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Practical advice for cyber security entrepreneurs. Learn from our experience.


The Art of the Shortcut

As an entrepreneur you are constantly looking for shortcuts.  Bypassing a few steps is not a tragedy, you tell yourself. Let’s skip version 0.5 and launch the software now, you tell your colleagues. Let’s skip the design partner phase and the beta site and start immediately with the commercial steps of the company… and so on.


As you can imagine, building a cyber security business from scratch takes a long time and a lot of blood and sweat, so it's natural for first-time entrepreneurs to look for shortcuts. You will allow yourself to try and reach your goals faster than you might, believing deep down in your heart that this shortcut is probably a stroke of luck or fortune.

The true believers in shortcuts will probably wait until their company is up and selling before they establish their company formally.  Some will rely on informal agreements and verbal consent with their co-founders and the people who helped them establish the product or develop the technology. A few will bypass the market evaluation (customer need and competitive analysis).

I would say: Don’t skip the process of building your start up step by step. There is a reason why you and your team must go through the entire process to grow your company. Shortcuts are great, especially if they take place in parallel to a professional process. A generous offer from a VC can change the course of the company for the best, surprisingly positive feedback from a giant customer can restructure your sales operation and increase your company’s value -  but don’t stray from the main road: it's extremely  important to go through the correct process for building a quality company, despite the difficulties your your team will probably face.

Too many shortcuts can come back to haunt you. Be prepared.


Business Strategy – the Most Important Component of a Start-up

We strongly suggest that cyber security entrepreneurs create a minimal business plan. A simple version, but one that is strategically oriented. For now, you can forget the vision and mission statements, pricing models.  Forget the numbers, the break-even point where you will reach profitability. You will get to all of that soon enough.


As a result of your simple, easy to understand plan, newborn founders and employees will be much better equipped to assess whether their business idea is feasible, whether it is unique, and why their solution will appeal to customers. What kind of customers are you aiming for? And the most important question: What are the primary differences between your newborn cyber security company and your competitors?

Understand your future customers (deeply)

As soon as you can, meet with potential customers and investigate the types of security problems they are facing. Let them do the talking. Let them explain their daily challenges and what they feel could best address them. Choose your target market carefully. Get this mission right and you will be more than pleased with the results. You will have something unique in hand, something the market really needs. You will understand how your business is going to meet the needs of the market.

Learn more from your competitors

Invest a decent amount of time on this mission.  What competitors are out there? How are your potential competitors approaching the market? Consult with experts regarding the competitor’s weaknesses and strengths. How can you improve upon their approach?

We recommend that these you consider these two key areas before doing anything else. At the end of the process you will be far more familiar with your cyber product, your target customers and your direct and indirect competitors. Once this important process is over, you can deal with the many, many additional issues you need to solve.


Timing is EVERYTHING When Raising Capital for Your Start-up

The haze that follows in the moments following that big round of funding….. You feel heroic. Indeed it's an ego boost. Investors start calling you, and all of a sudden your team has more energy than ever before.

Raising funds too soon can be dangerous. Like everything in life, too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing. The worst outcome from a premature round of funding is that it can stop you and your team from running lean.

Timing is everything

When you're starting out, it’s your creativity in that void that enables you to get your company off the ground. This is especially true for cyber security startups, where development talent can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual basis. After fundraising, your commitment to the investors pushes you to advance quickly, but will prevent you from running a tight ship. You may lose focus while dealing with so many tasks now that you can afford to delegate to others.

Once you’re used to having an improved cash flow, you will find how quickly it gets depleted, and how soon you will need more to maintain all of the large scale systems you have put into place; the employees that are consuming payroll, the equipment that needs maintenance and multiple other processes (R&D and commercial).

Our advice: Try not to spend so much money on offices, developers, accounting and legal firms too soon. Stay lean until you've proven your model and are ready to scale. Learn the market, check your competitors, polish your message and understand your new cyber company’s value. You will be surprised at how far you can go with little or no money. The more money you save, the more of the company you can keep, the higher your company’s valuation will be, and the less time you'll waste.


Don’t Lose Your Focus

Many cyber security startups have difficulty staying focused. Many inexperienced entrepreneurs push to develop a wide range of products (“to do this and to do that”). It is easy to get carried away. A bigger product is not necessarily a wiser product and is in no way a guarantee that the market will accept or appreciate the product.


Often the right move is to do just the opposite: you need to set a clear focus in your go-to-market strategy: your product and its uniqueness (even if it’s small), your audience, your strategy — these are all critical from the very first day.

The road is long – so you need to be focused on your daily routine as well. Completing “only” a few things each week may mean excellence, however trying to achieve the bucket list usually results in incomplete, mediocre output. Compromise is key.

Restrain the hundreds of new ideas that enter your mind on a daily basis. While some of these ideas may be good ones, we’ve learned that we need to edit our creativity and be sure not to waste energy when moving forward in order not to overwhelm ourselves and our employees. Everyone has limited time and resources, being focused and prioritizing is key to not wasting them.


Are you Thinking of Working on a Cyber Security Idea?

Any idea what the success rates are? Recent research shows that 94% of cyber startups fail. And it's not because of lack of funding. More than 75% of startups that received VC funding from 2004 to 2010 didn’t make it – at all. Odds are, you won't be a Brin, a Zuckerberg, a Systrom or a Karp.

There are many reasons for failing; some are common and very fundamental.


You probably imagine that the main reasons are: the product is not that great or perhaps the CEO / co-founder is blocking the company's growth….. but no.

Most entrepreneurs fall in love with their own technology and will likely forget to check two main issues:

  • The market need and today's current pain points. Who, specifically, are the main potential customers?
  • Who are their primary competitors and what is better about your offering?

Whether you are new to the startup field, or you are a serial entrepreneur, don’t forget to address these points before establishing your company formally. If you and your co-founders cannot answer these questions, gather some tips from cyber experts who know the answers and avoid some of the most common, game-ending mistakes committed by young cyber startups.