Entrepreneur Shrav Mehta has already raised tens of millions of dollars for his security startup, and they have a lot of room to grow. His venture Secureframe has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Kleiner Perkins, Gradient Ventures, Accomplice Ventures, and Base10 Partners.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Building your team
- Great books for entrepreneurs
- The future of security
- Shrav Mehta’s top advice for starting a business
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For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).
Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
About Shrav Mehta:
Shrav Mehta is the co-founder of Secureframe, a B2B security compliance start-up that helps businesses maintain cybersecurity certifications.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
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Alejandro: Hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So today. We’re gonna have a very interesting founder I think that we’re gonna be learning quite a bit from his experience I think that we’re you’re gonna be quite inspired. You know from simplifying it to. Finding full vulnerabilities. You know in in in high school I mean you name it I think that we’re gonna be having quite a bit of fun here listening to the story so without further do less work. Let’s welcome our guests today sharav metta welcome to the show. So originally born and raised in the bay area.
Shrav Mehta: Thanks for having me Andre.
Alejandro: So how was life growing up there. Give us a walk through memory lane.
Shrav Mehta: You know it’s incredible. You know we still have incredible weather here in the bay area and you know I still consider it. You know my home. Um I you know was I’m really grateful to have grown up in the bay area because I really got to see you know Silicon Valley you know built around me. Got me, you know, coding at a very young age I you know I started coding when I was just you know nine or ten years old and you know I think you know being in Silicon Valley it was one of the best places to you know, just be around everything that was happening in technology and it was you know, truly inspiring for me.
Alejandro: Now in your caves you know like you started coding quite early. You know at 9 years old I mean at 9 years old I mean there were so many things that I did but definitely not coding so how did you get the book to get into coding so young.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, you know I was always just fascinated by computers even like you know before I started coding you know I remember you know my parents. Um, you know, brought back like a laptop you know from work one day and I was just trying to figure out how how did the Cd -rom you know work and I think you know what? what my parents told me is I put. plato Plato now in the cd -rom because I thought that’s how you make software. You just put something in the cd -rom and like the game just shows up so I was like oh maybe I can make you know a playto game in you know that computer just broke down you know instantly and I still you know, remember it? Um, you know to this day. But. I was just so fascinated with computers and breaking them apart and you know playing with them. You know as much as I could um and you know I think when the iphone and you know android none came out that was kind of like you know the jaw drop moment for me, you know this was like a device they could feel like a touch. You know I you know saw people with it everywhere. And you know I wanted to you know, really develop you know apps you know for it as soon as they had you know the app store up so that was you know, probably 1 of the most pivotal moments where I really really got into you know, coding and got so excited by it.
Alejandro: Now one of the things that they really got you exposed to to security to certain degree was say you know just say playing around with computers in school. We say almost got you in trouble. So what happened there.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, yeah, so you know there was this time in high school where you know I was just really bored I didn’t have you know a ton a ton to do so you know our high school they release you know schedules you know in advance you know with all the teachers and stuff that you’re getting and I wanted to figure out am I getting of the easy teachers or the hard teachers and you know what am I signing up. And so I spent you know, probably like a whole day. You know trying to you know, just like play around with like the scheduling software and like the website to kind of prepare for all this um and you know I found this like vulnerability that let me see you know all my you know, predefined schedules and stuff in advance. But I didn’t you know I didn’t just stop there I shared it with a bunch of my friends and you know people in my classes. So so that everyone could kind of take a look and eventually got back. You know to the school admin and I was in this like you know leadership program where like you know the Principal and a lot of you know folks are involved so like the Principal you know called Me. You know right away and said like you know I’m in a lot of trouble like what what were you thinking? you know, like looking at you know all these schedules and stuff in advance now. Everyone’s trying to you know, make changes ahead of time. Um, and you know he had me. You know, come in and explain to like the it staff like you know what I did and you know how to fix it and you know the it staff was you know, fairly nice and. Um, you know I you know they told me I was originally going to be in like a lot of trouble. But um, you know I think that it you know staff probably had a bit of a soft spot. Um, you know for some of the stuff I was doing and they you know they let me go um you know without you know any? you know any penalties or anything but it was definitely like an eye-opening moment for me in. As far as like you know security and you know what I could be doing to you know, help people. Um and you know things that you know ah that’ll get me in a bit less trouble.
