Incubator Recruits Intelligence Workers to Start Companies


Intelligence agencies, NSA, Cyber CommandA new incubator based in Silicon Valley and Maryland wants to invest in entrepreneurs who are currently working in government and want to start their own businesses based in emerging technology sectors such as cybersecurity and big data.

DataTribe invests up to $3 million in these startups to take advantage of the entrepreneurial skills of government workers in the greater Washington region, said Yonald Chery, the incubator’s chief technology officer.

Chery explained that DataTribe is looking for companies working on revolutionary technology advancements. “We are not looking for incremental changes,” he said.

DataTribe established an office in Fulton, Maryland, as well as San Francisco because of the amount of cybersecurity talent in the greater Washington region. Cybersecurity experts in government agencies are exposed to major threats not often seen in the private commercial world, Chery said.

“If you are looking for cyber talent, this is one of the top areas to come to,” he said.

DataTribe is focusing on finding companies in cybersecurity, analytics, big data and big data management, Chery said. So far, the incubator has three companies in its portfolio: Dragos, Kesala and Enveil.

The incubator offers startups up to $1.5 million in seed funding and up to $1.5 million in A Round funding. This level of funding is significantly higher compared to other incubators in the greater Washington region, Chery said.

DataTribe founders Steven Witt, Mike Janke and Bob Ackerman each founded and led technology companies in the past. Chery himself spent his career starting companies, mostly based around Boston. He joined DataTribe after seven years working with the Defense Department.

DataTribe sees cybersecurity and big data as areas where further investment will be found. Cybersecurity threats will continue to grow forcing government and company leaders to invest in protection, he says.

“Cyber is not a threat to be taken lightly,” Chery said.

You can learn more about DataTribe by listening to his interview below on What’s Working in Washington with Jonathan Aberman.

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