Two cybersecurity firms win $2M each in annual DataTribe pitch contest – Baltimore Business Journal

Two startups were named co-winners of DataTribe’s fourth annual cybersecurity pitch competition, meaning both are eligible for up to $2 million from the Fulton-based startup studio.
The winners are ContraForce, a Dallas company that helps businesses detect cybersecurity threats, and, a Virginia firm that creates training datasets for text-based machine learning.
Judges for DataTribe’s startup challenge typically choose one winner, but the company said in a news release that judges were duly impressed by ContraForce and
“Each of these winners exemplifies the disruptive technology and thinking needed to make it in the competitive cybersecurity market,” the press release said.
The 2021 contest had five judges: Bob Ackerman, DataTribe’s co-founder; Shamla Naidoo, the head of cloud security at Netskope; Navin Maharaj, the director of Koch Disruptive Technologies; Ron Gula, co-founder of Gula Tech Adventures; and Arno Van Der Walt, the chief information security officer at Marriott International. The contest took place on Wednesday at the offices of DataTribe in Fulton. The competition was limited to startups that have raised $1.2 million or less so far. 
ContraForce CEO Stan Golubchik called the win an “incredible honor and milestone” for the startup. 
“The opportunity to partner and learn from this esteemed group of DataTribe partners will certainly drive our strategic approach to go-to-market success,” Golubchik said. Shannon Hynds said the startup was “thrilled” with the victory.
“As we move forward with DataTribe, is ready to be propelled forward as we scale out our unique approach to making the curation of high-quality training data for machine learning models substantially easier,” Hynds said.
Code Dx, the winner of the 2019 competition, was acquired by California-based Synopsis for an undisclosed sum this summer.
“The exit was a demonstration of the Challenge’s ability to draw top cybersecurity solutions, as well as of the success of the DataTribe model of partnering with over the horizon technology coming out of national security agencies,” the release said. 
SightGain, a Washington, D.C.-based startup won the 2020 competition, which was held virtually. The company focuses on combatting cyber threats and uses known cyber attack tactics to test companies’ vulnerabilities.
“Winning the 2020 DataTribe Challenge was a big catalyst for SightGain achieving product and market momentum needed to bring on new customers,” SightGain CEO Christian Sorrenson said in a press release. “Through DataTribe’s unique foundry approach, SightGain reaps the knowledge, trust, and expertise of partners who have taken companies through meaningful exits.”
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