Immersive Labs was founded in 2017 by James Hadley. It has already become one of the UK's fastest-growing technology companies. Before starting the company, James Hadley worked as a researcher at HM Government Communications Headquarters. During GCHQ's summer school cyber sessions, he noticed that the courses he taught were not keeping up with the advancement of the cybersecurity world. The mechanics of teaching online security was a start, but it required more than homework and case studies since cyber threats are growing and evolving every day. He realized that the concept needed to change, so he started writing a business plan. According to Walmsley Wilkinson, Immersive Labs has guided over a hundred companies, helping to educate their cybersecurity departments; scheduling 2500 classrooms a day. These are 20 facts about Immersive Labs.
1. A penny saved
One thing that inspired James Hadley to start Immersive Labs was when he saw a student finally understand a concept. Since then, he has scaled a company that strives to help cybersecurity departments understand the complex set of tasks they must accomplish every day to keep their companies free from cyber attacks. Hadley describes himself as "driven, passionate, impatient-but also caring." These qualities have been the critical components for successfully creating and running Immersive Labs.
2. Passion and purpose
Hadley has spent his life working in the cybersecurity world and cloud technology world. Helping people understand and evolve with the industry is what drives his success. Additionally, the evolution and growth of Immersive Labs is because he can think outside the box and find creative solutions.
3. Quality over quantity
Many companies hire people based solely on qualifications. However, Immersive Labs considers future employees' ethics and principles. Much like Hadley's core values, the company seeks people who want to learn and evolve, are adaptable, and work well within the company's framework.
4. Striking gold
According to pymnts, on January 14, 2019, Immersive labs revealed Goldman Sachs led the company's 8 million dollar series funding round. James Hadley, CEO, feels this is one of the most significant milestones in his career. Immersive Labs will use this capital to expand its "gamified learning" approach to cybersecurity and expand its platform and go-to-market plans. Goldman Sachs responded saying, "The Immersive platform has helped us hone the skills of the people at the front line of our cyber defenses and identify new talent throughout the organization." Goldman Sachs remains an active contributor in subsequent funding rounds.
5. Filling a need
According to Immersive Labs careers, the company feels that cybersecurity teams are working with a skeleton crew. As more cyberattacks happen, these professionals cannot deal with the ever-evolving raids on their corporations since they are more focused on tech stacks. Additionally, any training they receive doesn't evolve with the latest information, leaving the teams struggling to catch up. The Immersive Labs platform focuses on preparedness on a platform that continually grows and expands with new information.
6. No hindsight
2020 was a momentous year for Immersive Labs. According to Business Wire, the company had a historic 350% Annual Percentage and Compound Annual Growth Rate. Using the 40 million dollar investment round, Immersive Labs went global, tripling the number of employees in their company. It also launched a Channel Program adding distribution partnerships in the United States, Latin America, and The Middle East.
7. Keep calm
One takeaway from Hadley's teaching days was that cybersecurity training teaching methods were outmoded. In 2020, the company added Immersive Cyber Crisis Simulator to its platform. This tool allows cybersecurity professionals to learn skills by participating in scenarios that mirror ones they may face in their jobs, even giving time limits to understand the importance of quick decision-making. Moreover, the methods are similar to Choose Your Adventure Novels; each decision leads to other outcomes. Students will also see the immediate effect their choices have. Once completed, there is a summary of the interaction and takeaways to help in similar real-life situations.
8. Jack of all trades
James Hadley is the sole founder of Immersive Labs, his first entrepreneurial venture. During the company's early days, he did everything himself and learned by trial and error. He educated himself on how to market the product, even packing and selling it to customers.
9. Integration is key
In 2019, Immersive Labs integrated its platform with the MITRE ATT&CK framework, allowing them to assist its customers better. Many of the company's clients were already using the MITRE ATT&CK for a generalized view of maneuvers by cyber attackers. Yet, they could not see real-time reports or updated tactics hackers were using, leaving them vulnerable to more threats. Immersive Lab's platform allowed them to track and monitor the company's security team's skills and forecast and plan a strategy to combat future attacks.
10. People problem
Groups orchestrate attempts to damage a computer's network security. In much the same way, qualified individuals are needed to combat these growing challenges. One essential piece of Immersive Lab's platform is real-time monitoring for managers, allowing them to continually evaluate the skills of their team and access strengths and weaknesses.
11. It's not cloudy
According to Digital Shadows, on January 17, 2019, Digital Shadows collaborated with Immersive Labs to create Immersive Intelligence. Together, the companies found a streamlined way for teams to master many of the most imminent cybersecurity threats, adding to the platform's real-time learning solution. The two companies both recognized the gap in learning these skills. There is detachment from security team skills, the latest threats, and ongoing learning. Moreover, the platform identifies what skills are lacking and how to fix them.
