Interview with Ian Stevenson of Cyan Forensics

PUBLISHED ON 8 October 2019

We recently interviewed Ian Stevenson from Cyan Forensics to find out how he found his participation in EIE, read on to find out what he had to say!

In a few sentences, what is your service and/or product offering?

Cyan Forensics builds and sells new technologies to help law enforcement, social media companies, and cloud providers to find and block harmful content from paedophiles and terrorists.

Could you expand on what parts of the EIE acceleration programme were the most useful for you? How did the training help you improve the prospects for your company?

We participated in EIE in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and Graham Little from our company presented in 2019! I spoke the first two years, and the intensive coaching on pitching was hugely important and something I have continued to use regularly. The sessions on stage skills were also invaluable, and again, there are tips picked up there I still use every time I present. The last two years my Business Development Lead has pitched for us – and has similarly benefitted, learning skills that help him present to customers at events in the UK, Europe and further afield.

What contacts did you make due to your EIE participation? Were you contacted after the event by investors for example? If so can you detail how these conversations went?

For us EIE was much more about looking great in front of people we already knew slightly rather than making new contacts. Mercia was present in force at EIE15 and they became our lead investors – I’m sure EIE played a role in that!

Where were you as a company before EIE compared with where are you now? How have you had to adapt to change?

We first attended EIE before we were a company – when we were still a project hoping to spin out of Edinburgh Napier University. Now we’ve raised £1.5m to date (another £1.3m is closing just now), secured a contract with the Home Office to deliver our technology nationally, won our first customers in Europe, and formed at partnership with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington to take our technology to the USA. We’ve talked about our work in venues from Dallas TX to 10 Downing Street, and from Germany and Dubai to Kensington Palace! Every single one of these presentations has benefitted from skills learned preparing for EIE.

Since your participation in EIE have you hired more staff? If so, what types of employees have you hired and how have they helped with business growth?

The biggest change has been the transformation from an idea with a couple of people behind it to a team of 11 full time, with a number of non-executives, advisors and contractors who support us. This has been crucial – there is nothing more important to invest in than people, as they bring the passion, inspiration and hard work that lets us grow.

Are you able to share any details of your business growth in terms of funding, since your participation in EIE?

To date we’ve raised £1.5m in three rounds, with Mercia and SIB our main investors. We’ve also been supported by Scottish Enterprise with advice and grant funding. We’re just closing a further £1.3m this autumn, bringing in some new investors from London as well as existing ones.

Anything else you would like to tell us about your EIE participation?

EIE elevates every company that participates – the combination of training, preparation, great venues and the highest production quality I’ve ever seen at an entrepreneurial pitch event makes it easy for companies to shine. It lasts far beyond the day too – the skills, pictures, video and halo brand of EIE stay with the company long after. EIE has been an important step in every fundraise we’ve done – giving us the chance to shine in front of current and prospective investors.