Anvilogic Founders' Story: Q&A with Karthik and Deb

Anvilogic Founders' Story: Q&A with Karthik and Deb

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Anvilogic’s co-founders discuss their journey, from early days to a $45M Series C.

Building a startup is a lot like running a marathon. 

Both are winding, grueling journeys that require perseverance, determination, and a support system that drives you forward.

Karthik Kannan and Deb Banerjee are no strangers to slogging through 26.2 miles; the pair ran 10 (yes, ten!) marathons together. Perhaps that’s why these two co-founders have helped grow Anvilogic into a leading cybersecurity startup.

Last week, we announced that Anvilogic secured $45 million in Series C funding. We owe special thanks to our investors: Evolution Equity, Foundation Capital, Cervin Ventures, Myriad Ventures, Point72 Ventures, Outpost Ventures, Stepstone Group, and G Squared — and a host of advisors who’ve helped us along the way.

Karthik and Deb started Anvilogic in 2019, with a vision to build an AI-based SOC platform to lower the barrier to entry for detection engineering and threat-hunting skill sets desperately needed in cybersecurity. 

Along the way, Anvilogic has helped companies break through the security information and event management (SIEM) lock-in that drives detection gaps and high costs for enterprise SOCs. The market has responded, as we’ve quadrupled our growth since our Series B in 2022

But just like with marathon running, every startup's success is accompanied by a host of trials, tribulations, and stories.

We sat down with Karthik and Deb for a quick Q&A to dive deeper into Anvilogic’s journey:

How did you come together as founders and decide to start this company?

Karthik Kannan, CEO and Founder:

I've wanted to work together with Deb for a long time. We met a number of times while I was at previous companies, and the timing and the role were just never right.

When I started Anvilogic I knew it was the perfect opportunity to make sure that we ended up working together. So I approached Deb. We had breakfast a number of times. (I paid, by the way, for all of those breakfasts, Deb! But what’s an oatmeal between friends?)

I was scribbling down a bunch of things, just to see if my ideas would pass the smell test. And the first couple of times, they clearly didn't. 

But I got Deb interested. That was the key thing; I got him interested to the point that  I persuaded him to leave a lucrative job to come and join me here. So that's kind of how we kicked it off.

Deb Banerjee, CTO and Co-Founder:

There were a few elements that went into my decision. I’d seen the ideas for the technology and the product, but I also knew that there’d be zig-zags in the journey of building this company.

It’s important to have this level of trust and enjoy working with somebody. If that doesn't work, then every difficulty becomes exacerbated. So there was that element that we knew and trusted each other. And one of the things that we had done before was run those 10 marathons together. There was a “no BS” element to all of this and a level of trust and a level of understanding between us.

Were you driven by a specific problem that needed solving, or was there a particular inspiration behind the founding of Anvilogic?


Right from the beginning, we were sure that one of the core paradigms we would shatter was the monolithic structure of how this whole SOC — and the bottleneck behind a SOC, which is a SIEM — was architected. We have scribblings and whiteboard drawings that we still haven't erased to prove it!

We had a vision to break that monolith apart and say, look, “There is the content piece to it. There is the automation piece to it. And there is the data repository piece to it. Not all of them have to be in one proprietary stack.”

The world had come to agree with and go along with that monolithic stack for the longest time. So the first thing we knew we wanted to shatter was that structure and say, “there are different parts to it, and we are gonna make that possible.”


We’d both been in cybersecurity for a long time; we’d seen the transitions in technology, product and markets. We felt that there were some technology transitions happening — particularly in cloud data warehouses and the business analytics world — that were opportune. So we figured that there is something there —  that by playing in these transitions and exploiting them and leveraging them, product magic can happen.

How has your career journey informed how you’ve built Anvilogic?


Prior to founding Anvilogic, I’d lived in the startup world – particularly around big data and analytics and cybersecurity – for about 15 years. I'd been in companies that have directly become either analytics platforms or cybersecurity and compliance platforms. So going back prior to Anvilogic, it was Caspida, which was also in the cybersecurity space (acquired by Splunk). Prior to that, a smaller company called Cetas, which was acquired by VMware, which was just an analytics platform sitting on top of big data structures like Hadoop. I knew that was the kind of environment I would thrive in.


My background is mostly around engineering complex and scalable systems. Early on, I worked in computational fluid dynamics (simulating air flows on airplane wings) then transitioned to engineering business systems.

When I joined Symantec, I saw how they rode the cybersecurity boom and the things they did right. I also saw things they missed on, in terms of the product and market transitions: particularly how Crowdstrike came in and gently was able to take market share away. 

That was a great lesson for me about transitions and leadership changes in cybersecurity. And that got me thinking about opportunities to exploit these transitions in technology, product, and market; I’d love to be in the middle of that and go build something. That was the moment in 2019 when those ingredients all came together.

How do you complement each other as co-founders?


Everybody needs a complementary structure. My strengths fall on the business, market, and vision side — on the people side. I knew that I needed a complement on the technology side to do the things that I wanted to do. I knew right from the beginning that Deb brought to the table an element of reality, an element of what is possible, and what should be done.