12. Driving force
The rise in cyber-attacks is creating an industry shortage. Moreover, those working in the industry are underskilled. This lack is making a demand for Immersive Labs. This platform assists with this crisis in many different ways. Cyber Security staff can acquire a broader range of skills, reducing the need for more staff since the existing team will have a more comprehensive knowledge base and combat the growing and evolving number of security threats more effectively.
13. In the news
According to an article written by James Hadley, businesses are the last to understand that cybersecurity skills are not only necessary for the security teams in their companies. He cites the colonial pipeline as an example. PR, legal regulatory, and senior strategy makers spoke to the public and decided to shut the pipeline down. Since the entire company was responsible for the shutdown, it may have been prevented if it was responsible for keeping the business safe from cyber-attacks. Hadley closed the article by adding this isn't the only example; it's just the most recent and high profile.
14. Customer commendations
According to Tech.eu, Venky Ganesan, a cybersecurity investor at Meno Venlo Ventures, praised the company. He cited the extreme rising in the cybersecurity sector. He commented that the solution that Immersive Labs is providing is much needed and will undoubtedly change the face of the industry since the threats are rising. Enterprises need a solution that helps keep their professionals knowledgeable about the latest threats.
15. Driver's seat
James Hadley is a highly motivated CEO, evidenced by Immersive Labs' astronomical three-year growth. Even though he believes in doing things quickly, he also understands people need to be thorough, and managers need to exhibit compassion and empathy when working with them. Much of Immersive Labs' concept is built on this philosophy. His product is designed for professionals to dive into the world of cybersecurity threats instead of relying blindly on static knowledge, mirroring his philosophy. Despite utilizing his teaching background to assist people, he also faces a problem and expects people to do the same.
16. Research, research, research
Immersive Labs is the product of years of industry experience, and its CEO thinks everyone should practice the same discipline. James Hadley feels that consistent use of the internet is one way to keep building skills necessary for our technology-driven environment. He advised people not to worry about certifications. They are only a portion of knowledge because many of them only test a base level that does not accurately appraise overall skill. Although these are important, a better way to learn is to read industry blogs and sights continually. Additionally, daily skills like sending emails and uploading files are important ways to improve on skills.
17. Past doesn't define the future
One of Hadley's deepest confessions is that he was not the best student. However, he forged his path and took a two-year course in computer studies, which led to his job with GCHQ, a cyber and intelligence agency in the United Kingdom. This decision led him to found Immersive Labs. Like other comments he's made, standardized learning is not always a defining marker for skills and abilities. Many people retain more knowledge when they actively engage with the information. His platform is based on this and helps current. Future employees expand their skills not by filling in the blanks but by participating in dynamic learning models that create a better understanding of cybersecurity threats.
Immersive Labs believes in encouraging diversity. Cybersecurity is a male-dominated profession. Hadley feels that there is a lot of work that we can do to change this dynamic ad he is actively working to change it. His company helps sponsor and train the Ladies of London Hacking Society. The organization is a nonprofit that empowers technology-savvy women to begin careers in cybersecurity. Only 20% of women make up the cybersecurity workforce, and they feel that as fast as the industry is growing and expanding, diversity needs to be part of that expansion.
19. Uncover talent
Although Immersive Labs' primary focus is to help companies combat cyber attacks, Hadley also hopes his product will help companies find more individuals in their corporation who possess the skills and talents to assist in this ever-growing problem. Its platform is a teaching tool that helps people start with the basics and move into more challenging concepts. Additionally, it creates confidence by allowing its learner to use the same tools they will use in day-to-day operations.
20. More funding
According to Tech Crunch, on June 13th, 2021, Immersive Labs closed its Series C funding round at 75 million dollars. Insight Partners led this round alongside Menlo Ventures and Citi Ventures. Goldman Sachs Asset management was another key player. This funding round will be used to enhance company operations in the United States. Immersive Labs has also noticed a growing number of cybersecurity threats since the start of the pandemic, most likely because more people are working from home. The company wants to use a portion of this capital to expand the platform for remote workers.
Although cyber attacks date back to the early days of the internet, they have become increasingly worse and more malicious. They are becoming hazards to many industries as well as impacting our day-to-day life. When James Hadley started this company, he noticed many practices for educating professionals were much the same as in the early days. They didn't take into account the new types of threats that are happening daily. Immersive Labs continually lives up to its name, allowing users to take the knowledge they have and evolving it to help corporations stay safer and preventing consumers from experiencing breaks in their daily lives because company websites are under cyber attack. Security remains one of the most crucial needs for internet users, and most companies need a website to grow their businesses. Companies like Immersive Labs professionals will not have the resources they need to work in the industry successfully. Worse still, the growing trend of crisis in the cybersecurity industry will grow worse, with threats becoming more damaging because people aren't available to fix them.
Written by Dominique Scappucci
Read more posts by Dominique Scappucci