The Virginia Tech Investor Network spotted a winner when alumnus Wayne Chiang and Ryan Trost sought funding for their startup, ThreatQuotient Inc., in 2015.  

The Reston-based cybersecurity firm was the first startup supported by the new angel group of Virginia Tech alumni formed in the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

A year later, ThreatQuotient has already garnered a long and impressive list of honors, including the 2016 Northern Virginia Technology Council Hot Ticket Award for Hottest Cybersecurity and Safety Innovation; two 2016 Info Security Products Guide Silver Global Excellence Awards (Startup of the Year; Innovation in Enterprise Security); Top 20 Cybersecurity Startup to Watch in 2016 by Dark Reading; and Top 10 Virginia Startup to Watch in 2016 by DC Inno.

None of ThreatQuotient’s success is surprising to Virginia Tech alumni Win Sheridan and Todd Headley, chair and vice chair respectively, of the Apex Systems Center advisory board.

“Given my 30 years of hands-on experience in technology startups and cybersecurity, I was invited by a fellow Hokie to an investment review where three cybersecurity startup companies were presenting. I was immediately drawn to ThreatQuotient by how Wayne and Ryan's direct experience resulted in the creation of their platform to automate the handling and prioritizing of mass quantities of threat intelligence data – a tangible and growing issue,” said Headley, who graduated from Tech with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1985.

“What sealed the deal for me was their early Fortune 500 customer traction,” he continued. “I felt compelled to advocate their vision to the Virginia Tech Investor Network to garner both financial support as well as personal networking to help them move the company to the next stage.”

ThreatQuotient received $800,000 from the network, and then Headley introduced Chiang to Sheridan.

“I think the success of ThreatQuotient is a great example of the power of the Virginia Tech Investor Network and the center's network. Once introduced, I was blown away by Wayne and Ryan's energy and enthusiasm for the company they had built and the tremendous opportunity to grow,” said Sheridan, who graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1994.

“Their willingness and humility as entrepreneurs to bring in an experienced executive team that could help ThreatQuotient realize its full potential resonated with me since not many founders in their position would do the same,” he said. “That was a game changer for ThreatQuotient."

Chiang said he is amazed at the power of the Hokie network and how much ThreatQuotient was able to raise as a result, totaling more than $25 million, including investments from top-tier venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates.

“Hokies really do stand together,” he said.

Chiang earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2006 and a master’s of information technology degree in the National Capital Region in 2009. His first job was consulting at IBM; later, he moved to General Dynamics where he worked on cybersecurity software. 

“At General Dynamics I got a good understanding of how difficult it is for large enterprises to fight against their adversaries and had some exposure to various cyberthreats,” said Chiang. “At the same time, I got a lot of hands-on experience with cybersecurity platforms, saw how threats operate, and was able to develop a skill set that allowed me to strike out on my own.

“I wanted to start a company that would give clients a dedicated platform from which they could manage and enrich threat intelligence to defend against sophisticated cyberattacks,” he said.

Chiang has joined Apex Systems Center as its youngest advisory board member.

“I am very excited about this role that helps me identify and create a new generation of student innovators and growing the Hokie network," he said.  

Last summer, Chiang hired Reed Koser, from McLean, Virginia, a sophomore majoring in computer science, to work at ThreatQuotient.

Koser is a student in the Apex Systems Center-sponsored Innovate living-learning community that brings a diverse group of committed and driven students together in a high-energy learning environment. Innovate provides an opportunity for students to gain insights into the entrepreneurial process, interact with successful entrepreneurs, and learn from Virginia Tech faculty and community partners.

Chiang describes Koser as “on fire, and a complete rock star” and someone he would have hired full-time had he already graduated.

“Internships are so important to getting a job when you graduate,” said Koser. “But it’s so hard to get anyone to even give you the time of day, especially when you are just finishing up your freshman year.”

Koser said that “working at ThreatQuotient was a great experience. I was doing real work as part of a team that developed prototypes for integration between threat intelligence platform and applications. 

“It was gratifying to have a successful entrepreneur like Wayne appreciate my work and validate for me that I was on the right career track,” said Koser.

“There really is no better example for us to showcase our vision of Hokies helping Hokies,” said  Derick Maggard, executive director of the Apex Systems Center. “The idea is to link innovators and entrepreneurs to sustain technology growth, locate sources of capital, and recognize and promote young talent. And ThreatQuotient has done it all.”

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