citybiz+ Paladin Capital-Backed RangeForce Raises $18.5 Million

RangeForce, an Estonian startup with signification operations in the United States, has raised $18.5 million from undisclosed investors, as it develops a SaaS-based cybersecurity training platform.

Investors in the seven-year-old firm, which has offices in Manassas, Va., include Washington-based Paladin Capital Group, which led a seed round in 2019; Energy Impact Partners (New York, Washington, D.C.), which led a Series A round in 2020; and Estonia’s Trind Ventures. So far, RangeForce has raised $36.5 million.

“One-size-fits-all classroom training models are obsolete, because they don’t provide actionable skills required to hold threats at bay,” RangeForce CEO Taavi Must said in a statement after raising $1.5 million in a seed round in 2019.

“Our problem-based learning approach provides enterprise IT and cybersecurity teams with tangible defensive cyber warfare experience. Cloud-based simulation training in a real-time setting has shown to be the most effective cybersecurity training method at scale,” added Must, who has previously worked at EMC and Oracle.

Inspired by NATO Framework

Taavi Must, Jaanus Kink and Margus Ernits founded RangeForce in 2015. For most of his career, Must worked in enterprise software and was exposed to cyber when working on a range for external defense forces. The “turning point,” Must said, came when the project he built began to be used for the largest NATO international cybersecurity exercises.

RangeForce addresses the valuable cybersecurity training required for a modern workforce. Its programs also aim to ease a severe global shortage of skilled cybersecurity staff. The company believes that the human skill level is “the most important element” in cybersecurity readiness.

“We help cybersecurity professionals and operations people train and learn defense skills in real networks against real attacks while using their real tools like Splunk and Recorded Future,” Must has previously said. “The idea is that they can log into the cloud-based simulator pretty much the same way pilots log into their flight simulators and learn how to behave during a crisis.”

RangeForce’s customer base cuts across industry sectors and firm size, amid rising demand for cybersecurity training across the board. Its customers include heavyweights such as Microsoft, Barclays and Santander.

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Paladin Capital Group, which primarily invests in cybersecurity startups but also in alternative energy firms, has raised over $1 billion from three funds since its inception. The third fund has completed 34 investments, besides providing follow-on capital to its portfolio companies. Paladin was cofounded by one-time lawyers and financial executives Michael Steed and Mark Maloney. Steed serves as managing partner, while Maloney is managing director. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Paladin has offices in New York City, Silicon Valley and London.

Energy Impact Partners was founded by former General Electric executives Hans Kobler and Michael Donnelly, and Lindsay Luger, an experienced venture investor. With a sharp focus on sustainable energy, the firm has made over 100 portfolio investments and currently has more than $3 billion in assets under management in the United States and Europe. Kobler serves as the firm’s managing partner, while Donnelly is chief risk officer.