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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

The Rice Management Company has broken ground on the renovation of the historic Midtown Sears building, which will become The Ion. Natalie Harms/InnovationMap

The Ion — a to-be entrepreneurial hub for startups, universities, tech companies, and more — is, in a way, the lemonade created from the lemons dealt to the city by a snub from Amazon.

In 2018, Amazon narrowed its options for a second headquarters to 20 cities, and Houston didn't make the shortlist.

"That disappointment lead to a sense of urgency, commitment, and imagination and out of that has come something better than we ever could have imagined," David Leebron, president of Rice University, says to a crowd gathered for The Ion's groundbreaking on July 19.

However disappointing the snub from Amazon was, it was a wake-up call for so many of the Houston innovation ecosystem players. The Ion, which is being constructed within the bones of the historic Midtown Sears building, is a part of a new era for the city.

"Houston's on a new course to a new destination," says Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Here are some other overheard quotes from the groundbreaking ceremony. The 270,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed in 18 months.


The historic Sears building in Midtown will transform into The Ion, a Rice University-backed hub for innovation. Courtesy of Rice University

“We have the capacity — if we work together — not only to make this a great innovation hub, but to do something that truly represents the Houston can-do, collaborative spirit.”

— David Leebron, president of Rice University. Leebron stressed the unique accomplishment the Ion has made to bring all the universities of Houston together for this project. "When we tell people the collaboration that has been brought together around this project, they are amazed," he says.

“The nation is seeing what we already know in the city of Houston. That this city has the greatest and most creative minds. We are a model for inclusion among people and cultures from everywhere. We are a city that taps the potential of every resident, dares them to dream big, and we provide the tools to make those dreams come true.”

— Mayor Sylvester Turner, who says he remembers shopping in the former Sears building as a kid, but notes how Houston's goals have changed, as has the world.

“When this store opened in 1939, it showcased a couple of innovations even back then: The first escalator in Texas, the first air conditioned department store in Houston, the first windowless department store in the country.”

— Senator Rodney Ellis, who adds the request that The Ion have windows.

“Many people ask us, ‘why not just tear down the old building and start new?’ We actually see this as a very unique opportunity for companies and entrepreneurs to be located within a historic building, while benefiting from an enhanced structure, state-of-the-art technology, and Class A tenant comforts.”

— Allison Thacker, president of the Rice Management Company. She describes the environment of being a beehive of activity.

“[As program partner for The Ion,] our mission is to build the innovation economy of Houston one entrepreneur at a time.”

— Gabriella Rowe, CEO of Station Houston. Rowe describes Station's role as a connector between startups, venture capital firms, major corporations, and more.