David Setzer, the founder and CEO of Greenville-based cybersecurity company Mailprotector, likes to joke that his company is “a 20-year-old startup.”
“We started so long ago here in Greenville, and at that time, there weren’t venture capital folks running around in Upstate South Carolina” Setzer said. “Since then, the landscape has changed significantly.”
Mailprotector — a cloud-based email security, compliance, encryption and hosting platform — is particularly emblematic of that change. The company has just raised $5 million in growth equity funding from Ballast Point Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Tampa, Florida. The funding will allow Mailprotector to accelerate product development, grow sales and marketing efforts, and expand its services.
Setzer said the business also plans to hire 30 additional employees, about three quarters of whom will be locally based.
“We’re creating tech that has strong market demand,” Setzer said. “But more than that, we want to help build the tech ecosystem here in Greenville, to get the momentum and the word out that Greenville is a great place for tech startups, and it’s a great place for investors to be looking into.”
Easy, but horribly difficult
Perhaps more so than any other industry, the technology field requires its practitioners to grapple with translating exceedingly complex products into something that is simple to understand for the general public.
It’s a challenge baked into Mailprotector’s business model.
“Email encryption is actually super easy,” Setzer said, “but making encryption people can use is horribly difficult.”
Mailprotector addressed that problem with its Bracket encrypted email solution, which allows encryption without any plug-ins, additional apps or convoluted updates, or having to remember multiple passwords. Users simply type the subject line of their email in brackets — [like so] – and the email is automatically encrypted.
“And we found that the easier encryption is to use, the more people use it and the safer it is to use it,” Setzer said.
The new round of funding will allow Mailprotector to build out Bracket and expand its complementary offerings.
“We’re not figuring out how to make a great product, and we’re not figuring out how to take that product to market,” Setzer said. “What was limiting us was the fact that we could only do a little bit of it because we didn’t have the resources. That’s now changed.”
Mailprotector is based in Greenville, but it doesn’t have to be. With 99 percent of its business coming from outside South Carolina, much of it outside the United States, the company could have set up shop anywhere.
But Setzer said keeping roots in Greenville is core to company’s identity and its history.
“We’re a product of the tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Greenville,” Setzer said. “It’s just a very cooperative environment, because we all want to see the tech and startup community grow here. And now that we’re starting to see more investors come through on a regular basis and set up shop here, it’s a great thing.”