xTechManufacture finalist secures the digital thread for the Army

By Steve Lusher, Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army Applied SBIR ProgramMarch 9, 2023

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WASHINGTON – In this digital age of ever-growing automation, the need to protect digital data is more crucial than ever. Corsha, Inc. offers a solution — using a cutting-edge Application Programming Interface technology security approach to actively safeguard automated machines from malicious cyber attacks.

Anusha Iyer, the co-founder and driving force behind Corsha, recently stepped up to become CEO of this Vienna, Va.-based success story. As a finalist for the xTechManufacture competition with their proposal “Securing the Digital Thread with Zero Trust MFA,” Corsha is pioneering a new wave in API security to keep Army systems safe from digital threats.

“What we are doing with APIs is something that we’re very familiar with and really rely on these days for security control on the human side — which is namely MFA, or multi-factor authentication,” Iyer said. “We’ve come up with a way to do this fully automated for machines.”

From a defense manufacturing perspective, this means being able to protect machine-to-machine communication in all shapes, forms and sizes. This layer of protection is critical, not only from an infrastructure perspective but also from a manufacturing perspective, where our systems are hyper-connected in the operational and digital space.

Iyer and her co-founder embarked on this entrepreneurial venture with just $1 million and some inspiring ideas scribbled onto a Starbucks napkin. Fast-forward a few years, Corsha has secured over $15 million in investment capital from numerous sources — all of which helped transform the two-person team into today’s crew of over 20 people.

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“I’m very proud of the fact that a lot of our early core team from year one, so about four core engineers, are still with us today,” Iyer pointed out. “That’s been a really important part of making sure we’re not just building a product that matters, but a culture that matters and supports that.”

It turns out that innovation runs in the family. Anusha learned about the Army xTechManufacture competition through her father, who is in the manufacturing industry. In his line of work, researching cutting-edge aluminum materials welding techniques, the opportunity came through his email. Seizing the moment, Anusha drew upon her prior experience with the Air Force Sustainment Center to maximize her success and meet the xTechManufacture’s competition goals.

xTech opens the doors to innovative, collaborative opportunities between businesses and Army experts by breaking through traditional barriers. Through prize competitions and other incentives such as follow-on contracts or access to unique resources, xTech not only helps stimulate innovation in support of the military but also provides invaluable networking opportunities for commercial stakeholders.

By participating in programs such as xTech, Corsha has opened the door to exciting possibilities in defense technology. Not only have they been able to work closely with the Department of Defense, but companies like Corsha are also helping to shape a new era of innovation that could prove revolutionary for defense systems or civilian use.

“It’s really just a wonderful collaboration, I think, to bring industry innovation and the government together,” Iyer said.

Iyer has forged an inspiring and remarkable journey in the tech field. What helped her succeed and build credibility was to stay true to herself, keep it fun, and make her work speak for itself. When asked what advice she may have for young women interested in the technology career field, Iyer said that while some may find the field intimidating at first, it helps to pull it apart and break it into pieces. Technology is no different than putting a puzzle together, and the xTech Program has helped the company integrate an Army piece to the Corsha puzzle.

“As a young company, what we value so much is the feedback,” Anusha offered. “Being able to receive feedback not only from networking, but from xTech itself. They have a really nice way to give evaluations and give feedback along with a scoring card. That’s been super helpful.”

As a finalist of xTechManufacture, Corsha had the unparalleled chance to bring their expertise and ideas straight to key defense stakeholders who can help their growth in the Army space. Invaluable networking opportunities and feedback from professionals within this sector have helped Iyer and her company continue to push industry boundaries and find more opportunities for success.

Established in 2018, the Army xTech Program strives to integrate small businesses and non-traditional vendors into the Army’s science and technology ecosystem by providing opportunities for direct exposure to laboratories, program executive offices and program managers from across the Army. Participants receive detailed feedback from Army and DoD stakeholders and have access to training, mentorship, and other support infrastructure as they progress through the competition to determine how best to align their technology solutions with real users and buyers within the Army.

The xTech Program holds several competitions per year, from open-topic competitions such as xTechSearch, to technology-specific competitions targeting specific Army needs and challenges. For all competition information, go to https://www.xtechsearch.army.mil/.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology provides the American Soldier with a decisive advantage in any mission by developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining the world's finest equipment and services, and by leveraging technologies and capabilities to meet current and future Army needs.