You’re working on a world-class cyber security solution. To succeed, you’ll need more than technology.

Let’s see how far we can go together.


The Deal?

We’re a venture accelerator focused squarely on early stage cyber security startups.

We’re looking for founders from anywhere in the Asia-Pacific region to join us in Melbourne for a six-month, mentor-driven program. We’ll give you $50,000 as part of a capped SAFE note, then do everything we possibly can to make you successful.


Fast-track your future

In our six-month, mentor-driven accelerator program, you’ll get all you need to successfully take your idea to a global market.


Grow your expectations

Your peers in this program are the region’s finest. They’re an important part of the experience, so we ensure you work with the very best.


Be mentored by the best

Receive intensive mentoring on everything from scaling tech teams to growth marketing, from Australia’s leading innovators, technologists and venture capitalists.


Reach customers early

Connect directly with early enterprise customers through our Corporate Partner Network. Want to talk to a specific CISO? We’ll open the door for you.


Deepen your R&D

Work with field-leading researchers from Deakin University, whose tech and discipline-specific expertise will help tap your true potential.


Enjoy full partner support

Access all the support you need. Our partners offer the full extent of their combined resources to every program participant.


Take it to the world

Embark on a structured trip to Israel for a broader perspective on the cyber security landscape, and finish up in the USA, the heartland of security innovation and fast-growth startups.

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"The great thing about CyRise and its cyber security startups is that it is bringing in knowledge of what the future horizons are, not just today’s state of technology, from people who think differently”

Debra Bordignon

CTO, Dimension Data

"We're big believers in the mission CyRise have set out to achieve. Cyber security is a huge priority for Australia and we already have great momentum and many of the right building blocks to build a vibrant cyber security ecosystem"

James Cameron

Partner, Airtree Ventures

"Australia needs innovation in cybersecurity. If you want to turn your best security idea into a product, CyRise provides the perfect vehicle to learn entrepreneurial skills and transform an idea into a business"

Vaughan Shanks

Founder and CEO, CYDARM

Meet The Mentors

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Tony Smales

Tony Smales is the driving force behind Forticode. Tony created Forticode when he recognized the world was becoming more connected, more technology dependent and thoroughly compromised. He has an honours degree in computer science, specializing in Artificial Intelligence.

Michelle Price

Michelle, who’s CEO of the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network, has a wealth of public sector security experience. With the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet she held Senior Adviser roles in National Security Policy and Planning and Domestic Cyber Policy, before becoming Senior Adviser, Cyber Security at ANU’s National Security College.

Jeff Paine

Jeff’s the Cofounder and Managing Director of ResponSight, which is rethinking how security breaches are detected in the enterprise with the help of behavioural analytics. He recently raised over $1 million to grow ResponSight into a global company. Jeff’s long history of Founder and Advisor roles developed his passion for leadership — and for cyber security.

Casey Ellis

Casey is the Cofounder, Chairman and CTO at security services marketplace Bugcrowd, having been working in the cyber security space since 2001. He’s founded and worked as Director and CSO at a number of enterprise and security-focused businesses while simultaneously mentoring others through Pushstart, the Tall Poppy Group — and now CyRise.

Sal Unwin

Sal Unwin is a highly respected senior executive with over 30 years’ cross-sector experience. She is a thought leader in the cybersecurity sector and is skilled at delivering customer focused solutions. In 2015 Sal joined Triskele Labs as General Manager of Sales and Marketing to build strong recurring revenue streams. Today, Triskele Labs has 23 staff and is growing across Australia, with significant future income.

Nick Crocker

Having founded and run Sessions (sold to MyFitnessPal), Nick's passion for getting new projects up and running drew him to investment. Today he's a Partner at BlackBird Ventures and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Startmate.

Peter Huynh

Before co-founding Qualgro, which has raised funds of more than $50 million and made 14 investments, Peter cofounded and was Director at both Optus Innov8 and Singtel Group Digital Life. Today, Qualgro focuses its investments in health, education, communication, cyber security and financial technology — sectors Peter and his partners see as critical to the growth of the Asia Pacific region.

Ran Lewinski

Ran Lewinski is Vice President of Sales APAC at Checkmarx, a global leader in application security solutions. With close to 20 years of enterprise sales and marketing experience in the global tech industry, Ran has a deep understanding of Application Security, Mobile Applications, Cloud and SaaS markets.

