I know I’m not the only one who feels like 2021 has somehow been the longest and shortest year of my life.
In some respects, the overwhelming presence of COVID-19 and the ongoing changes it’s brought to how we live our lives has created a sense of anxiety and stress that few of us have encountered before, let alone for an extended period.
Amongst all of this, however, this year has also been exceptional.
For me, SafeStack Academy has been the antidote. In some dark, stressful, and complex times, it feels like we’re building something wonderful.
I’d like to start a new tradition this year. Sharing a year in review — a report card, if you will — of where we are, where we’ve come from, and some hopes about where we will go next.
So what did 2021 bring us? Oh, where do I begin?
Let’s start with some numbers.
We began the year just six months into SafeStack Academy. We’d only recently launched our Secure Development programme and we were still a scrappy, bootstrapped team of five, paying the bills by consulting on the side.
One year on, we’ve seen significant growth and I couldn’t be more proud of the team for these achievements.
- Our learner numbers — the people doing our programmes — have grown by 225%, from 3,459 to 7,794.
- Our customer numbers — the companies buying our programmes — have grown by 650%, from 10 to 65.
- Our subscription numbers — the subscriptions in use for our programmes, like Secure Development or Security and Privacy Awareness — have grown by 630%, from 13 to 82. These numbers are slightly different from our customer numbers because some organisations subscribe to more than one programme (which we love).
- The number of countries we serve has grown 700%, as we’ve moved from serving just one country (New Zealand) to serving seven.
- And to make all this happen, our team has grown from five people to 17.
What do these numbers mean?
- We’re reaching a wider range of learners across the world than ever before and those learners are from companies big and small.
- We’re able to provide security education to companies who haven’t been engaged in security before or have found they were too small to be supported.
What else have we achieved this year?
- After gaining a place in the competitive CyRise Accelerator programme, we completed the scheme and refined our approaches across the business, forming some amazing relationships along the way.
- We raised our first funding round of $2.3m NZD, led by Jelix Ventures and supported by Carthona Capital, K1W1, NAB Ventures, and New Zealand Growth Capital Partners’ Aspire NZ Seed Fund.
- We expanded into Australia and welcomed team members across both Australia and New Zealand. This grew our diversity to include an age range of 21 to 58; 12 women and six men; seven locations; and six ethnicities.
- We redeveloped our learning platform from the ground up so we can go faster, create amazing learner experiences, and enable companies to manage their own cyber security education programmes.
- We launched a wide range of new courses — several of which haven’t been available online before — including:
- Privacy Awareness courses designed for the New Zealand and Australian markets, in line with new privacy laws
- Secure Development courses on topics like threat modelling, security for APIs, and security for software testers. We now have the largest range of application security courses available in a single platform, covering the entire software development lifecycle.
- We held 10 community seminars and three public online events, supporting a large audience and going deep on some important topics.
- We issued nearly 1,400 verified credentials to learners who completed our Secure Development courses.
- We’re finalists in two categories for the iSANZ Awards (Best Security Company of the Year and Best New Zealand Security Service or Product) and were finalists for the Hi-Tech Inspiring Individual category of the NZ Hi-Tech Awards.
A time to celebrate but remain grounded
We keep learning as we go. Every day is a school day at SafeStack and we make mistakes and pick ourselves up again. We don’t take our successes for granted and we’re pushing hard to keep providing exceptional experiences for our global community of learners.
We have a long way to go but we’ve come so far.
Some hopes for 2022
- We have big ambitions for SafeStack Academy and next year we want to reach more teams and companies than ever before. We’re excited to support this by entering the USA market and we’ll be working hard to connect with companies doing amazing things there — especially those that aren’t so well known.
- We’ll maintain our strong focus on wellness, balance, and kindness in our team, supporting each other to stay healthy and prioritise our own mental and physical health.
- We’ll continue and expand our efforts to provide pathways into the cyber security industry, especially for people from non-traditional backgrounds.
- Oh, and of course, we’ll keep building amazing educational content that will truly engage entire teams in security — helping us all work together to keep our people, systems, and data safe.
We can’t do it without you
We’re a small team with a big dream and while we’ll work hard to make it happen, we can’t do it alone.
If you want to support us or see why so many teams have joined us in the last 12 months, here are some ideas.
- Share our message, comment on our posts, and tell your friends — little voices need all the help they can get to be heard.
- Help us find our next team members — we’re hiring and we’d love to hear from anyone who’s interested in joining our remote team and helping us take SafeStack Academy to the world.
- If you’re a managed service provider or reseller in the USA or Asia or know of a great one we should talk to, come and say hello. We’re building a top-quality partner network and we’re always looking for new friends.
- If you’ve been delaying organising cyber security training for your team, want to try a new approach, or just see what all the fuss is about, get in touch or grab a 14-day free trial. 2022 could be the year your team really embraces security.
Finally, some thank yous
To our investors, friends, and family.
To the SafeStack team and all your supporters.
To our customers and learners.
Thank you for shining your light in 2021 and helping us achieve so much. We’re continually grateful for your generosity, kindness, honesty, and support.
However you celebrate this year and wherever this finds you, I wish you all a safe and peaceful holiday period and look forward to sharing more with you next year.
Laura (SafeStack CEO and chief cat herder)