Minority- and women-owned Hacware, Inc. was founded in 2016 with the goal to innovate through AI and cybersecurity product development. But this year, the startup and its founder, Tiffany Ricks, have continually made big moves.
Back in February, we told you about Hacware’s newly released product that gave businesses a metric for tackling the human side of cybersecurity management. Powered by advanced machine learning and natural language processing, it is what Ricks calls “one of the first autonomous White Hat Hacking applications.”
Also that month, Hacware was handpicked by Google for Startups’ Startup Grind to participate in the 2019 Startup Grind Global Conference. Hacware was then recognized as a top five finalist for Startup of the Year by Established, and Ricks spoke at the Big Data & AI Conference in June.
Despite starting Hacware as a bootstrapped business, Ricks—who is a four-time entrepreneur—has been able to grow the company into revenue-positive. And, when Dallas Innovates spoke with her earlier this year, she was in the process of raising her first seed round.
Now, Ricks and her team at Hacware have been chosen to participate in one of the country’s top accelerator programs, Techstars NYC.
The annual three-month program aims to help early-stage startups and their founders through hands-on mentorship, training, and relationship-building. Ten companies were chosen for the New York-based accelerator class—and out of those ten, six of the CEOs are women.
Not only is Ricks one of the female founders, she also represents the only company from Dallas-Fort Worth.
“I am excited to show New York and the Techstars ecosystem that Dallas startups are solving tough problems and have what it takes to build huge businesses,” she says. “I think they could tell that I was super hungry to make [Hacware] a success. I made a lot of traction since launching this product in February, and I didn’t stop in the face of challenges.”
Ricks also thinks Techstars was impressed with the traction she’s made as a solo founder. She credits Techstars’ managing director, Jenny Fielding, with working to create diversity in the program and really getting into Hacware’s vision.
Ricks says she’s looking forward to getting the resources she needs to “put Hacware and Dallas on the map.” Through the accelerator, she hopes to totally transform her company and put it in a place where more companies will be protected from getting email hacked.
“Our goal is by the end of the program is that we build out 50 percent of our leadership team, raise a seed round, improve the product, and bring on more customers,” she says. “For myself, Techstars is providing validation that stopping all consulting work and going without sales for months to focus on this anti-phishing product was the right decision.”
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