Alejandro: I hear you now talking about getting in less trouble I mean encountering Ios and Android so how did you really? you know establish that that None day contact with them and and why did you find that so fascinating.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah I mean I think the the big thing you know with Ios and Android it was just like a revolutionary launch you know at the time. Um and you know as growing up, you know all around it. You know all these folks had you know iphones and androids in their pocket and they had just released an app store and. You know, a lot of the programming that I was doing at the time was like you know facing a computer terminal and you know you know playing with a bunch of scripts you know web apps you know I I wasn’t even really playing with web apps. You know at that time to the same level other than some like you know, basic Html and Css. Um, so when I saw that like hey we could produce like a graphical you know, output on like a mobile device and like I could build like almost like a you know you know game boy game or something like that that I grew up with um you know I was just so you know, excited and inspired. But you know it required like a much bigger skill set. There weren’t a lot of books or anything on this. So. Took me a while to like learn and figure this stuff out and um I eventually started developing you know on Android because I just had you know more experience with Java than you know objective c at the time which was really not you know a super you know, popular language and the other thing is on Iphone. It took you know you have to pay $100 a year and it could take like a month or 2 to get apps approved and. Um, so I ended up going with Android where you know you paid $25 and at the time I think it was just a one-time fee and your apps went instantly. You know, live on the app store. Um, so you know it was just a lot more exciting and it just got me super engaged. You know I think I developed like 10 different apps and like. You know a single year just by you know, working every weekend you know outside of school to you know, push these out.
Alejandro: Now it’s interesting. You know for you that you know someone that has been born and raised in the Bay Area you know where you’ve had the exposure there to all the innovation to many of your friends probably launching their own businesses. Why do you think you know it took you so long I mean you you actually made a very wise and very um. I would say there’s like a a really interesting decision where instead of like really going at it yourself. You waited a little bit and you decided to work with the with the absolute best before doing so so who gave you that piece of advice because typically people would just go at it right away without really understanding. What’s in front of them. But in this case, you know like you. Make that decision and you actually wanted to really learn the ropes first have visibility and then eventually you know like go at it on your own.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, um, so that’s like that’s a great question. You know when I was actually it kind of goes back to when I was developing these Android apps so I was developing them before you know Android even had paid apps you know available at the store like they just hadn’t you know you know built that in yet and it was you know in progress at the time. So I had like a very early none mover advantage you know if I you know released something in the app store. It would you know instantly become a hit and so I didn’t understand like marketing and sales and stuff at this time and I had actually you know invested you know a year with a couple friends who I got involved in this project to build this game called you know candy bot. You know, maybe somewhere. There’s probably the apk somewhere around the web still um and you know we had spent you know, almost like None different summers working on it and you know just invested so much more time and you know by the time we had launched it. You know we had kind of lost this like none mover advantage there were a lot more sophisticated developers and. You know games from like companies like game loft and angry birds and stuff in the app store. So it was you know much harder to get traction and we we launched it and we got you know I think less than None downloads and most of those were probably like our friends and family and people we had sent it to and you know I was kind of confused I was like wait every half I launched before this like just instant viral hit I’d post it on the app store and. Um, you know a lot of those apps. You know, started declining over time because I was again losing this none mover advantage and I you know really didn’t understand it to the same level I do today and I still like think back to that moment. You know a ton but it was. Kind of realization where I had like you know, a lot to learn and I had a lot to like figure out and I really wanted to understand like the business side of things you know I had met with you know folks at like Google and like Zynga and some of these companies and I was like wow this is like you know the people that were competing against are like very very sophisticated. They have like a lot going on. They have like whole teams of people. And I’m out here with like you know None or two friends that you know just learned to program over the last few years you know building something you know against professionals so I was just like I had so much to learn. Um, you know I think it got me a lot less interested in like building apps and or sorry got got me a lot less interested in building games but it got me a lot more interested in our.
Alejandro: Now in your case you know going through all these different companies where you were able to have that visibility I mean you worked at the pilot you worked at scale where in 1 you were employee number one now that company is like over 300 employees the other one employee like 10 or 15 now they’re like over 1000
Shrav Mehta: Entrepreneurship.
