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A community for cyber entrepreneurs: LORCA Ignite

“Entrepreneurship can be lonely,” said Deloitte partner Stephen Wray.

“So for cyber startups, and especially their CEOs, being part of a community that shares similar ambitions is important.”


For the last five years, Stephen has led our firm’s work with LORCA, also known as the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement. It’s a Government-backed cyber accelerator, delivered by Plexal and supported by Deloitte and the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).

As part of LORCA, our people have mentored and advised cyber startups. “It’s about offering encouragement, while also getting into the nitty gritty of the business,” says Stephen, “and steering their ideas to meet emerging opportunities in the market.”

Impressively, LORCA’s 72 startups have created over 700 new jobs between them. Proof, if it were needed, that while there’s no substitute for a great idea, an expert helping hand can make all the difference.

Whether it’s our own social media and bank accounts or the personal data companies have stored about us, we all want to know our data is safe, retained accurately and available when we need it.

And with new tech emerging more quickly than ever, there’s a growing demand for cyber solutions.

With huge potential to create jobs, strengthen the economy and build national resilience, nurturing cyber innovators is a core part of the UK’s National Cyber Strategy.

“Cyber is mainly a business-to-business sector,” says Saj Huq, chief commercial officer and head of innovation services at Plexal.

“It can be hard for early-stage companies to break into the industry, especially if their ideas need a lot of research and development.

“LORCA has helped by turning unmet needs in the cyber industry into opportunities for startups, supporting them as they create the solutions businesses need.”

Striking the match

Building on LORCA’s success, its partners spotted an opportunity to do more.

“The industry was missing some ‘rising stars’,” says Saj. “And we had a group of LORCA startups with the potential to grow further - with the right support.”

So LORCA’s partners created LORCA Ignite, designed to help six of the UK’s most promising cyber startups (and LORCA graduates) realise their potential.

Stephen and Saj each played a key role in delivering the programme, working along inspiring CEOs like Dr Shahram Mossayebe, who founded Crypto Quantique.

Read on for their reflections on what made the programme work.

Follow the leader

“You can’t build a startup without a strong leader,” Shahram explains. “A startup’s biggest asset is its story. If you can’t lead people to work together around that idea, you won’t succeed.

“And as you grow and bring in more experienced people, you need to get everyone heading in the same direction.”

The LORCA Ignite curriculum took inspiration from Deloitte’s Transition Labs programme for new CEOs and its Business Chemistry tool, which uses data reveal patterns of behaviour.

“I learned that a big part of leadership is to understand what type of person you are,” Shahram continues. “It opened my eyes and helped me appreciate the working styles that can complement each other to achieve results.”
“Supporting the six leaders to progress from the role of technical founder to successful CEO is where the programme’s strengths really lie,” says Stephen.

Make cyber a team sport

“Learning and sharing insight as part of a network can help you see problems and opportunities from another perspective,” says Saj.

“Our six startups were open-minded to collaboration and non-traditional partnership,” he continues.

“Their products and services could have overlapped, but what the startups have created are complementary propositions – and this is useful learning for larger organisations who are looking at different ways to build value.”

Hearing other founders and CEOs talk about the challenges they’re facing was the most valuable part of the programme for Shahram - and music to Stephen’s ears.

“It was brilliant to hear the founders share their own experiences and open up to one another,” Stephen said.

“Cyber is a team sport and with challenges big enough for us all to work together to solve - imagine the impact of relationships like this across the wider cyber community.”

A trusted mentor

A big part of LORCA Ignite was its 1:1 mentoring programme. “These relationships, between the six founders, their respective mentors and each other are what I’m most proud of,” says Saj.

Each founder was paired with an experienced advisor who had scaled a business or product or had experience in developing new partnerships and cyber relationships.

“I specifically wanted Stephen to be our mentor,” Shahram tells us. “It’s hard to find someone who can understand a business as complex as ours, but Stephen comes from the same background, so it’s easy to talk about the challenges we were facing.”

“We had a lot going on at the time. Stephen helped me to look at things objectively and break problems down into smaller chunks, which was very helpful.”


“It’s the benefit of being part of a community. That’s the biggest thing we’ve learned.”

Saj Huq, Chief commercial officer and head of innovation services, Plexal

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