Our Venture Strategy & Design offering enabled a $10.75M investment and eventual enterprise acquisition.
In 2016, Balaji Parimi partnered with UXReactor on venture design for his cybersecurity startup, CloudKnox. Over just eight weeks, UXReactor worked intensively to create an initial prototype that enabled Parimi to raise substantial seed funding in an oversubscribed round. In 2021, CloudKnox was acquired by Microsoft.
What We Did for CloudKnox
- Product and Feature Ideation
- Workflow Creation
- Wireframe Design
- Visual Design
UXReactor continued to lead product design for CloudKnox as Balaji publicly launched a groundbreaking Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) platform while raising additional funds. Even as the startup grew, UXReactor’s initial venture design stood the test of time: the system and brand remained essentially unchanged.
Microsoft Acquires CloudKnox
Within just five years, CloudKnox was acquired by Microsoft. The CloudKnox CIEM product is a testament to the power of user experience design (paired with strong engineering) to create highly-profitable innovation.
Microsoft is taking a significant step with the acquisition of CloudKnox Security, a leader in Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM). This strengthens our comprehensive approach to cloud security.
While the results speak for themselves, the full story of the CloudKnox platform demonstrates the way we work with our clients to take a concept to usable reality.
Continue reading for more detail on how our Venture Design process did that for CloudKnox.
An Opportunity to Improve Visibility and Control of Cloud Software
When Balaji Parimi decided to build his startup, he knew there was an opportunity to improve visibility and control of employee access to software on the cloud. According to Balaji, 90% of access privileges are either unneeded or unused in most companies, and employers are wide open to accidental or malicious privilege misuse. Balaji knew that software with a good user experience could solve the cybersecurity problem.
To raise investments, Balaji knew he would need to prove the concept by creating a prototype. He approached UXReactor to collaborate on the venture design.
Venture Design Intensively Tests and Proves Product Assumptions
Venture design takes a business idea from a back-of-the-napkin concept to a testable prototype. It’s rooted in a human-centered, agile, Lean UX approach and deeply research-driven.
In 2016, cybersecurity was a new domain for UXReactor — and a complex one. However, across enterprise-grade products (our specialty), there are commonalities. We leaned into our discovery process and rapidly unraveled the issues unique to cloud cybersecurity.
Too many products are designed based on limited data about what customers, users, and the market demands. When UXReactor leads venture design, we use customer data to test and prove product-market fit before our clients invest heavily in innovation.
A Six-Week Intensive, On-Site Accelerated Process
Balaji spent six weeks working intensively with the UXReactor team on venture design. To accelerate the process, Balaji was co-located with our team. Together, we rapidly ideated, created the workflows, wireframes, visual design, and prototyped Balaji’s Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM).
The experiences we designed included signup, login, sentry, configuration, user management, dashboard, audit trail, and the control center experience. These thoughtfully designed, research-based experiences added value to product engineering by making the tool easier and more desirable to use.
We also designed brand visual assets by the end of eight weeks, including a logo and style guide. Branding the CIEM was a departure from UXReactor’s usual line of work. However, we knew that the design layer would bring the experience to life for investors. Then and today, our philosophy is to do whatever it takes to achieve the outcome.
When Balaji approached venture capitalists, he showcased a tangible and branded prototype with a proven product-market fit. Investors could see that the software was not only innovative but that it was testable, minimizing the risks to their investments.
A Finished Prototype Outperforms Funding Expectations
As a result, Balaji’s seed round was oversubscribed. He had more offers than he could accept and was well-positioned to take the venture to the next level.
In 2018, Balaji publicly launched the CloudKnox platform and raised an additional $10.75M round.
Thank you, UXReactor team. You played a huge part in getting us off the ground.
The CloudKnox Platform Emerges a CIEM Leader
A few short years after approaching UXReactor with a back-of-the-napkin idea, Balaji established CloudKnox as a CIEM leader. Within five years, Microsoft acquired Balaji’s startup for an undisclosed purchase price.
In acquiring CloudKnox, Microsoft is adding to its portfolio a groundbreaking platform that is markedly different and better than alternatives.
Specifically, it’s the only multi-cloud, hybrid cloud permissions management platform that provides complete visibility into privileged access, automated remediation, and continuous monitoring.
CloudKnox enables companies to confidently manage work on the cloud (embracing the benefits of remote work) while mitigating the risk of catastrophic security breaches.
The CloudKnox system (including the brand) is the same one we helped to build initially, which is a testament to the venture design process.
From concept to an impressive exit in three years, Balaji’s achievement is a prime example of how user-centered venture design can accelerate and de-risk innovation for startup founders and internal innovators alike.