Alejandro: Um, what? what does it look like when you go and and and you’re part of like the None members you know of of a company that is you know building rocket ship.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah I mean I think you know the early days are you know some of the most like defining you know for the company you know this early team is the one that sets the culture. You know they hire the next you know generation of folks that you know you bring onto the company. They’re going to be on. You know every single you know interview panel. So you know building. The founding team is you know so so critical and you know it’s very hard to you know, get right? You know quite frankly, you know one of the things I did when working in all these companies is like you’re surrounded by people that want to work at startups that have like a lot of ambition and you know this isn’t like the end of their you know career or anything so you know I tried to pull in people that have worked but. Worked with before that I would get along with well that I trusted you know their judgment on helping us bring in people and you know just people who you know wanted you know who had this like winning mentality who just wanted it. You know so bad that you know they were willing to like take this risk and you know even you know now when we bring on people to secure frame. Um, you know, especially in these times I tell people like look I’m not going to you know do-risk you know secure frame for you and and I’m not going to you know, tell you and drink all the koolaid and tell you that hey this is guaranteed to become a billion dollar company and you know I love you know for us to you know one day take secure frame public but I’m also not going to you know, sit here and you know. You know, tell you None you know for sure that you know this is everything that’s going to be happening like there is like an assumed amount of risk and I think you know employees like need to understand that and understand what they’re signing up for and I think you know the best employees at like startups. Um, you know, ah you know, understand that risk and you know you know are there for it. You know that’s what they signed up for you know outsized you know they’re getting a little taking on more risk but they’re hopefully you know looking for an outsized return.
Alejandro: Now Let’s talk about taking a little more risk at what point do you realize you know hey I think it’s my time now you know when because as they say you know it’s interesting in your case you know in high school. You know you were already you know dealing with security you know stuff you were already finding the vulnerability issues like we had talked. Before and ideas you know they take time to Incuate. You know they are they a doormat You know we don’t even know that they are there but eventually they evolve they progress they take different shapes of form and then there is perhaps certain sequences of events that that trigger us to really wanting to bring those ideas to life. So. In your case, what was that process like and at what point do you realize? hey you know it’s time for me to to to take this on my own and and get and go at it.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, so for a long time you know was always like you know, kind of you know, working on random projects in the weekend or you know anything that interested me whether it was coding or woodworking you know or something else like you know, always you know, just been fascinated by computers and I love to kind of get my hands dirty and. You know mess around with new technology. You know I’m always kind of the first to hop on to maybe not these days but you know I always used to like browse kickstarter for like the coolest hardware projects. You know, unfortunately in hardware like it’s very hard to you know, get a business working. There’s like you know you know a None more ways you know for your business to die. When you have you know a hardware product just related to costs and stuff. But you know I was exploring you know a lot of different things and um, you know I had a lot of people kind of coming to me, you know, asking for advice on like hey how did you get this soft to it like your previous companies like this is such a you know complicated you know process and industry and. Know when I was at you know la um, we had you know spent a ton on like lawyers and security consultants to figure this process out and we really didn’t so you know I had read the None page manual to you know figure this stuff all out myself and you know we’d gone. You know the report technically um you know from you know our auditor and you know the founders kept sending me a bunch of people who. You know, needed to get you know these certifications and reports but just couldn’t you know, figure out how and they sent them to me to you know, give them some advice and you know I’d be telling folks like hey this is like very complicated like there’s just no way it’s worth it until you’re over a none people and you’re dealing with you know these specific scenarios. Um, but still like all these you know you know companies decided hey they needed to get you know these certifications because it was essential for you know their business or to you know, be able to work with certain customers. So um, you know we ah you know fast forward to 20182019? you know, soft to and some of these standards started become you know the de facto standard out there. And I had people coming to me with these templates I had put on on Github and asking me like hey you know shra like how do you actually like use these templates like I see them I totally understand them. You know. Can you introduce me to auditors to work with and you know stuff like that. So I started asking a couple of these folks like hey you know if we built a product you know automate this like really now it’s possible. Because of the advent of like Apis and stuff to you know, make this much easier to pull in data from a of us or your hr system to you know automate a lot of these you know security certifications. Um, you know would you you know pay for it and you know a couple of these folks were like yes and. Think you know like um, you know a month went by and like 1 of them called me up and they were like okay so where is it like you know we need this like right away. Um, and I was like oh you know I was just kind of exploring and asking. But you know that was kind of the you know aha moment for me where you know I quit my job and you know started really working on it and um, you know by the time we launched.
Shrav Mehta: You know we had you know, probably more than like 40 customers. Yeah.
Alejandro: Now for the people that are listening to really get it. You know what ended up becoming the business model of secure frame.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, so we basically charge you know we basically charge like an annual fee. You know based on you know your company size the certifications you’re looking for and like you know, the overall you know, custom requirements that you might have as a business and then you know we charge you that you know on an annual basis. Um, and we help you get you know all the certifications that you want. We’re also you know launching a whole bunch of other you know products and services that you know will just you know be added on top of you know the platform.
