BalkanID brings AI to identity governance and administration to take on SailPoint

·3-min read

Identity governance and administration (IGA) -- that's probably not something you think of every waking hour of your day, but somebody on your IT team probably is. In a modern company, the number of identities in use has expanded rapidly in recent years and with that, the challenge to manage, audit and control all of these different identities and the access they have -- and maybe even tie them to specific users -- has become exponentially harder. This is not a completely new problem, though, and companies like SailPoint have long tried to tackle it. Unsurprisingly, there are also a few startups that are trying to shake up the status quo in this field. One of those is BalkanID, which today announced a $2.36 million extension to its seed financing round, bringing the total to $8.1 million.

BalkanID, which launched out of stealth in May 2022, argues that its solution, which heavily leverages AI, puts it ahead of the competition. "When it comes to the state of IGA, how it's done depends on who you are," BalkanID co-founder and CEO Subbu Rama told me when I asked him about the current state of the industry. "Larger enterprises usually have pricey, cumbersome/time-consuming to deploy legacy IGA tools such as SailPoint. Mid-to-smaller sized companies use spreadsheets, ticketing systems like Jira -- and lots of man-hours."

Image Credits: BalkanID

Rama noted that his last startup, Bitfusion, built infrastructure to accelerate AI, so he has quite a bit of experience in this field. The company, a finalist in our Disrupt NY 2015 Battlefield, was acquired by VMware in 2019. Rama then met Sameer Sait (the former CISO at Whole Foods/Amazon and Forcepoint) through an introduction by a former Bitfusion investor after the acquisition. In talking to a lot of CISOs, the team realized that compliance, identity management and entitlement sprawl were some of the themes that would pop up repeatedly during those conversations and decided to tackle it for their next startup.

"Once we had our idea, we roped in Jeremy Patton as our third co-founder. And it's not just Jeremy and I who have a successful track record working together -- we’ve also worked with most of our senior engineering team before," Rama explained.

Using AI, BalkanID offers what it calls "Identity Governance and Administration on autopilot." The idea here is to offer the core features of IGA: provide visibility into entitlements, and simplify and automate access reviews -- and then have these processes run as autonomously as possible.

The Austin-based company's original seed round includes investors like Uncommon Capital, Afore Capital and Sure Ventures and technology executives like Rishi Bhargava, co-founder of Demisto (acquired by Palo Alto Networks); Ely Kahn, co-founder of Sqrrl (acquired by Amazon); John N. Stewart of Talon Ventures, former SVP, chief security and trust officer at Cisco; Clark Golestani, former EVP and CIO at Merck; Pat Condon, co-founder of Rackspace; and Vivek Sodera, co-founder of Superhuman. Now, K2G Tech Fund, GIT1K Club, Firsthand Ventures, MGV and NKM Capital have also invested in the company.

The company plans to use the new funding to accelerate its growth, something a lot of companies tend to say at this stage. Interestingly, the team also notes that this new round will, if necessary, allow it to "buffer the company from market fluctuations as it capitalizes on the demand for its Intelligent Access Governance platform." It's no secret that the funding environment has changed rapidly over the last few months and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more of these seed extensions in the coming months.

"BalkanID’s ability to make cloud-native access governance intelligent and pain-free enabled the company to raise additional funds when funding sources were drying up," said Demisto co-founder and BalkanID investor Rishi Bhargava. "I’m more confident than ever about BalkanID’s prospects."