Our story so far and introducing free web filtering and 1:1 management for schools

Skip to the invitation request page: http://www.securly.com/features/free

Two years ago, we co-founded Securly after having spent several years building enterprise security products. The genesis of Securly was when Vinay observed his six year old nephew accidentally stumble upon an unsafe YouTube video on an iPad. Given our entrepreneurial interests and backgrounds in security – this was the perfect “opportunity” we were seeking. We immediately quit our jobs at McAfee and Huawei-Symantec, and built an OpenDNS+Barracuda combo focused on K-12 needs. School IT admins now enjoyed the simplicity of a 5-min DNS based deployment and the granularity of full-blown proxy or appliance vendors. Our invention had found an instant product-market fit as IT admins latched onto the cloud-based alternative to traditional appliances vision.

However, what started as a purely entrepreneurial pursuit changed into a “double bottom-line” mission statement the minute we stepped into a school campus where we saw Securly in action keeping the students focused and safe online – a truly surreal moment for us. This was at our first customer school here – Milpitas Unified – in the Silicon Valley area. We wondered if two immigrant engineers with no sales background could dream of selling to the rest of the United States – especially when schools are known to be hard to sell to. Driven purely by our mission, we pursued the idea and realized that K-12 was in fact the best thing that happened to us. We have found IT admins and Educators from schools across the country, affluent or otherwise underserved, rural and urban, to be extremely welcoming of EdTech start-ups and are a lot more forgiving than the pure enterprise and consumer markets we were used to.

This reciprocity from the community we set out to serve fueled our passion even more. We met amazing individuals who helped shape our product and business – customers, partners, evangelists, and investors such as Imagine K-12 and FOUNDER.org. Some of these individuals are now part of Securly – Awais Ahsan and Maurice McClain who spent most of their careers as a math teacher and school IT admin respectively – and continue to make a dent in education now through Securly.

In the two years we’ve been providing our web-filtering product to schools, we’ve run into a number of situations wherein schools in underserved communities simply did not have the resources to afford a good web-filtering solution. We’ve had IT admins in these schools tell us that more than half of their meager EdTech budget was often allocated to acquiring a web-filter. In these situations, Securly was often a solution that addressed a mandated requirement with a disruptively low price-point. Still, we have always asked ourselves if we could do better.

Introducing “securlyFree”: Securly’s DNS to Proxy innovation and 1:1 Chromebook, Windows and Macbook management solutions all have a light operational footprint and this allows us to offer a “lite” version of the product for free – perpetually – for any school that wants to use it. However, like most enterprise “freemium” business models, we are also expecting a fraction of the schools who try us for free to eventually become paid customers and referrers. This move aligns with the company’s “double bottom-line” goal of helping the neediest of schools while bringing a key business model innovation to the table.

Though this “securlyFree” version of the product will have caps on usage that will meet the requirements of under-served schools, it will continue to bring to these schools the full range of innovations we pioneer. The hope is to allow schools around the world to be able benefit from safe online education using 21st century tools such as YouTube, search and Wikipedia – freely and easily.

Sincerely,

Vinay & Bharath – Co-founders of Securly://

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Securly Announces Multi-Year Relationships with Aspire Public Schools and Summit Public Schools

Santa Clara, CA

Securly, Inc. – the world’s leading cloud-based provider of Internet Security for K-12 schools – today announced the signing of multi-year contracts with Aspire Public Schools and Summit Public Schools. Two of California’s leading Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) with a total of 19,000 students and staff spread across 40 schools can now benefit from the ease of management and low cost of Securly’s cloud based solution for web-filtering.

Cloud-based Filtering a Logical Choice for Geographically Dispersed Charter Schools

Cloud-based Filtering a Logical Choice for Geographically Dispersed Charter Schools

It has been pointed out that the needs of Charter Schools are usually distinct from that of public school districts. This is certainly true in the case of web-filtering. Traditional school districts have a hub and spoke model whereby all traffic goes though a single choke-point. This means that these districts can achieve CIPA compliance by deploying a single high capacity appliance. Schools that are managed by CMOs are geographically dispersed. Aspire for example has their 35 schools spread throughout the state of California with some schools in Tennessee as well. Summit on the other hand has near term expansion plans in Washington State. The lack of a hub and spoke necessitates the use of a stand-alone appliance for every single school-site thereby increasing costs dramatically. To make things more complicated, a thinly stretched IT staff is forced to go to remote locations to deploy these appliances. Therefore, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) can be quite a bit higher than up-front capital expenditure.

Securly’s cloud based web-filtering solution can be deployed centrally with no need for hardware based appliances. This saves these schools significant amounts of time and money. Says Brian Sullivan, Network Administrator at Aspire Public Schools – “We have used several other enterprise solutions in the past. Some were adequate, and some underperformed. I am happy to report that Securly met and exceeded expectations. Their product scores major points across several categories. It is very easy to use and even easier to implement.”

Before Securly, the only cloud based solutions that charter schools had access to were what might be described as “domain-blockers.” The “all or nothing” approach makes it impossible to secure domains like Google and YouTube which while being de-facto 21st century classroom tools, do contain a lot of content that is inappropriate and distracting. Securly’s industry-first “selective proxy” approach gives schools the best of both worlds – the low-cost and simplicity of a cloud-based solution combined with the functionality of an appliance.

“Securly is delighted to have Aspire and Summit on board as customers. Their setup presents obvious management challenges and we believe that the Securly solution is best positioned to meet these,” said Bharath Madhusudan, co-founder and CTO of Securly.