Alejandro: And they obviously for you guys I mean it was quite um, quite an interesting seat round because then a lot of people were really or you thought that were really educated in in the space and you needed to simplify by a mile. You know the the pitch. So. So How was that journey of racing that seat round for you. All.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, you know, um I was like lucky you know was lucky enough to you know manage to raise our seed round. You know, ah you know with with great investors. But when we none um, you know when we first started you know pitching people a lot of people didn’t really understand you know what soc 2 or any of these security reviews and certifications were. You know I had investors kind of ask me like you know is this you know, even a real thing I don’t know any startups or companies that have had to get these I haven’t seen them anywhere so you know we weren’t you know the pitch really wasn’t landing with people. They didn’t believe that this was like a real problem that you know companies had. Um, but you know eventually you know we you know ran into you know, dary and shirazzzi at gradient ventures and t j at you know base None ventures and they had actually already been like researching the space and you know felt that this was going to be a really really big opportunity. And they had kind of seen it. You know before everyone else and like when you know I came along. They’re like you know we already have done like a lot of research in the space. We were very interested in funding something and we had kind of just connected with the right investors at the right time. Um, and you know we managed to get you know the seed round done but you know I will tell you like there was a lot of people really just didn’t understand the product because it was. It’s fairly complex. You know one of the reasons we started secure frame is because this is a fairly complex industry and product and stuff to kind of understand and you know secure frame. You know, generally helps simplify that but we still have to simplify you know the pitch to our investors and we didn’t really do a great job of that early on.
Alejandro: And there’s probably a lot of people that are right now in the process of maybe racing around or or they’re thinking about doing you know around and I think that’s simplifying you know simplicity is King. So how do you go about simplifying the pitch. Or how did you do that yourself.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah I mean I think None thing is like um you know a lot of investors. You know most investors are like fairly sophisticated. You know, many of them were former operators former engineers but you know even when you’re explaining a technical product to them. You know you might have like. 30 minute pitch meeting set up with them and then there’s some intros there’s some buffer you know some people might arrive late. You really have like you know None to 3 minutes to kind of get the high level idea and catch their attention and the hook. Um, you know for why they should pay attention. You know for the rest of this call and you know why they should be interested and. You know we learned that um you know we had to like really just simplify the process. So what I you know told people is like sock to is really just a giant list of things that you have to do in order to you know ah you know in order to secure your business and you know secure frame basically helps you automate that giant list of things and you know pretty much every company you know that wants. Sell to the enterprise or really even midmarket and s and b companies you know needs to have these security certifications where they just can’t sell. They can’t close revenue and they’re just less secure as a business and you know potentially more open to you know vulnerabilities and breaches. So when I started kind of explaining this and you know showing you know some of the early traction customers that we had. Um, you know people really started to understand that this was a problem that was developing and just hadn’t you know hit you know its full potential at that time. Um, by the time you know we were ready to start you know raising your series a you know we had a good list of investors and angels who were paying attention and following the business closely and it seemed that hey we had a lot of customer traction. You know we were bringing on a lot of you know, um, you know, annual recurring revenue and annual contracts and you know we had customers that really loved what we were doing and hey did the old painful ways of you know, getting these certifications. So um, you know a lot of people had just done a lot more research by our series. A. Um, we had created like memos. You know, really helping people understand and dive into the technology and you know what we were building so that you know everyone could kind of really understand and be prepared when you know we came you know together for like a meeting and that that was definitely like a you know big game changer for us.
Alejandro: And in terms of financing how much capital have you guys raised too late.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, so to date we’ve raised about 79,000,000
Alejandro: Now We’ve talked about here the seed Round. We’ve talked about also the series a so what happens you know, typically because when you go from the series a to the Series B is now when you’re transitioning from being an early stage company to now being more in growths Stage Mode. So What really happens during that transition and what kind of expectations. Do you typically perhaps in your case you know that you encounter.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, so um, you know I think there’s this kind of like saying there’s like nothing like numbers to ruin a great story I think in the last year you know there were a lot of companies that got funded at you know exuberant you know valuations you know some with like very limited revenue some you know even pre-product market fit. Um, and you know it’s not necessarily like always like a bad thing but you know now you know obviously the the market the economy you know has changed in values businesses that you are producing a lot more cash flow and revenue than you know how businesses were maybe being you know, evaluated you know in the last year so um you know I think it’s it’s always held true though that you need like you know the numbers to really prove your story and I think you know at series b that’s really kind of like you know the the cutoff point where you really have to you know show that you have a great business that’s ready to scale. And you know, go public you know investors are putting in a lot of money at that stage and they’re expecting you know a big outcome. They’re expecting to usually you know, get 10 x plus you know, probably more um you know over return from the company so they’re evaluating hey can this be you know a billion dollar company can this be a $10,000,000,000 company that you know we see going public. You know, do we believe in the team. The leadership. Product. Um, you know the customer the customers. You know everything so we raised about so 79000000 across all of our rounds and then I believe our series b was fifty Six mill
Alejandro: So what was the total amount raised shrav.
