In the arid deserts of southern Africa, thousands of little meerkats – small mongooses beloved in the world for lending their features to the character of Timon in the animated film The Lion King – stand vigilant outside their burrows to alert their pack of any possible danger. Inspired by their dedication and their Latin name Suricata, entrepreneur Lee Kappon decided to name her cybersecurity company Suridata.
Kappon was recently featured on the No Limits: A New Era of Start-ups podcast by The Jerusalem Post and New Era Capital Partners, one of Israel’s leading venture capital firms.
In each episode, Maayan Hoffman, deputy CEO – strategy & innovation of The Jerusalem Post, and Gideon Argov, managing partner and co-Founder of New Era, highlight promising Israeli start-ups that not only offer excellent prospects for financial success but also have the potential to make positive changes in our society and help repair the world – “unicorns with a heart.”
Suridata’s SaaS Security platform enables organizations to secure the use of SaaS applications.
SaaS stands for “software as a service.” It includes all the solutions that allow users to connect to and use cloud-based apps over the Internet, such as email, calendaring, and office tools, as well as more complex systems such as products for sales management, customer relationship management (CRM), financial management, human resource management (HRM), billing, and collaboration.
“I aim to ensure that global enterprises are well aware of the straightforward path to addressing their hurdles. It’s essential for them to realize that safeguarding the utilization of SaaS applications need not be intricate, burdensome, or costly,” stated Kappon. “My goal is to convey that we provide an effective solution, while also instilling the sentiment that we are genuinely compassionate individuals.”
Suridata’s platform identifies risks of misconfigurations, third-party integrations, and users’ access. Once risks have been identified, the platform provides remediation guidelines according to best practices and security frameworks.
“When it comes to SaaS, organizations are storing their entire activities, operations, and data in someone else’s hands,” Kappon noted. “The inherent risk is the shared responsibility model. For example, data is stored in
Salesforce, Microsoft, Slack, GitHub, and many more. Frequently, companies remain unaware that these service providers ensure the security of their own infrastructure. However, every organization still bears the responsibility of safeguarding their application usage—dictating user actions, sharing practices, and active engagement within it.”For this reason, companies still need security controls to monitor these elements and ensure that the systems are properly set up.
“Here’s our approach: We deeply understand the organization and propose necessary improvements for enhancing the security of all applications,” Kappon explained. “It’s a complicated process. With hundreds of SaaS applications in use today, and their numbers continually escalating, particularly post the pandemic, the scenario is both promising and demanding. While this growth is advantageous, it simultaneously poses challenges for enterprises to ensure their security. Hence, we’ve evolved into the experts who excel at handling this impossible task.”
Kappon described the cybersecurity field as a constant race.
“New technologies mean new gaps to close and new ways that attackers can manipulate their way into an organization’s system,” she said. “Our goal is to always stay a step ahead.”
For this reason, the entrepreneur explained that Suridata’s research team is constantly working.“It is crucial to identify new threats, how they can be exploited by hackers, and how to reduce the risk to zero,” she said. “In addition, it is important to understand what is important to the business you are helping and how to prioritize. Cybersecurity is a constant race, but this is what I love about it because it is always changing and requiring us to think differently and innovatively.”
‘It is crucial to identify new threats, how they can be exploited by hackers, and how to reduce the risk to zero’
As a cybersecurity start-up founder and CEO, Kappon admitted that she is unusual in many ways. “I have a completely different background than the vast majority of cybersecurity entrepreneurs here in Israel,” she said. “I did not serve in a cybersecurity unit in the army, and I did not work for a large cybersecurity company before establishing Suridata. However, I identified a need, I validated it, I understood the pain behind it, and I decided I wanted to solve it.”
According to Kappon, gathering a strong team of people “who are better than me in every cybersecurity aspect” has been crucial to Suridata’s success.
At the same time, the drive to constantly learn, improve, and ultimately succeed has been one of the major pillars of the entrepreneur’s life
A Haifa native, Kappon said she always loved Tel Aviv, and she has been inspired by her mother to always pursue her goals.
“I have seen my mother achieving a lot of things,” she said. “It might sound obvious to take one of your parents as a role model, but she really is. She raised four girls while also completing a PhD. Watching her, I saw how if you have a target, you can achieve it, no matter what.
“She always told me that I could choose to become whatever I wanted to, but that then I would have to try, work hard, and be the best,” Kappon added. “This is why, even with my unusual background, I have worked hard to be as good as everyone else and to keep growing.”
Female founders are also rare in the cybersecurity field.
“I never thought too much about it, but once you start seeing how people comment about the issue all the time, you start to realize that the question exists,” she admitted.
Kappon highlighted that the secrets to succeeding in this perspective include being confident and having a very supportive partner. She and her husband, Amit, have a young son, Dan.
“I could not do it without my husband and his dedication,” she said. “In addition, you have to believe in yourself. When I hear a ‘no’ from someone, it just makes me more excited and motivated to prove them wrong.
“I would say that if you believe in yourself, if you do the process right, have a good validation and a good understanding of what work you’re going into, just go for it,” she added. “Don’t think too much about how difficult it is going to be because there are always going to be more reasons not to do it than to do it.”
This approach is also key to navigating the market’s current troubled times.
“I have never really considered the possibility that my start-up would not succeed, and I do not consider it now,” Kappon said. “I know that many companies don’t make it, but I always think that this has nothing to do with me.”
Established in 2019, Suridata has raised over $11 million and currently employs some 32 people.
Kappon recently moved to New York to be closer to the company’s customers, most of whom are located in the US.“We are working to hire a whole go-to-market team there,” she said.
For Kappon, it is not her first time living in America. In high school, she spent a semester in Texas – an experience that she described as incredibly formative to play the role of a de facto ambassador of Israel when she is abroad, which is common for many Israeli entrepreneurs.
“I was part of my school’s Young Ambassadors Program. There were eleven of us, and each was sent to a different state with the goal of explaining to people about Israel and its reality,” she recalled. “I lived for four months in Houston, Texas, hosted by a local Jewish family. I cannot recount how many times I was asked by people if we moved around riding camels. After that experience, everything else is easy.”
According to the entrepreneur, when people ask questions, especially tough questions, it is critical to remain calm.“It is important to take a deep breath before answering a tough question,” she said. “However, I think that in the tech industry, things are a little different than in other situation. People understand the power of technology in Israel and are aware of Israel’s good reputation. Therefore, they look at us as experts, and they are more open to listening and having a conversation.”
The article was written in cooperation with New Era Capital Partners.