How Armenian startup EasyDMARC protects companies from cyber threats

25 August, 2022

 

"Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance" is an email security standard, which lets companies secure their email ecosystem from phishing and spoofing.

The startup's story began this way: in 2016, EasyDMARC founder Gerasim Hovannisian had to deal with the aftermath of a data breach at a multibillion-dollar startup.  So, he looked into how he could mitigate the risks and protect the company from further email-related breaches. 

It turned out that such a solution existed – the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance protocol. However, as such, there was still no product that was easy to install and available to every company. So, Gerasim Hovannisian, together with Avag Arakeliano, created EasyDMARC, a universal platform for easy and automated deployment of email authentication.

According to the Data Breach Investigations Report, 93% of all successful attacks started with phishing. Data-based and smart-solutions companies are particularly at risk. As everything is governed digitally, something as small as a human error with a phishing email can lead to massive disruptions.

“So the faster smart systems evolve, the more people's lives are at risk,” says EasyDMARC cofounder Gerasim Hovhannisyan. “There was a case, where cyber criminals tried to infiltrate a water tank system to poison an entire city." 

As TechCrunch editor-in-chief, Mike Butcher pointed out, the rapidly evolving DMARC protocol does the same thing that "https" has done for the Internet: provide secure communication via email: "In 2021 there were 6 million domains using DMARC and in 2022 there will be 10 million. It is growing rapidly." – Mike Butcher mentioned. 

EasyDMARC currently has 30 000 customers from 130 countries and the platform has already analyzed 9 billion emails. During the first half of 2022, EasyDMARC’s platform blocked more than 90 million phishing attacks. "Our platform works through email traffic and analyzes threats on business domains without access to confidential information," stresses Gerasim Hovannisian.

— How does your business model work?

We work with corporate clients following the freemium model. We have a free plan that can be sufficient for small companies. However, if you want more functionality, signing up for a paid plan is the next step.

— What incubation and acceleration programmes have you gone through? Who were your mentors, and what was the most useful? 

We went through the startup incubator BANA (Business Angels Network Armenia), which was held jointly with Beeline. There, we received information about entering markets, the principles of pricing for our product and its distribution – all the things that a startup needs to have a presentable image on the internet. Obviously, when engineers get together and create a product, it has little to do with real business. This incubator helped us finalize our SaaS product. 

We worked with angels from BANA for 2 years. In 2020, we closed a pre-seed round with them. There were 11 angels and companies there, only 3 of which were Armenian. The rest were from Europe and the USA. So, with the help of BANA, we managed to gather a room of smart investors, who helped us further. 

— Why is it important to look specifically for smart investors?

First of all, they can advise on running all the business processes: they are experts in the business field, in finance, and they can provide all the necessary information in a concise form. Smart investors also help organize meetings, set up networking, find employees, and run PR campaigns. 

Even though we closed the seed round with external capital, we continue to work with angels from this community. It is part of our culture and we share common values with these people.

— Which venture funds invested in your project when you closed the last round?

Initially, we wanted to raise around $2.5 million. However, to reach the next level, we needed not only money, but also networking. We ended up cooperating with Acrobator Ventures, a company registered in the Netherlands, the States and Armenia, then with Formula VC with funders from Armenia and the American company Knowbe4, which deals with cyber security.

— What are your nearest plans? 

In a year or two, we will be opening the next round for scaling up to other countries and markets. Right now we are focusing on the US and Europe, but we have clients from around the world. Only 10 million domains have DMARC now, while there are 250 million active domains worldwide. We have so much to do.

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