Max Sokolov, Head of Engineering, and Technical Recruiter Irina Filippova share the story of how CyberCube came to select Estonia as CyberCube’s third office location, and outlines the highs and lows of the journey so far.
CyberCube was incubated within Symantec, and in January 2018 we were launched as a standalone, independent VC-backed company with offices in San Francisco and London. We help the cyber insurance market to grow profitably through the use of our world-leading cyber risk analytics.
As part of our growth strategy, we were looking for a new European office and considered the Czech Republic and Portugal. While both countries are also renowned for attracting human intellectual capital and foreign direct investment, we were drawn to Estonia for a number of reasons. To begin with, it is increasingly appearing on corporate radars as a great place to work and set up operations in a technologically literate and progressive environment. According to the World Bank, Estonia is among the top 20 countries in a ranking of the ease of doing business. In other words, it is developing a fast-growing and well-deserved reputation, for being a ‘can-do’ place for business.
Estonia is one of the most digitally-advanced countries and economies in the world. It pioneered e-residency and allows all transactions to be conducted online. Cyber security and cyber risk is top of mind in Estonian society. For example, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is located here.
Laying down our roots
It was relatively easy to establish ourselves here. Before setting up, we created a plan focusing on visibility, publicity, appeal and communication to attract the right people in the software engineering community. We examined our marketing and promotional material to excite and attract the necessary talent. The sheer quality of the people we interviewed for very senior roles, including principal software developers, delighted us.
We opened our office in the Spring of 2019. The last two years have flown by; it has been a very interesting time, but obviously challenging with Covid-19. In that time we have built a team of 15 people in Tallinn - 12 of which are engineers. The Tallinn team was instrumental in being the lead creator and developer of several highly successful product offerings and continues to provide significant contributions to the overall CyberCube product portfolio. We initially took some space in a co-working environment in the city centre but as we grew we opened a brand-new office in Rocca al Mare last year.
Reviewing the last two years
Since CyberCube established a footprint in Estonia, we have reached some significant milestones. We completed a $40 million Series B fundraising in early 2020 to help us accelerate our role as the market-leading cyber risk analytics company serving the insurance industry.
We have also been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a technology pioneer, which poised us to have a significant impact on business and society. Companies selected in the past include Airbnb, Google, Spotify and Twitter.
Despite Covid-19, we are continuing to grow our client base, having tripled the number of clients in 2020 and despite the pandemic we achieved a 100% customer retention rate last year. We continue to be innovative and, during the past year, updated two of our software products and launched a third one.
So far this year we have been recognized in the CB Insights 250 List of Fastest-Growing Fintech Start-ups and we made it to a very honorable 130th on the Growjo 10,000 list, which honours 10,000 of the fastest-growing companies in the world. We have won numerous accolades, including Advisen’s Cyber Risk Model of the year award and the InsuranceERM awards for Cyber Solution of the Year. We’ve won both of these awards for the past two consecutive years.
Internally, we strive to show innovation. CyberCube has an open-minded approach to adopting new technologies. As a good example, we are building our products on microservices architecture. Our teams can choose which technologies they would like to use for their projects. For example, one team has recently started to use Kotlin.
Maintaining the CyberCube Culture
While we have opened our office in Estonia, we have remained loyal to one of the most important values of CyberCube - building trust through openness. We regularly hold one-to-one, as well as team and project retrospection sessions where we talk about what's working and what's not working and how we want to improve.
We have a very flat and transparent company structure where we value everyone’s contribution as part of a successful team. We provide stock options for new joiners and we also value work-life balance so even prior to Coronavirus, staff enjoyed flexible working hours and were able to work from home.
We have a truly supportive learning culture. Our management aims to enable staff to allow them to grow professionally and personally. For example, we support employees’ professional development through sponsoring courses and mentorship programmes.
CyberCube during Covid
Ensuring that people communicate with each other and feel engaged during the continued uncertainty created by the pandemic remains paramount. Pre-COVID-19 we would frequently travel to San Francisco to meet our colleagues and participate in company-wide activities, for example, at a Hackathon event. Our team is working closely on ideas born out of the hackathon.
During the pandemic, we have continued to collaborate virtually via regular meetings where teams can discuss projects they are working on, and share their knowledge and experiences. We have focused on the well-being of employees, making sure that people engage with each other and have the appropriate office equipment to work from home. We have provided financial support for setting up a working environment at home for every employee.
To maintain team spirit, we organise many online events. The most popular and favourite activity so far have been online cooking classes, although we have also offered a range of virtual events including painting, cocktail making, wine and cheese tasting and even a trip to a virtual jazz bar. We have organised a series of Fitness Challenges with prizes for individuals and teams.
We have huge growth aspirations in the near future. In Tallinn, we are planning to hire more than 10 people in the near future. In addition, this summer we will be taking on a new cohort of interns.
One of the most important goals in 2021 is to continue to create and deliver a sustained and comprehensive program of gender diversity and inclusion initiatives across the company. We are aiming to not only attract more women in the Tech and Insurance sectors, but to empower them and support their personal and professional growth.
The past two years since we opened our office in Tallinn have passed by quickly.
We are looking forward to what the next few years bring!
To watch a short video on why we chose to open in Tallinn, click here.
To view jobs at CyberCube in Tallinn, click here.