Ukrainian-born, Israeli Nir Valtman raised $8 million to herald in his cybersecurity software startup, Arnica, to Alpharetta. Worldwide eyes and the most brilliant of minds are searching for security protection as governments, hospitals, cities, investment firms, ad infinitum worry about what evil player might seize their data.
Valtman gained traction as an expert after serving in the Israeli Air Force in a role that combined information technology (IT) and cybersecurity. He said, “It was a natural progression to move into the tech industry after the army. I was fortunate to have the time to work full-time as a cybersecurity consultant while getting my bachelor’s degree in computer science. Actually, much before then, I started to write code (more like instructions in specific order) when I was eight, and then, at the age of 13, my parents enrolled me into a Visual Basic course in the Tel Aviv University, which kicked me out after I ruined their computer lab with a piece of code that would be considered as malicious, nowadays only a prank that went wrong. This is when ‘hacking’ became my passion.”
Valtman, who moved from Ukraine to Israel at age four, came to Atlanta as the chief security officer at Retalix, a tech company in the retail software space. It was acquired by NCR, headquartered in Atlanta. Before taking the leap to his startup, he worked at both Kabbage and Finastra.
Demand for Arnica’s services stems from a rise in attacks on software development which increased by 650 percent, according to SONATYPE, a supply chain management platform. The increase is related to developers downloading software like Java and Python.
Explaining the process in lay terms, Valtman stated, “The adoption of cloud-native technologies created much more mature application delivery and security processes for companies. Cyber criminals are continuously looking for creative ways to take over sensitive data and systems, hence one of the most common ways is by targeting developers, who have access to their company’s source code. Without the proper controls to prevent attacks through the source code, the risk of changing the source code is equivalent to the risk of changing your production cloud systems, which is to say, ‘very high.’”
Valtman describes his best customers as the ones providing the most active feedback, regardless of size or industry. Their target market is wide because Arnica reduces risk, operational overhead, and costs while securing companies that are building software.
He explained, “Arnica will be most immediately relevant to companies that are beholden to compliance requirements like SOC2, Sarbanes-Oxley, or Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). For example, Arnica is particularly relevant for financial institutions because we help them accomplish specific requirements set out by the FFIEC guidelines they have to adhere to.”
Arnica has 15 full-time employees based out of a 600-square-foot office. Weighing office versus remote operations, Valtman said, “Arnica is a remote-first company, which means that no one needs to come to the office. Fortunately, all employees that live up to 30 minutes away from the office come every day. It builds the culture, people are open to talk about anything, everyone eats lunch together and sometimes it is just having fun, playing darts or PlayStation. Most of the team in Atlanta is focused on product, engineering, and security research.”
Valtman modestly assesses his strength as surrounding himself with people who are “smarter than he is.” His long game is, “Our goal is to shape a world in which software development is unimpeded by risk. As long as we are moving the needle in this direction, Arnica will be the best-in-class solution to secure the software supply chain.”
In terms of competition, Valtman remarked, “The software supply chain security space has become quite noisy in the last year. Arnica differentiates itself by mitigating risks, as opposed to many products that provide visibility only. We went one step further and offered full visibility for free for unlimited users, forever.”
As a footnote, “arnica” is a plant used as a natural balm for healing and bruising. Valtman took that into account when he named his company.
Valtman has three children, a supportive wife, and a mixed breed rescue pup.