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Gus Balbontin

Former CTO of Lonely Planet, Gus has since held advisory Board roles for initiatives like travel-data analysis service Volantino, and pre-paid data roaming provider DataGO. Today he’s Director of management consultancy The Roshambo Group, helping businesses grow and innovate, and co-founder of Sneaky Surf, an app that helps surfers surf more.

Alex Holmes

Alex is currently CMO at Influx where he developed the brand and global go-to-market strategy. He previously built a marketing team at Envato and founded Y Audience, the first transparent audience targeting platform for advertisers.

Pete Cameron

Pete is CEO of Avalanche Technology Group and a Venture Partner at Giant Leap Fund, Australia's first VC fund dedicated to investing into “impact businesses”. He is an active angel investor with over 15 investments in early stage businesses and venture funds. Pete previously founded, owned and was CEO of the APAC business for AVG Technologies, which he exited in 2012.

Debra Bordignon

CTO of Dimension Data Group Australia, Debra leads the strategy for the group regarding future technologies, offerings and partnerships. Debra was previously at Hewlett Packard, where she was Chief Technologist, Innovation Leader for the APJ office of the CTO, and Leader – Innovation and Industry Initiatives for HP’s Enterprise Services division.

Didier Elzinga

CEO/CO-Founder of Culture AMP, Didier has now raised over $30 million, grown Culture Amp to 125+ people in 4 offices and already boasts over 1000 customers globally. He’s also a non-executive Director of the Atlassian Foundation, and on the board of Rising Sun Research.

Craig Mcdonald

Craig’s been CEO of MailGuard, the world’s largest privately owned cloud email and web security provider, since 2001. He’s also Founder CEO at BlackEvents, the isayso and CCRM apps, and Sidearm Café.

Vaughan Shanks

Vaughan is the Founder of CYDARM, a platform that enables cybersecurity operations teams to perform at their best. Vaughan was previously a Forward Deployed Engineer at Palantir Technologies, and prior to that spent almost a decade working in the Australian Department of Defence. Vaughan holds a PhD in Computer Science, specialising in high scale machine learning.

Silvio Cesare

Dr Silvio Cesare has worked in technical roles and been involved in computer security for over 20 years. He has worked commercially in both defensive and offensive roles within engineering. He is now the Director for Education and Training at UNSW Canberra Cyber. He also the co-founder of BSides Canberra - Australia's largest cyber security conference, and is a co-founder of InfoSect - a security hackerspace in Canberra. He has a Ph.D. from Deakin University.

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Rod Cuthbert

Back in 1995, Rod founded online sightseeing and tour research and booking service Viator. The business was sold to TripAdvisor for $200 million in 2014, after Rod had worked there as Chairman and CEO for 15 years. Today he’s Executive Chairman of Rome2rio — another startup combining technology and travel in unique ways.

Rachael Falk

Rachael is the Chief Executive Officer of the Cyber Security Research Centre Limited (Cyber CRC). The Cyber CRC is a not-for-profit company that will deliver innovative research and solutions with an Australia-wide approach in response to the ever changing cyber threat landscape. Rachael has held several senior roles in cyber security both at Telstra and in other industries. Prior to making the move into cyber security, Rachael practiced as a lawyer for fifteen years.

Doug English

Doug’s founding role in Culture AMP in 2010 wasn’t his first. He’d already founded startup Jodoro in 2009 after a career that included technology roles with the National Australia Bank and EDS. Today, he’s VP of Engineering with Culture AMP, overseeing an ever-growing team of talented engineers.

Mick Liubinskas

Over the last 18 years Mick has co-founded 12 tech startups, as well as cofounding Pollenizer with Phil Morle and being co-founding investor of Startmate. His greatest successes have been travel-service provider Flightfox, where he was an investor and advisor; Pollenizer, where he was Cofounder and CEO, and which he grew to $3m in revenue; and Spreets, where he was an investor and advisor, and which sold to Yahoo for ~$40m in 13 months.

Terrie Anderson

Terrie Anderson is the Regional Director for Asia Pacific Region for Venafi, the Machine Identity Protection company. Terrie has over 20 years of experience in the cyber security industry and is considered a trusted adviser to many CIO's, board members and digital leaders. Prior to joining Venafi, she has held senior commercial positions at Cyber Sec vendors Entrust, Symantec, and RSA Security.

Alfred Lo

Alfred is the Investor-in-Residence at Australia’s leading deep technology incubator Cicada Innovations. Formerly Head of AMP New Ventures, AMP’s local and international corporate venture capital program, he also co-founded and led Singtel Innov8’s investment activities through Optus-Innov8 in Australia. If you think he looks familiar, that’s probably because Alfred was named one of Australia’s Top 50 startup influencers by Startup Daily.

