Five weeks in: business is blooming from inside the NCSC Cyber Accelerator 5th Cohort

21 Aug 2020

We started our 10 week residence in Cheltenham back in July when we joined the National Cyber Security Centre Cyber Accelerator 5th Cohort, which forms part of the UK Government’s £1.9billion National Cyber Security Strategy. As we reach the halfway mark, here’s recap on what we’ve achieved so far. 

Finding our feet

The first few days in the Accelerator were really all about the community. The NCSC and Wayra UK made it a priority for everyone to invest time in personal introductions and meaningful connections to help ensure both the team running the programme and the cohort members were set up to get the best out of the next 9 weeks. Even better was we’ve done it all while social distancing, and the proof is in the pictures! 

The programme was initially owned by GCHQ, and later taken on by the NCSC and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCSC) as a joint initiative to support companies getting their products to market. So far, 30 organisations have been successfully mentored through the scheme. The objective of the programme is to find and support up and coming businesses in cyber security with all the tools they need – including the opportunity to pitch to an extensive investor network – to propel their proposition and take on the challenges of the future, faster. Naq Cyber was selected as one of the six U.K. tech startups to join this cohort for our future-focused solution for small businesses. See the full press release here.  

A packed agenda

Each week spent in the Cyber Accelerator has been accompanied by a full schedule consisting of learning exercises, one on one discussions with experts and industry leaders, group sessions and time to put it all into action back at our desks. 

Meeting with NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Skills and Growth, Chris Ensor, to get firsthand feedback was such a privilege, and gave us a great deal to consider ahead of the other sessions we were still yet to participate in. 

We talked through exactly how the Naq solution has been designed and how we plan on enhancing our capabilities going forward, where Chris gave his expert opinion on our roadmap. We then spent some time talking about how the Cyber Essentials scheme will evolve, and how this fits into the Naq proposition. Chris was also able to provide some useful contacts in the NCSC who we could work with.

As co-founders, we bring over 10 years collective experience in cyber security policy and GDPR law to our business, but as a brand we are still very young. The brilliant thing about this is that while we’ve already taken careful steps to create the foundations of our values, identity and vision, now is a great time to dissect our value proposition further as we launch a collection of targeted campaigns to the small business market throughout the remainder of 2020. Our meeting with Deborah Wood enabled us to do exactly that; Deborah’s expertise in designing offers that  create value for the customer as well as the business, plus her experience with blue chip brands in both product and service categories provides value to any young startup with ambition. We loved her pragmatic coaching style and left the session with enthusiasm to build on our existing foundations with a proposition that really will work in practice.

Masterclass highlights 

Thanks to Jenny Millar for a highly useful session on pricing – absolutely fundamental to our proposition work and an ongoing topic of discussion on our team chat. So many different approaches to pricing out there nowadays, and for us it’s particularly important that our pricing suits our target market, as opposed to follows a trend. Jenny’s insights certainly played a role in helping us structure our thinking here, and we’ve spent some time back at the drawing board with our buyer personas in hand to help us make key decisions.

Our CEO and legal expert, Nadia, was all ears to learn from the one and only MJ Rippon in week four’s Legal Masterclass. 

MJ Rippon is known as one of the country’s leading lawyers in the tech start-up space and specialises in assisting with whatever is required to take an idea to market, chiefly where the client is an owner managed business or a new start or where an established business wishes to commence a new project.

The things we believe are missing from the cyber security industry are what drove us to create Naq – we are not here to be like everybody else. So working with David Clayton on how we can embrace a fully collaborative approach and help small businesses as a trusted advisor was particularly refreshing for us; sales conversions are what we’re all seeking, but the numbers mean nothing if they’re not engaged, loyal customers. And that means nurturing relationships over time, and building ones that last. 

More highlights include a pitching masterclass with Anthony David King, a session on product development with Uri Gonda, and a technical 121 with John Davis

Sustaining momentum 

We’ve also been working hard in the background to develop and launch our content marketing strategy – and we quite literally can’t get enough of all the content opportunities the Accelerator has provided so far. From weekly vlogs intentionally shot at the pinkest café Cheltenham has to offer, to countless requests to contribute to blogs and articles written and curated by the NCSC and Wayra UK, it’s all being thoughtfully integrated into our overall brand identity. 

Last week we launched our #smallbusinessseries. This series of downloads has been designed specifically for small business owners to help simplify the task of improving your cyber resilience, and to demonstrate that cyber security isn’t complex, all-consuming or inaccessible. And soon, we’ll be releasing a short and simple guide to GDPR – turns out it’s not as much of a monster as you may have initially thought. 

Looking ahead

Part of our business proposition is to always be looking ahead at how we can empower our customers to protect their organisations, information assets and hard-earned reputations from increasingly difficult to spot cyber security threats. 

Looking ahead to the remaining five weeks in the Cyber Accelerator, we’re sure  our time in Cheltenham will involve plenty more hard work and invaluable introductions and insights into the industry we’re determined to make more accessible to a huge proportion of the U.K. economy who, until now, have largely been overlooked by cyber security solutions targeted to large corporates. It’s difficult to predict when any organisation might be targeted with an attack, but one thing we can be confident about is our ongoing relationship with this cohort and everyone who gives their energy into making the programme happen. So far, each day is providing us with the fuel we need to keep moving forward.