It turns out that giving something away for free has turned into a big money opportunity for the Atlanta-based company School programs.
The cybersecurity education platform released a free version of its plan last November as a way to give back to the community and raise awareness of security issues.
“The moment we launched, we were approached by several strategic inbounds, as well as VCs, private equity and everything in between,” CEO Nick Santora said Hippopotamus.
This eventually opened up a conversation with Hunterbased in Maryland focused on SMBs managed security platform that has helped over 68,000 businesses with their cybersecurity needs.
Huntress announced today that it has acquired Curricula for $22 million.
That’s an impressive number for a company that was launched in its first five years and collected a $3 million Series A at the beginning of 2020 The timing of the deal is also something to note. M&A deals are down nearly 26% year-on-year as companies prepare for an uncertain second half of 2022, according to a recent Reuters analysis.
But Santora said the time was ultimately right to open a new chapter in Curricula’s growth story.
“There were a lot of people looking at us. But in the end, when we sat down and aligned the ideals and cultures and values and where we wanted to take the company…we found that it was more than perfect [for Curricula]Santora added. “We have a somewhat combined customer base. [Huntress] is there to protect against endpoint threats and attacks, and we’re designed to help the actual employees using those endpoints. We think that together these two products complement each other so well that it’s almost like 1 + 1 = 100.”
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE CURRICULUM
Curriculums were launched for the first five years before joining forces with small private equity firm RCP Equity for its Series A. Santora added in a blog post that he had to take out personal loans and make other huge personal sacrifices to support the academic programs.
Along the way, Curricula has created its own animated world to help explain the difficult and ever-changing world of cybersecurity to businesses of all sizes. DeeDee, a 5-year-old hacker villain, became the face of the brand and helped make security education more fun and easy.
Along with creating a new cast of animated characters, Santora built a team of nearly 20 people, according to LinkedIn.
Santora said the Curricula team, including the founders, will remain on board as they “grow” after the acquisition.
“It was probably the biggest challenge of my life to take a company from absolutely nothing to where it is today,” Santora said. When asked what was most important about building the startup, he said it was “putting together a team of people who probably would never have been together.”
Curricula is headquartered in Atlanta Tech Village with employees working remotely across the country.
“We weren’t the biggest name on the radar. We basically started and worked very hard to get to where we are and stayed under the radar on purpose,” Santora added.
Santora now gives free advice to other founders looking to scale their idea.
“It’s not about idolizing fundraising circles as the only form of success there is. It’s just a milestone to achieve. We think there are many opportunities for startups to partner with organizations that are on the rocket ship… and together they can look for opportunities to combine products, vision, teams or missions to make something bigger than themselves. “