Here’s what Jeremy Hitchcock is doing for an encore: trying to secure all your home and office devices and networks. Sounds like a nightmare.
But if there’s anyone who should try, it’s Hitchcock (pictured). He is the co-founder and former CEO of Dyn, the longstanding New Hampshire-based Web infrastructure firm that was sold to Oracle in late 2016, reportedly for $600 million-plus. That fall, Dyn (pronounced “dine”) was the target of a massive distributed denial-of-service attack that blocked online traffic to its customers, such as Twitter, Netflix, and Amazon Web Services. The attack was carried out using the “Mirai botnet,” malware that hijacked many thousands of Internet-connected devices—printers, routers, cameras, and so on—to send a flood of messages to overwhelm Dyn’s systems.
In the wake of that attack, Hitchcock ramped up his study of vulnerabilities in the Internet of Things. He wrote in an e-mail to Xconomy at the time: “IoT is creating a larger attack surface. To date, we have not seen enough capabilities to stop these types of attack.”
Which brings us to his new startup. Minim, based in Manchester, NH, was launched last year with the express purpose of securing IoT devices and managing Wi-Fi networks for homes and service providers. Today, the company announced a $2.5 million seed funding round led by Boston-area venture firms Flybridge Capital Partners and Founder Collective.
The early venture funding is a departure from Dyn, which was bootstrapped for over a decade before taking venture money—eventually some $100 million from investors including North Bridge Venture Partners and Pamplona Capital Management. Neither Flybridge nor Founder Collective invested in Dyn (that I know of), so this doesn’t seem to be a case of VCs returning to an entrepreneur they backed previously.
Reached by e-mail about the deal, Hitchcock says, “I wanted to de-risk and challenge myself with outside guidance. I love the idea, the concept, the market, and everything about Minim, but adding in others’ capital makes you accountable in a way that safeguards your own money and time. Plus, they make you think bigger, all the time.”
Minim’s core technology involves “fingerprinting” connected devices (using machine learning) and developing behavioral models of communications. Presumably that approach would help detect security threats and fix vulnerabilities in more effective ways than the status quo, but that remains to be proven.
“The key premise is that the home or office network must have a Minim-enabled wireless access point (router),” Hitchcock writes. “We have a lightweight [software] agent that gets installed on the router so that we can observe network flows and sync with our cloud. With this, we can fingerprint devices, adopt per device policies that virtually patch, isolate traffic, etc. We’re bringing enterprise-grade networking technology to the home and small office, but we’re making it simple.”
The company offers a “care portal” for Internet service providers that Hitchcock says gives them “an unprecedented, accurate view of connected devices and their behavior in homes—so they can troubleshoot better and reduce on-site support.” He adds that “there are big incentives” for service providers, telecom companies, and IT services providers.
Minim also has a mobile app that lets people “do their own self-care in homes and offices, perhaps even preventing the service call,” Hitchcock says. “Manage your devices, get usage insights, check out your signal strength, manage parental controls,” and so on.
Hitchcock’s co-founders at Minim are Brian Kline (formerly of Time Warner Cable) and Nicole Hayward (previously at Antidote and OnSIP). The startup currently has 12 full-time employees—most are in Manchester, but a few are in the New York City area, Utah, and Austin, TX, Hitchcock says.
“Dyn was super concentrated in Manchester,” he says. “This time, I wanted to try building a true remote-enabled company to access talent everywhere.”
Photo of Jeremy Hitchcock by Robert C Strong II.