Alex Mitchell has always been interested in technology and business. After completing high school at Mountain View in Meridian, Idaho, he attended the College of Western Idaho and graduated in December of 2021 with an associate’s degree in business. During the fall semester, his wife, Kalyn (a junior in Boise State’s GIMM program) told him about a cybersecurity event that he should look into.
“I had no intention of attending,” Alex said, “but my wife signed me up anyway saying it would be good for me. I thought it would be a coding boot camp where I would learn skills in cybersecurity. I was very wrong.”
What Alex was signed up for was the Cybersecurity Entrepreneur Challenge, a reverse-pitch competition hosted by the Boise Venture College that took place in October of 2021.
CEC participants are given a series of cyber-industry problems that need solutions. Based on similar interests to solve the problem “how can digital cybersecurity tools integrate more with physical security,” Alex was teamed with Tatum Jones, a computer science major at Boise State University, and Cameron White, a cybersecurity major at the College of Western Idaho, for the competition.
“In my own research, I found staggering statistics regarding the response time to cyber crime, and the rising cost of data, property and internal physical theft. The case problem combined with incredibly disheartening statistics is what inspired the idea of TAC Security,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell had the idea of creating an AI-based threat management system that would integrate with a company’s existing infrastructure. The software would detect illogical events and potential breaches of a company’s physical and cyber assets in real-time, categorize and assign these events into a directory based on the severity of the risk level, and then subsequently alert the point-of-contact person responsible for handling such events. TAC Security ended up taking first place and winning $12,000 in seed-funding.
In January, Mitchell started school at Boise State to get his Bachelor of Business Administration in Information Technology Management. He learned about the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge from the Venture College and was encouraged to enter, which he did with his CSC teammates. TAC Security was one of the 24 teams selected to compete.
As the team prepared for the IEC, they were helped along the way by Edward Vasko, the director of the Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity at Boise State, and John Wee, a lecturer in the Department of Information Technology and Supply Chain Management.
“Ed Vasko and John Wee helped us tremendously with advice and guidance. Without these two, our company would not be where it is today,” said Mitchell. “John even pulled in several other professors to brainstorm ideas and potential avenues moving forward.”
Mitchell’s business classes taught him the fundamentals of starting a business, but more importantly they taught him the importance of networking.
“I used to wonder why networking was so important, but the clear answer is that in business you can’t do everything alone. This was exemplified at the IEC. It was exciting to meet so many fellow entrepreneurs. The energy at the IEC was exhilarating. Everyone was so kind and encouraging, No one wanted anyone to lose,” said Mitchell.
The team of Jones, Mitchell and White won 2nd Runner-up in the Software Track at the IEC. Post competition, the team is busy perfecting their business, doing customer discovery and reassessing their pricing model.
The College of Business and Economics faculty who brainstormed with Mitchell alongside Wee were Teagen Nabity-Grover, Kevin Rank and Dan Rush.
“I congratulate Alex on placing at the competition and wish him all the best with his future pursuit with his cybersecurity company, TAC Security,” said Wee. “I also enjoyed exchanging ideas with my fellow ITM colleagues and I thank them for their wisdom and time they spent with my student, Alex.”