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Q1 Labs Co-Founder, Former CEO Launch Startup With $18.5 Million Investment

Brendan Hannigan and Sandy Bird of Sonrai Security. (Image: Submitted)

FREDERICTON – A promising cybersecurity startup, with an office in New Brunswick, announced Tuesday that it officially launched with $18.5 million in Series A funding.

Sonrai Security is co-founded by Brendan Hannigan and Sandy Bird. Bird co-founded Q1 Labs and Hannigan served as its CEO. The company was acquired in 2011 by IBM, making it one of the biggest exits in New Brunswick’s history. The two men joined IBM following its acquisition.

Bird and Hannigan founded Sonrai Security when they decided to take a break from IBM. The startup focuses on cloud data control and helps businesses and large enterprises securely house their data centres on cloud-based platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and more.

“It just created this interesting problem where some of the old-school techniques for doing security and control of that were changing,” says Bird. “As people wanted to develop code faster and go through these new DevOps practices where they were doing continuous delivery, there was a new set of controls that had to be placed around theirs to make sure everyone was in-line with their best practices. We saw a lot of examples where people were doing it wrong and that’s really where the idea came from.”

Sonrai currently has offices in New York, Texas and in Fredericton. The Fredericton office in Knowledge Park is where all the company’s engineering and customer support will be based. About 16 people currently work out of that office, with that number expected to grow with the new funding.

“Expanding out the engineering team as well as building our sales force are the key parts of this round, and continuing on our vision,” said Bird. “We had a road map that stretches out for years for the vision of this company and we’re just getting started so it’s great to have this to enable us to lead that vision.”

Polaris Partners, a U.S. investment firm, and TenEleven Ventures, a U.S. venture capital company that specializes in cybersecurity, led the round. Polaris Partners Managing Partner Dave Barrett and TenEleven Ventures Founder and Managing General Partner Alex Doll joined the board. New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) also participated in the funding.   

This is the biggest funding round NBIF had ever taken part in. Its director of investment Ray Fitzpatrick says taking part in the round “monumental” for the organization.

“We’ve been doing really good over the last five years since I’ve been at NBIF at starting new companies. We’re very good at seeding companies, getting them off the ground and helping them get some customer traction. But one thing we’ve really been lacking in New Brunswick is these larger types of financings.” he says.

“We’re starting to see that we can actually start getting some of the larger deals that we just never seen before in New Brunswick. It really helps put New Brunswick on the map. Hopefully, this has other investors looking here and realizing that it’s not disadvantage being located in New Brunswick and that the companies are being very successful.”

For Sonrai co-founder Brendan Hannigan, New Brunswick’s support is important to the company’s success.

Our ambitions for Sonrai Security is to become a very large provider of data control service for cloud infrastructures and to change how enterprises are securing their new infrastructures in this cloud,” says Hannigan. “The reason why that’s significant is we have a great team to do that, and with this announcement, we have very significant funds to do this. We intend to make a big, lasting and successful enterprise and New Brunswick will be a big and important part of it.”