Adrian Stone

Three-time CEO Adrian cofounded and lead AngelCube, Australia’s first venture accelerator, which made investments in 31 local startups. Today he’s Founding Chairman of Investors’ Organisation, Australia’s leading forum for investors focused on tech startups.

Vijay Chakravarthy

Vijay’s a National Security Architect at Dimension Data — the latest in a long line of security-focused architect and engineering roles that have seen him work across research, risk, and solutions design for businesses including Datacraft (now Dimension Data) and CA technologies. In his current role, Vijay has been responsible for transformational projects that move clients to the next level of security — often by successfully integrating the services of innovative vendors.


James Cameron

Fresh from a four-year stint as Vice President of Accel Partners in London, James is a Partner at AirTree Ventures, which has raised more than $306 million to find growth and scale-up-stage software companies. His focus is on enterprise software and cybersecurity, and before joining Airtree he covered Israel for Accel and worked with several of their cybersecurity investments including Forgerock, Aorato, Demisto and Crowdstrike. James is also the founder of Bipsync - a West Coast based and venture backed fintech startup.

Nick Ellsmore

Nick is Co-Founder of Hivint and cybersecurity collaboration portal Security Colony, as well as an Advisor to Bugcrowd. Previously Nick was co-founder of cyber-security firms SIFT and Stratsec, sold to BAE Systems in 2010, followed by a stint as a corporate adviser focused on the cybersecurity industry. He has served on boards and forums including the Internet Industry Association, the NATA AAC for Software Testing, UNSW Advisory Boards, and the APEC TEL Security & Prosperity Steering Group.

Craig Searle

Craig is the Chief Apiarist and Co-Founder of Hivint and cybersecurity collaboration portal Security Colony. Prior to this, Craig ran the cybersecurity division in APAC for BAE Systems Applied Intelligence and was the Chief Operating Officer for Stratsec. A self-professed “security nerd” Craig has presented at tech-focussed security conferences in the US, Asia and Australia, and has been a member of a number of benchmark development teams for the Centre for Internet Security (CIS).

Ulric Ferner

Ulric is on the investment team at Right Click Capital, a VC fund that invests in technology businesses with global ambitions. He has deep product expertise in cybersecurity and algorithms, and has done product development at a number of startups. He did his Ph.D. in Computer Science at MIT in Boston and is an alumni of BCG. For kicks, he has a few patents and loves coming up with creative tests for product/market fit.

Damien Manuel

Damien is the Director of Deakin's Centre for Cyber Security Research & Innovation (CSRI) and is the Chair of the Australian Information Security Association (AISA). With more than 20 years of experience in senior roles at Symantec, NAB, RSA, Telstra and Melbourne IT, he specialises in cyber security, business governance, compliance and risk management.

Daniel Potts

Dr. Daniel Potts is a security professional and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the design, implementation, and delivery of embedded and secure systems. Daniel has held technical and executive positions at commercial, startups, and major defence organizations including National ICT Australia, Open Kernel Labs, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. Daniel received his Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales through research into improving the performance of Distributed Systems. Daniel is currently CEO at Cog Systems where they seek to build and enable the world’s most secure mobile and IoT devices.

Omaru Maruatona

Dr. Omaru Maruatona is the CEO of Aiculus, a cyber security company he founded through the CyRise program in 2017. Aiculus is a global Cyber-AI company that specialises in digital defence and business optimisation solutions. One of Aiculus' key products is an API security and visibility solution. This is a specific API Risk management solution that provides real-time API threat defence and in-depth visibility on an organisation's external APIs. Leveraging Machine Learning and advanced Behavourial Analytics, the API security solution provides organisations with real-time defence capability against API abuse and API related fraud.

Hamish Hawthorn

Hamish Hawthorn is UpGuard’s Chief Operating Officer, driving operations and corporate development activities, and overseeing partnerships with the cyber insurance sector. Hamish has been involved in the commercialisation of new technologies for over twenty 20 years, and his experience spans the software, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing sectors. UpGuard is the world’s first cyber resilience platform, designed to proactively assess cyber risk for every organization. UpGuard monitors the digital footprints of millions of organizations, automates assessment questionnaires, and synthesizes those factors into the most accurate cyber risk score.


