: Thank you.
Shimel: And we’re looking forward to it. We’ll be there. We’ll check it out. Maybe we’ll report. There’s a good chance we might be on Broadcast Row over in Moscone West during the week doing some video broadcasting. And if so, maybe we can get you and some of the folks from the Sandbox contest and the showcase in and we can make them movie stars or at least YouTube stars [laughs].
Marinier: Sounds great. Sounds great.
Shimel: All righty. Fantastic. Cecilia Marinier. Close?
Marinier: Excellent. Very good.
Shimel: I’m getting there, man.
A French model on the internet like the commercial says. Anyway, Cecilia, thank you so much for being our guest here on DevOps Chat. Good luck with RSA Conference. It’s coming up in a few months. Hey, Sandbox Contest applications are available if you’re listening. Go do it. And you’re eligible and you think you’ve got a shot here, I would encourage you. But for now, this is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com and Security Boulevard and you’ve just listened to another DevOps Chat. Have a great day everyone.