We call that alignment. There is a constructive sort of progress forward. There is tension — but it’s always positive tension. There is trust in that both of us are trying to do the right thing. And that takes time; it doesn't happen automatically.

What types of qualities have you looked for in your early hires?


In the past, we'd made the classic mistake of only hiring smart developers and technologists, but not enough practitioners to help guide us along the way. So this time around, the first thing I wanted to do was have strong practitioners on the team who could help develop the product and design it with us.


In European soccer, some decades back, a new style of soccer called “total football” emerged. In total football, defenders can go up and score goals, attacking players can fall back on defense, and goalkeepers can charge ahead. It’s the notion that the same person can play multiple roles.

We practice a form of what I would call “total football” here. Of course, everybody has a role that they operate in on the day-to-day. But they're also operating outside of it, which is fantastic.
We have engineers who can act as a practitioner in a customer call. We have product folks who can describe architecture, and also can deploy the product. Engineers who can jump into sales calls at the drop of a hat. I haven’t seen this anywhere else!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from building Anvilogic?


I’d always been surrounded by – and gravitated towards — engineers. In this high-tech world, it feels like developers are everything. And over time, data scientists become part of the mix.

But my previous experience led me to clarity: when the product met the real world, the requirements seemed awfully different. The biggest learning was, yes, we need developers, yes we need data scientists— but we cannot pull it off without practitioners working alongside us. And they aren’t just deployed in the field. These are practitioners who are helping define the product requirements: even owning the product requirements and co-designing it with the engineering team.


One of the main observations was that in cybersecurity, we are not operating in a static landscape. The bad guys and the use cases are constantly shifting on you. 

So for any cybersecurity product, it’s super important to have flexibility so you can rapidly adjust to market needs. This flexibility is one of the things we focused heavily on, product-wise. We built a powerful product that has great flexibility — that can be implemented for many different use cases with great rapidity. In cybersecurity, that is a strength.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your growth?


We chose a very hard problem to solve.  We knew that going in. So we were under no illusion that this was gonna be easy.

The hard part is to find a way to coexist with the current mindsets and architectures so you can blend in. You don’t want to go rip-and-replace, guns blazing. We had to choose a path where we would augment existing legacy products that we knew we were gonna replace in a few years. Walking into that environment, getting sticky, and becoming a part of their core architecture before you replace them was a conscious decision.


We have thought long and hard about these changes and transitions in technology, product structure, and market dynamics. But there are large parts of the cybersecurity world that aren’t as familiar with these transitions and the opportunities they might provide.

Building a product is difficult, but selling a product is even more difficult. We're operating in this world of transitions where people have to be educated. That’s something we’ll keep working on.

Which accomplishments or milestones stick out in your mind?


One of the more important things that we've delivered in the last two years has been a multi-data platform SIEM architecture. We proved that it could be impactful in the real world from a cost savings and efficiency standpoint. 

We’ve also expanded our AI investments from the traditional predictive AI – which powered us for the first few years — but also latched on very early to the benefits of generative AI, and built out a whole co-pilot experience combining the two. Those are remarkable achievements.


The one thing practitioners always say about our product: “Deb, this product actually works!”
In cybersecurity, that’s high praise. We are very grounded. Everything we’ve built actually works in customer environments. One measure of that is how passionate our customers are, in terms of talking about our product.

We haven't done anything that exaggerates. We have not sold a story that we can't follow up. In cybersecurity, that’s not common.

Do you have any favorite memories from your road to Series C?


How well we always seem to perform in customer meetings leaves me with a sense of pride, as well as excitement. We almost always have only good customer meetings. That we've never had, in my experience, a bad customer meeting — that to me is a remarkable thing.


One of my measures for work is this: on a day-to-day basis, when you wake up in the morning: do you smile when you think about work? I wake up and I smile. 
That sort of keeps it going here. Highlights are important, but for me, the day-to-day matters more. Generally, I'll wake up with a smile thinking about work, and not with a frown. That, to me, is huge.

What excites you about the future of Anvilogic?

Karthik Kannan, CEO and Founder

My only goal is to grow the company. But within that goal is a variety of deliverables. 
Growth comes in the form of new customers; new customers give you new credibility, new learnings, and a better product. Growth comes in the form of revenue, which lends us the power to go, spend, and do explorations and double down and build more. Growth comes in the form of product where we push the boundaries of what product does today and expand.

There's a lot of growth coming over the next 18 to 24 months. The key is to use this money to power that growth – and be careful and conservative in where we spend it.

Deb Banerjee, CTO and Co-Founder

The enemy today for cybersecurity is complexity: complex environments, complex threat landscapes, and complex security event data. How many analysts can muster that level of complexity across so many dimensions?

I expect in the next 12 to 18 months, Anvilogic will lead the charge in terms of a co-pilot-enabled interface: a conversational textual English language interface for analysts to come in and just be able to have a conversation with the smart co-pilot. That, to me, will be magical. We have all the technical pieces in place. I think that will be the next magical step in our journey.

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