Alejandro: Got it I mean it’s an impressive tool. The people that you guys have you know people like klaer perkins you know and the and the other ones that you’ve mentioned So So really good stuff now in terms of you know the the operations you know and and where you guys are at you know the person I mean anything that you could share with the people that are listening to really get an idea of how. Big You guys are like maybe like number of employees or anything else that you feel comfortable sharing.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, yeah, so you know last year you know we grew our revenue you know 10 x and you know our customer base you know None x um, you know we increased like you know the average revenue we’re getting from our customers and you know our net dollar retention. You know has remained strong and you know, most importantly, you know we have customers that you know rely on secure frame and you know, really love you know everything that we’re building and you know everything that you know we plan to build to you know support. You know their security privacy and compliance operations you know in the future. So. You know these? um you know are you know some really you know hefty metrics to to meet you know on both like you know the revenue customer growth side and you know that’s really what allowed us to you know, raise you know a great round you know for our series. B.
Alejandro: And in terms of vision. Let’s talk about vision here for for a few minutes. So imagine you go to sleep tonight sureravan and you have this the sleep of a lifetime I mean you you wake up in a world five years later and all of a sudden the vision of secure frame is fully realized.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, so um, you know one of my you know controversial or maybe it’s not that controversial. But I’ll call it a hot take is that I don’t think soc two is going to be around in 10 years um you know I think you know the idea of security review security certifications will be you know around. Um in some form.
Alejandro: What does that world look like.
Shrav Mehta: But you know soc 2 you know itself has gone through several iterations that used to speak called like Sas 70 and used be called something else before that and it’s really iterated over time and you know it changes every couple of years as well as some of these other certifications and you know Pci IV4 is you know, right around the corner today. So you know I you know believe that you know if secure frame is successful. You know we will be able to you know define you know, modern security standards and really help you know secure the internet you know over the long term and I believe that you know secure frame will be. You know a household name where you know every company will be using some tool that we have you know in our suite to you know secure their business.
Alejandro: And in terms of um, you know now let’s take let’s take a look at at also you know, reflecting reflecting taking a look back and imagine if I was able to put you into a time machine and I bring you back in time and I bring you back in time to that moment that now maybe you were thinking about. You know, doing something of your own imagine you had the chance of I mean obviously now you’ve raised a lot of money you know you’ve’ve, you’ve been around the blog and you had the opportunity of have a chat with that younger shraff where you are able to share None piece of advice before launching ah a business. What will that be and why you know given what you know now.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, um, you know I think early you know when I was young I was like very you know, obsessed with school making sure that I got good grades and you know I you know sometimes like didn’t focus you know enough on my hobbies and the things that you know brought me excitement um and you know that’s the stuff I get to do on a daily basis today. Um, so what? I would tell myself is you know stop. Don’t stress about like the grades like the work you know, do stuff that you’re interested in and and just be the best at it.
Alejandro: Amazing and just saying out of curiosity. You know, like for the people that are listening what would be a book that you’ve read that you wouldn’t mind reading it a None time.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, um, so you know one book I’m reading right now is snowball which is like a biography of you know Warren Buffett and you know his life and you know so you know his thinkings. Um, it was written by you know someone who is who worked on his staff who was very close with them. You know I’m still you know going through the whole thing but you know it’s been. You know, very insightful and you know I you know I imagine I’ll probably have to read it. You know a none time to really get those deeper learnings.
Alejandro: That’s amazing I mean as they say his history repeats and and being able to to read all of those profiles and biographies is is is super helpful and I see by the way a lot of other founders. You know that have come on to show that that have shared that thing that. That they that they just you know at the beginning they just were reading and reading biographies and that really helped them to really understand you know, perhaps the path and the journey in front of them So Sharaf for the people that are listening. What is the best way for them to reach out and say hi.
Shrav Mehta: Yeah, so you know feel free to you know, check out our website at http://secureframe.com you know if you have you know any email you know anything that you want to send me directly feel free to just shoot me an email. You know my email is just Shrov at secureframe dot com and. Um, you know I regularly you know talk with our customers and you know try to get back to you know as many folks as I can.
Alejandro: Amazing. Well Shara it has been an honor to have you with us today on the dealmaker show. Thank you so much. Thank much.
Shrav Mehta: Thank you for having me.
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