Data breaches are one of the biggest problems companies have today.

Large companies by and large have responded by building tighter security in their computer systems, said Dan Gardner, co-founder of Minneapolis startup ProcessBolt.

But what about the vendors they work with?

In trying to close any vulnerabilities in their systems, companies require vendors to prove their systems will not introduce breaches, Gardner said. The large companies need to trust that the vendors’ operations are secure. 

That’s a smart step on the part of companies but it has become a big headache for vendors who serve multiple customers. Each of the customers require different paperwork or information technology standards. Much of it hasn’t been automated, so companies are manually entering data. And for the company with thousands of vendors, it can be a bottleneck as well — and expensive for both ends of the relationship.

That’s where ProcessBolt comes in. The company “builds on the security fence that is half built” and provides the tools for a risk management system necessary in today’s information technology systems.

“We decided there had to be a better way,” Gardner said. “It allows companies to manage vendor risk and stay out of the headlines.”

ProcessBolt can reduce the amount of time it takes to set up necessary risk management by as much as 80 percent, he said.

“We saw a business practice that seemed really archaic and wrong and said, ‘We should be able to do this better,’ ” co-founder Gaurav Gaur said.

ProcessBolt not only automates a process, it also stores documentation for audits down the road, saving companies a lot of time on repetitive duties.

The two software developers met at NetSpi, a cybersecurity company started by Seth Peter, who has served as a mentor for Gardner and Gaur. When NetSpi was sold in early 2017, the men thought about what their next step should be professionally and decided to start a cybersecurity company of their own.

The two figured Fortune 500 companies would have developed their own ways to automate their vendor risk management. What they found was that there was plenty of opportunity still at the larger companies. Corporations like Coca-Cola and Eastman Chemical were among ProcessBolt’s first round of clients.

The company — which has received a total of $470,000 in pre-seed capital — was chosen by both the Beta and Target + Techstars Retail accelerators, which provide resources, office space and mentoring to participants.

By the end of the Techstars program, ProcessBolt had signed contracts to work with Nike and CHS.

Since then, it signed a large health care customer that manages complicated agreements with doctors and educational institutions. And it signed several vendors that ProcessBolt executives said were looking for ways to speed the process of fulfilling their clients’ needs.

Now that ProcessBolt is actively working with clients, the two have become even more energized.

“The fun part is when someone gets their hands on it and they have an idea of how to use it that we never thought of,” Gardner said.

Gardner and Gaur up until now had contracted out ProcessBolt’s needs. The company now is actively seeking its first employees in sales and program development. It is concentrating its efforts on gaining retail and health care clients.

“However, we’re small enough and new enough to be opportunistic” and flexible if business goes in a different direction, Gaur said.

The two men are used to building a team.

Gardner grew up in Janesville, Minn., near Mankato. He earned his bachelor’s degree at St. John’s University, then went to the University of Notre Dame for graduate school.

He then settled in the Twin Cities and NetSpi’s Peter was a co-worker in his first full-time job. In 2001, he became NetSpi’s first software developer.

Gaur — who grew up and received engineering and computer science degrees in India — started his professional career in Cyprus and came to the Twin Cities in 2004 to work on his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota. He worked locally and then moved to San Francisco to work for a startup there.

As his child was getting ready to start school, Gaur and his wife decided to move back to the Twin Cities. Gaur’s job search landed him as NetSpi’s second software developer.

The two then built the department into a 10- to 12-person team.

This is the second company that Gardner has started. The first was in 2000, and he said the startup support in the Twin Cities today compared to then is substantial.

“There are all kinds of opportunities to get help,” Gaur said.