Startup Grip Security secures seed founding round for comprehensive enterprise SaaS security solution

Grip’s technology lets organizations discover and secure all SaaS applications, from any device and any location, with more precision than CASBs, and covering far more applications than providers who rely on deep API integrations.

Grip Security Co-founders, l. to r.: Idan Fast (CTO), Lior Yaari (CEO), Alon Shenkler (VP R&D).

Israeli-based startup Grip Security, which has developed a SaaS security solution that is ultimately intended to disrupt and replace older technologies like CASBs, has announced a $6 million seed funding round. The round was led by YL Ventures with participation from CrowdStrike CEO and co-founder, George Kurtz and other cybersecurity executives. They include: Andy Ellis, former CSO of Akamai; Michael Sutton, former CISO of Zscaler; Sounil Yu, former Chief Security Scientist at Bank of America; Omkhar Arasaratnam, former executive director, Data Protection Engineering at JPMorgan Chase; Sameer Sait, CISO at Amazon (Whole Foods); and Adi Sharabani, former SVP & GM, Endpoint Solutions at Symantec.

While there is an enormous variety of SaaS security solutions already on the market, the fundamental premise behind Grip’s existence is that they all have certain deficiencies which have become more apparent in the explosion in the number of SaaS applications used today by enterprises.

“There are a lot of SaaS security companies because it’s a big problem,” said Lior Yaari, Grip Security’s CEO. “The first generation of SaaS security companies, in around 2011-2014, used CASBs. Those CASBs have existed for years and it’s clear they do not cover all issues.”

Other companies provide very deep API integrations to address SaaS security issues, and while these work well, Yaari said that the issue here is that the large increase in the number of SaaS applications being used leaves many applications uncovered.

“SaaS security which uses API integrations limits the number of applications that can be covered,” he said. “The velocity with which SaaS is being introduced has risen greatly, with 300 plus applications being used by many large enterprises. We are a small startup and in after three months since we were founded, we use 30 applications.”

Grip’s approach discovers nearly 100% of enterprise SaaS applications, and then governs, monitors and secures employee access and usage, and prevents data loss.

“It is a layered solution that offers visibility, monitoring and protection,” Yaari said. “We first provide visibility to the entire SaaS portfolio, with a very simple integration that takes 10 minutes without installing anything on corporate networks. By following footprints, we can discover the portfolio and the users, and can then provide a SaaS-centric and user-centric risk assessment and provide protection and monitoring.”

Yaari also stressed that the protection and monitoring capabilities are enforced no matter what device is used by a user or what corporate network is used.

“This is a major change, and something that many existing solutions fail to do with access to SaaS,” he indicated. “Many connections we would want to monitor do not originate from the office. Our technology lets us prevent and secure access to SaaS applications when accessing SaaS, no matter where they do it from.”

Out of the gate, the focus is on the enterprise, even though Yaari said they expect incoming demand from some smaller organizations, at the high end of the SMB and low end of the midmarket.

“We are targeting the enterprise market, although SaaS security is a problem for every organization,” he noted. “Larger companies will have more problems though, and we aim to solve those companies’ problems. We also expect to attract interest from smaller companies with 500-700 employees.”

Yaari also acknowledged that whether Grip can best be seen as a rip and replace alternative to other SaaS security products, or whether it is complementary to them, is a complex one.

“It depends on the vertical,” he said. “As SaaS is closely tied to identity, we are complementary to other products around identity. We extend identity to the entire portfolio automatically, to extend the value of products like Okta. Currently, Grip is designed to complement CASBs, as well as companies like BetterCloud that solve SaaS problems with deep API integrations. In the long run, however, we want to disrupt the market. and for that you need to rip and replace the CASB solutions.”

Grip is still in the direct proof-of-concept selling stage, but channel is in their plans in the near-term.

“We have thought about channel partners as a way for us to expand our reach once we reach product readiness where we don’t have to deploy manually, and that’s somewhere we expect to be a few months from now,” he said. “Around the same time, we expect to have integrations completed with identity vendors like Okta and others. Identity-focused MSPs, integrators and distributors we see as potential partners, because it makes a difference being able to import 200 applications into an identity platform with us instead of 30 with APIs.”