Building Cyber Collective
Helping cybersecurity founders, professionals & investors build the future of security
Note: Building Cyber Collective is no longer accepting applications.
While there isn’t a single playbook for success, having the right people on your side is a proven winning move.
We know that building startups is hard and that startups need access to expertise across many areas - product, go-to-market strategy, sales, engineering, fundraising, and operations, to name a few. Founders also have a hard time connecting with security professionals to validate their assumptions, ask questions, and figure out what to build.
We also know that there isn’t an easy way for experienced professionals to get involved with startups. Security leaders, product, engineering, marketing, sales, operations, and professionals in other areas don’t have time to browse the internet hoping to find an interesting company that needs the kind of help they are ready to provide.
The Building Cyber collective solves both of these problems. We bring cybersecurity startup founders and experienced professionals acting as advisors together so that they can connect and collaborate to build the security of the future. We are a collective of people working in the industry - a 100% free, grassroots initiative with no strings attached.
We are creating a roster of advisors that startups can reach out to. It’s double opt-in, meaning startups can browse people on the list of advisors, and if they choose to reach out - the advisor will get an email asking them to confirm if they are interested. Only if both the startup and the advisor are in, the connection is made. In the same way, advisors can browse startups that match their area of interest & reach out.
For advisors, industry leaders, and senior professionals, we want to make it easy to get involved with cybersecurity companies that fit their areas of interest.
For cybersecurity startups, we want to make it easy to access the advice they need, when they need it, and for however long they need it.
For investors, we give the ability to connect with advisors and early-stage cybersecurity entrepreneurs.
How it works (tl;dr)
Startups, investors & advisors apply to the collective. It’s free to apply and to participate (no catch).
Applications are reviewed on the rolling basis, and new members are invited every month.
If accepted (check the FAQs below for eligibility criteria & more), they will be invited to the Building Cyber directory.
Advisors get to see a list of startups they can reach out to with details about their focus, traction, location, areas of need, and more. Startups get to see a list of advisors they can reach out to with details about their focus, they can help with, etc. Essentially, it’s a directory where everyone can browse the profiles of everyone else.
To connect, people will use our double opt-in introductions system. Startups can reach out to advisors directly in the same way (double opt-in, via the automated system). Emails of the participants will not be made public to one another until both sides accept the intro to prevent spam & sales outreach. It works the same way when advisors want to reach out to startups, etc.
After the connection is made, advisors commit to providing at least 4 hours of their time for free. After that, they can keep volunteering, become a formal/informal advisor, or enter any other arrangement - it’s between a startup and an advisor.
Building Cyber collective does not have online community (Slack channels etc) at this time.
What happens after I apply?
We will review the application and if it is approved, you will be included in the next round of invitations.
How many applications will be accepted?
The admission is not competitive so there is no hard limit when it comes to the number of participants. However, we will manually review all applications to make sure they are relevant and satisfy the requirements.
Is there a Slack community for Building Cyber Collective?
Not at this time. We know advisors & founders are busy so we focus on providing an easy way to get help when it is needed.
Do I qualify as an advisor?
We expect that folks who join as advisors will be senior security leaders, experienced security professionals, sales, marketing, product, engineering, operations, finance, fundraising, and other experts with at least some (or very deep) experience in cybersecurity. 5+ years of experience is highly encouraged but we will make decisions based on the complete profile, not solely the number of years a person has been at the job. As one smart person once said, “for some people 10 years of experience is 1 year repeated 10 times”.
What is the time commitment for advisors?
Advisors are free to work as little or as much with Building Cyber startups as they wish. All engagements are ‘opt-in’: you either volunteer or are asked if you are interested and available to help with a specific item. You can always say yes or no, giving you the ability to select to do only work that you personally find rewarding and impactful.
What if I am a security professional?
Please join us - we would love to have more folks with cybersecurity expertise. This is especially helpful for founders trying to get feedback from practitioners or validate their ideas.
What if I am a senior professional (product, engineering, etc.) with no experience in cybersecurity?
While we do strongly prefer people with experience in cybersecurity, we will also consider senior leaders with little or no experience in the industry, depending on the overall strength of their profile.
What if I am a consultant - can I apply?
We understand that some experienced professionals may offer their services as consultants and charge a fee, expect to be compensated in equity, etc. We are Ok with that, but we require that with any startup you engage, you will offer them 4 hours of your time for free.
If after that, both startup and advisor feel there is a fit for a long-term collaboration, they are free to shape it however it makes sense (volunteer customer advisory board, formal advisor role in exchange for equity, something else, or even joining a co-founder!).
Can I join the board of directors of the startup I advise?
You and the startup you connect with are free to structure your collaboration however you like. Any specific arrangements and the consequences of these arrangements are outside of the Building Cyber areas of influence and/or responsibility.
Does my startup qualify?
We expect that startups who join us will be at least at the MVP stage, or actively working on the MVP. We want to see that you are serious and actively working on your venture. We won’t disqualify everyone else but will keep folks at the idea stage on the waitlist for the future.
Can I apply if my startup is not in cybersecurity?
At this time, we are only looking for cybersecurity startups. If your startup is not in cybersecurity, we will keep your application for the future and reach out if/when we decide to expand to other cybersecurity-adjacent areas.
Do I need to commit to a minimum number of hours?
There is no commitment of any kind but we ask that you only apply if you are actively looking for advisors. This will ensure that it will be a good use of everyone’s time.
How much does it cost to participate?
Building Cyber Collective is a grassroots initiative, and it’s entirely free (no catch).
Can I use the community to pitch my products/services and look for new customers?
We know it is hard for early-stage startups to find leads, and we empathize with that. However, it is not the problem the Building Cyber collective is solving (in any case, not directly). We want to connect professionals willing to share their experience building something great with security startups that really need this experience.
There will be zero tolerance for those who choose to spam other participants of the collective.
What if I really like someone in the community and I want them to join as an investor/co-founder/etc.?
You are free to develop the relationship in any direction that suits you.
I am still in stealth - what if someone steals my idea?
As a community initiative, we want to stay away from any drama and ask that you make decisions that make sense in your situation and disclose as much or as little as will be sufficient for advisors to get interested in your startup. If you submit an empty startup profile with everything “in stealth mode”, we will likely ask you to wait until the details are public before inviting you to the community.
I am a founder of an open-source project. Do I qualify?
Absolutely, we would love to see more open source founders.
Is it like an accelerator or a startup incubator?
Not exactly. Our focus is on connecting people in the ecosystem who are building the future of cybersecurity. There is no program, set outcomes, or well-defined milestone we expect startups to hit. We want to make it easy for startups to get the resources they need to succeed; how you choose to leverage these resources is entirely up to you.
Will there be my competitors in the community?
Probably. Please use your own discretion when it comes to sharing confidential details. There is almost always a way to ask a question and get help without revealing all of your darkest secrets.
How can I make sure that the information I share with advisors will remain private?
We always hope that people we trust will deliver on their promises. However, hope is not a strategy - please consult your legal counsel about working with advisors, have them sign NDA forms, and take other steps you deem necessary. As always, this is between you & the advisor.
Can I join as an investor?
Yes. Investors can browse the profiles of startups/advisors and request connections.
Other questions? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org