VIP San Francisco Team Pursues Online Security

By Irina Yuen

WEP’s Venture Initiation Program, an educational incubator for Penn startups, has expanded to include teams from the MBA Program for Executives at Wharton | San Francisco.

Teams receive coaching and assistance from a board of advisors, including Wharton faculty and alumni, and are also expected to help each other through group advising sessions that are led by Wharton professor Len Lodish. Six teams from the MBA Program for Executives have been accepted into the Summer 2012 term.   They represent a wide range of markets and opportunities.

This week, we highlight one of the teams, Securly.

Securly, a venture co-founded by Vinay Mahadik (WG’13) and Bharath Madhusudan, keeps kids safe online by not only blocking adult sites, but also by providing a unique safe browsing experience on popular sites including Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Wikipedia. Vinay and Bharath are network security veterans with over seventeen years of collective security experience with major players such as McAfee and Huawei. This allows them to bring to parents the type of security that previously was limited only to enterprise networks, and with an easy one-step installation.

Vinay and Bharath established co-founder chemistry by being part-time entrepreneurs together since 2006.  They had previously built, a professional networking site for musicians, featured in several Indian magazines.  In addition, they had recently built a personalized product recommendations mobile application.  By founding Securly, they have returned to their domain expertise area, network security.

Incubating at Wharton

Vinay founded Securly with Bharath two terms into his MBA program for Executives at Wharton | San Francisco.  “So far, the timing couldn’t have felt better. Right when we were conceptualizing Securly, Professor David Bell’s class introduced the value of segmentation, targeting and positioning.  Professor Srinivasan’s conjoint analysis class then allowed us to identify benefit segments within the consumer market we could target with the right set of features. Professor Jeff Dyer and David Bryce’s class on competitive strategy provided a framework for understanding the competitive forces and also strategies on going up against larger incumbents,” says Vinay.

Vinay and Bharath, Founders of Securly

Securly was named a semi-finalist team in the Wharton Business Plan Competition, and also ranked amongst the top four teams in Wharton | San Francisco’s Spring Pitch event.  “[The Spring Pitch] gave us access to 20+ judges who were either partners at top VC firms or successful entrepreneurs within a matter of weeks [of launching our beta],” reflects Vinay. Securly was recently admitted into Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program (VIP) in San Francisco, which has helped to further the venture on multiple fronts.  “First, we meet twice a month for a group advising session where all the founders discuss top issues they are facing. Tips from our peers in the program allowed us to get past the mental block that hiring talented folks is hard for an early stage startup – in fact, we ended up hiring two interns, headed to CS programs at MIT and CMU at the end of the summer. Second, VIP also got us in touch with Ashmeet Sidana (WG’03), General Partner from Foundation Capital, who will mentor us on a monthly basis through the various stages of our growth,” states Vinay.

Securly continues to iterate its product and marketing efforts and recently pivoted its focus to include K-12 schools in addition to consumers.  Since launching in May 2012, Securly was accepted into Imagine K12, a sister accelerator to Y-Combinator focused on education, and is looking forward to unveiling its product during Imagine K12’s demo day in September.

Please join us in wishing them and our other teams – who we will be writing about in the future – every success.