Field Effect has ambitious plans to become the best cybersecurity company in the world, with a mission of making powerful security accessible to giants and startups alike. And, having nearly tripled its number of employees in the past 18 months — half of that in a global pandemic — its principals think it’s well on its way.
Founder, CEO and CTO Matt Holland started his career at the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) in Ottawa in 1999 and co-founded Linchpin Labs in 2007. In 2016, he founded Field Effect. And after a successful exit from Linchpin, he joined Field Effect full-time at its main office in the Lansdowne area of Ottawa. Since then, the company has established an office in the U.K. and has imminent plans to open in Australia and the U.S.
The reason for its speedy success? Its technology, of course. Field Effect has developed a sophisticated cybersecurity solution, priced for businesses of all sizes. Commonly cybersecurity solutions are made of a “stack” of different solutions that can leave gaps for cyber threats to get in, but Field Effect’s solution protects across the board. Instead of scanning for existing breaches, its Covalence product proactively prevents them from getting through. Its ARO (actions, recommendations and observations) alert system helps deter user alert fatigue as the alerts are used sparingly and tell users exactly what action to take.
A second product — Cyber Range — a cybersecurity training platform is a simulation environment that allows users to create incidents and solve them.
Field Effect was able to double its employee roster during COVID in large part thanks to Ottawa’s talent pool, both in the technology field and also in support positions, such as marketing.
“Ottawa has top talent,” says Andrew Milne, Field Effect’s chief revenue officer. “Within Ottawa there is a large pool of intelligence industry professionals and also top sales, marketing and creative experts.”
Like Holland, many of Field Effect’s engineers are former intelligence professionals who found themselves in Ottawa because of CSE or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Recently, the company also significantly grew its marketing, sales and support teams.
While COVID has been an uncertain time for many workers across the country, Holland was quick to reassure his team that their jobs were safe and the company was full steam ahead.
“That ignited a spark in our team that was passionate, caring and also focused on growth in a really uncertain time,” Milne says.
The company has two large locations in the enviable Glebe neighbourhood in downtown Ottawa. Its offices are immersed in the community, creating a good work life for employees — complete with craft beer on tap, an in-house single-malt Scotch bar and a corporate box in the neighbouring stadium — in a city that is known for its quality of life.
“People want to live here,” Milne says of attracting talent from outside the city. “It’s a good lifestyle. We have competitive work, an amazing product and huge goals.”
The goal of becoming the biggest cybersecurity company in the world is well known among staff.
“We want to make cybersecurity cost-effective, approachable and easy to manage for businesses of all sizes,” Milne explains. “What Shopify has done for e-commerce, we want to do for cybersecurity. The respect that Canadians have for the type of work we’ve done is pretty impressive. We’re well on our way to getting there and for us, Ottawa is an advantage from a talent point of view and an international tactics point of view.”
Field Effect at a glance
Years in business: Four
Foreign markets: U.K., Europe, U.S., Australia
Main product/service: Cybersecurity