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Growing Houston cyber security company plans to hire

Houston-based Security Gate has grown 1,000 percent each year. Getty Images

Cyber security is constantly evolving, and, while information hacks are always a concern, worst-case scenarios could even be life threatening.

Houston-based startup, Security Gate, is addressing all of types of cyber security threats, says Ted Gutierrez, an Army special forces vet and co-founder and CEO of the company.

"It used to be companies were worried about what happens if someone hacks in to your information," he says. "Yes, that's a concern. But now we're talking about cyber attacks that can breach your company, and lives are at stake. We're creating solutions that counter that."

The cyber security firm has, over its last two years of existence, grown steadily — and is poised for future growth.

"We've had a thousand percent growth year by year," says Gutierrez, who credits the company's success to his incremental approach. "We really listened to the market."

When Gutierrez began his company, which helps firms assess risk and discover custom solutions for compliance or performance needs, he set out to capture clients in multiple industries, from oil and gas to defense contractors to the health and educator sectors. Then, SecurityGate collaborated with those clients to find out what was working and what was missing from the firm's approach to its technology. And Gutierrez went back and fixed any issues there were.

"We built our software in four to five months," he says. "And because of the approach we've taken, we didn't have to ever pivot or change the offerings we provided the way some other startups have had to. We've consistently generated revenue since we launched"

Today, SecurityGate counts among its portfolio one of Houston's largest private schools, a defense contractor in the Metroplex, and multiple oil and gas firms. Gutierrez says the company signed what he calls "two monster clients" in 2018, paving the way for his optimistic outlet for this year – and beyond.

The company offers four tiers of service that include one-time individual assessments to long-term solutions that demonstrate a firm's compliance to industry standards, whether they are Fortune 500 organizations or "$5 million companies," he says.

Across 2019, Gutierrez figures he'll add between six and eight employees to the SecurityGate team, which currently numbers about a dozen. That's solid growth for a company that began without angel investors and the help of venture capital firms – although Gutierrez has recently taken meetings with several of those and looks forward to outside investment.

"We really bootstrapped this firm, adding clients and investing that capital in further development," he says.

He's excited by the landscape before him and says he loves Houston's business ecosystem. SecurityGate is a member of Station Houston, and Gutierrez says he loves that larger companies in the city have embraced working with smaller firms like his own. He's encouraged by his firm's growth, and he knows that there's still work in front of the company.

But Gutierrez likens his experience with his start-up to his days in an Army reconnaissance unit.

"I love high-conflict, low-impact settings," he says. "It's you and a few guys and you're in a place for a week and you don't know what you'll find. I love that chaos of jumping out of a plane and right into the job."


This is what a company's Security Gate digital dashboard would look like. Via securitygate.io

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Building Houston

 
 

New partnership chair, Amy Chonis, gave her address at the 2021 GHP Annual Meeting. Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images

With 2020 in the rearview, the Greater Houston Partnership is looking into the new year with a new board chair. In the GHP's 2021 Annual Meeting, the organization introduced how important developing the innovation community is in Houston.

In her remarks, this year's Partnership Chair Amy Chronis, who is the Houston managing partner at Deloitte, shared what she hopes to inspire in her tenure. Her statement can be boiled down to three major points.

It's time to modernize Houston's economy

Chronis says it's time to focus on tech and innovation — and that requires support from all aspects of the city.

"Here in Houston, we must be laser-focused on building a strong, diverse, 21st century economy," she says. "Over the past few years, entrepreneurs, investors, academic institutions, local government, and the corporate sector have come together to unite, grow, and promote Houston's startup ecosystem. The progress since 2016 is staggering."

Since 2016, Chronis says, venture capital investment in Houston has increased almost 250 percent to a record $714 million dollars raised in 2020. Additionally, she calls out 30 new startup development organizations that have sprung up around town — like the East End Maker Hub, The Cannon, The Ion, Greentown Labs, and so much more.

Chronis also calls out the importance of educational institutions, such as Rice University and the University of Houston.

It's the industries that drive innovation

There is a growing need to diversify Houston's economy away from just oil and gas, Chronis says it's Houston's core industries — energy, life sciences, aerospace, along with manufacturing and global logistics — that have made transformative steps.

"We've got momentum, but we still need to double down with work to do," Chronis says, identifying energy, life sciences, and aerospace as three pillars to drive success.

Regarding energy, Chronis touts Greentown Labs opening in Houston — but warns it's increasingly important to have big corporations promote the energy transition.

"From the super majors to the service firms and the increasing presence of renewable companies, Houston is at the forefront of driving the Energy 2.0 sector," she says.

When it comes to health care, Chronis remarks on the Texas Medical Center's success with the TMC Innovation Institute and the development of TMC3, a 37-acre research commercialization campus.

"What's special about TMC3 is that it will create collaboration and innovation at scale," she adds. "It will be a catalyst that will advance Houston's position as the Third Coast for Life Sciences."

Lastly, Houston must maintain its moniker as the Space City — and the city has a lot of opportunities to do that with the development of the Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport and the NASA Johnson Space Center.

"Houston is already home to a rich talent pool of nearly 23,000 aerospace manufacturing professionals and more than 500 aerospace and aviation companies and institutions, but the potential is so much greater," Chronis says.

Houston needs to focus on four areas to "drive a technological renaissance"

Chronis concludes her speech with some calls to action. She first acknowledges that corporations ask themselves about how they are promoting and valuing innovation.

"We must be committed to inspiring, cultivating and rewarding technological innovation," Chronis says. "How is your company partnering with startups, higher education institutions and other stakeholders to drive innovation?"

Next, Chronis calls out Houston's global diversity as a differentiator when it comes to attracting companies to Houston, and she cites HPE as an example.

"We know there are hundreds of tech companies in the Valley, and up and down the West and East coasts that are striving to build global diversity within their companies," she says. "There is no better place than Houston to do this."

Third, Chronis calls for everyone — from corporates to educations — to empower the next generation of innovators.

And, finally, she says it's time to spread the word about Houston.

"We are modern, sophisticated, and at our core, an incredibly global city. Global in a way that sets us apart from most U.S. metros," she says. "So, as we embark on this work to drive Houston's technology renaissance, we must ensure perceptions of Houston are aligned with reality."

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