Business COVID-19 Startups Venture

Austin-Based Ontic Secures $12M Series A To Help Companies Stay Safe From Threats

Ontic, which has developed a software platform to help businesses proactively address physical safety, announced today it has raised $12 million in a Series A funding round led by Felicis Ventures.

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All existing backers participated in the round, including Silverton Partners, Floodgate and Village Global. The financing brings the Austin-based startup’s total venture raised to $16.7 million since its 2017 inception, according to Crunchbase data.

Ontic describes its platform as “protective intelligence software.”

If you’re like me, you are probably asking yourself, “What is a protective intelligence software platform?” In a nutshell, Ontic helps identify potential physical threats to an organization’s employees, facilities and assets such as workplace violence or insider threats. The company does this by connecting to hundreds of real-time and historical data points, which it then curates to actionable intelligence for security teams. Early threat detection is the end goal.

“It is critically important to aggregate and make sense of the data [that] security teams need to proactively connect the dots before it’s too late,” said CEO and co-founder Lukas Quanstrom.

Building momentum

Last year was a good one for Ontic. The SaaS-based company saw its annual recurring revenue grow fivefold due to increased demand from both new and existing customers, according to Quanstrom. It currently has 46 employees, up from nine at this time last year.

For obvious reasons, Ontic won’t name its customers, saying only that it works with global Fortune 1000 clients across many sectors, from technology, financial services and retail to media and entertainment.

In recent weeks, Ontic’s customers across all industries have seen a 300 percent increase in COVID-19 and threat-related data, said Quanstrom. This is not shocking when considering remote and mobile workforces are “always on” across time zones due to shelter-in-place orders, as well as the increasing number of unemployed people, he noted.

Delivery drivers and companies have also become easy targets.

“Executives are not traveling, and have become easier targets for threat actors working from home,” Quanstrom told Crunchbase News. “There’s concern over the exploitation of empty facilities. Laid-off and current employees are expressing frustration and threatening companies based on action or inaction” via social media, on the dark web or within a client’s proprietary data, for example.

Increased demand

A recent report by the Ponemon Institute found that the overall cost of insider threats is rising, with a 31 percent per incident increase from $8.76 million in 2018 to $11.45 million in 2020.

Also, a January 2019 report from Stephens Inc. noted that both the frequency and scale of terrorist attacks have increased substantially over the last decade.

“The number of injuries attributed to terrorist attacks increased nearly threefold and the number of fatalities increased roughly fourfold,” it said.

Ontic’s aim is to give security teams the ability to better identify pre-incident indicators, assess risk, and both investigate and mitigate potential threats, or as it puts it “to protect their people, properties and reputation.”

The company plans to use its new capital to fuel expansion across enterprise businesses and family offices, while ramping up product development and expanding sales to enter new markets. It also plans to use the money to explore new verticals such as health care, manufacturing and higher education.

“Our business focus has not changed, but there has been a rise in threat-related data,” Quanstrom said.

Investor POV

Victoria Treyger, general partner and managing director at Felicis Ventures, said her firm was impressed with Ontic’s ability to attract such a high caliber of customers within 18 months of product launch–and with just $4.6 million in seed funding.

“It’s rare as an investor to find a company that, within 18 months, has dozens of Fortune 1000 customers,” Treyger told Crunchbase News. “It’s a very strong statement of their product market fit and market opportunity.”

Indeed, Felicis was also drawn to the space that Ontic is tackling.

“When you look at the security space, what broadly struck us was that with cybersecurity, for example, the funding was tens of billions of dollars over the last 10 years and more than $5 billion per year over the last two years alone,” Treyger said. “But this area of intelligence and protective security has literally had no VC investment and very little competition. Threat data is exploding, and making sense of it for a security professional is more important than ever.”

Felicis also tends to invest in capital-efficient companies and considers Ontic to be one, said Treyger.

“It’s impressive they have achieved this kind of traction on just a seed round,” she said.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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