Guy Givoni

Guy has worked with and for Israeli startups for the past 20 years, gaining vast experience in strategy, go-to market planning & execution and building international sales organisations. Over the last 8 years he has bootstrapped AlgoSec APAC (cyber management) from scratch to $20M and is now the APAC Managing Director. Guy combines his passions for science and technology while helping entrepreneurs grow and build their businesses. He is an Advisory Board Member of Mobilicom - a mission-critical mobile communication startup that is listed on the ASX.

Archie Reed

Start-up advisor, investor and mentor since 2000. Was the Global Director & Chief Technologist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, as well as led the strategy and development of HP's Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) platform and the generation of horizontal and vertical solutions on that platform. Distinguished Technologist & Chief Technologist-Cloud Security for HP from 2007 - 2013

Eddie Sheehy

Eddie is a tech entrepreneur, investor and non-executive director with a significant interest in early stage technology companies. From 2006 - 2017 he was co-founder and CEO of Nuix, taking the Australian tech start-up from an R&D venture with two developers to build a profitable $100M+ global business. Eddie is passionate about ensuring founders retain control of their business as it grows.

Leslie Barry

Leslie was Founding Partner of GetViable, an online innovation platform acquired in 2014 by Big Colours in Hong Kong, and since then his focus has remained squarely on the innovation space. He’s worked as Head of Innovation with both ThoughtWorks and Sportsbet, and advised and mentored in numerous startup accelerators in the Asia Pacific region.

Rose Powell

Rose Powell is the head of growth for Rampersand VC fund, which has a broad remit and a particular focus on cybersecurity startups since 2017. Rampersand investments include Cog Systems, Assembly Payments and Expert360. Prior to joining the fund Rose worked at Canva as a comms and growth exec, and a journalist for the Financial Review, The Age and The SMH.

Michael Cameron

Cofounder and CEO of unique travel-focused startup Rome2rio, Michael was previously a Senior Software Development Lead with Microsoft and a cross-departmental Research Associate at Monash University. He earned his PhD on genomic search algorithms at RMIT.

Mark Sayer

Mark is the APAC Cyber Defense Lead for Accenture. He has 20+ years’ information security experience in the design, implementation and operation of enterprise-level security systems for some of the world’s leading organisations. His specialist areas of expertise are identity and access Management ; cyber defence & operations ; digital and cloud technologies and operating models ; and threat and risk management.

Jesse Scott

Jesse is a Cyber Security technologist and entrepreneur. His career ranges from scientific and engineering R&D for NATO, to joining and helping incubate two unicorn start-ups (CrowdStrike and LightSpeed). Jesse is currently working for Barclays Ventures as Director of Cyber Innovation seeking to build new cyber-based business lines, partner & joint-venture with industry, and invest in the top cyber start-ups across the globe.

Frequently Asked Questions

As well as giving you $50,000 at the start of the program we'll also fund your trip to Israel. One founder from each successful team will join us in Israel for 7-10 days as part of a structured events program. If your co-founder wants to come as well we would love that, but your startup would need to cover that cost (around $5k).

At the end of the program, we will lead a trip to the US so you can make connections with investors, founders and customers. You will need to cover your own costs and you should expect it to be far less structured than the Israeli component. The US trip is more about helping you with acquisition, so be prepared to hustle.

Applications are now closed for the 2018/2019 cohort. We will announce dates for 2019 early next year.

You get $50,000 if you are successful in being selected. There are no strings tied to that money and it will not be tranched.

The funding is given as part of a capped SAFE note. You can read more about SAFE notes here. A SAFE note is generally considered to be lightweight and founder friendly.

CyRise aims to help boost diversity and inclusivity in the cyber security field. So we want to do everything we can to help you be successful. If you identify as coming from a group that's been underrepresented in technology, please contact us.

As a first step, we invite you to book a 30 minute meeting with our CEO Scott Handsaker who can help with your application. We will then connect you with mentors and others in our network who will do everything they can to maximise your chances of being selected for the program.

It’s hard to describe everything about the program on a website, so we always encourage people who are interested to talk to us first. Book a 30 minute meeting with our CEO Scott Handsaker and talk it through with us. Meetings can be conducted by whatever means of communication you feel comfortable with.

Great founders come in all shapes and sizes, so we try not to have too many preconceived ideas of what you will be like. We do admit to having a preference for teams with at least two founders, however it is not a hard and fast rule. If you are an amazing single founder with a great security startup, we would love to hear from you.

The only unbreakable rule is that all teams must have technical skills. Your founding team must be able to build their own technology, as we don’t believe that outsourcing your product is the path to success.

Yes! In fact we are keen to attract teams from all over the Asia-Pacific region. You will have to commit to being in Melbourne for the duration of the program.