It has now been a little over a year since I decided to join and lead the Source Defense startup journey. While I could have anticipated many of the things happening in the past 12 months – I must admit – some caught me, and us all, by surprise.
I’ll begin with a short story. A couple of weeks ago, I met with an investor that has been following Source Defense for several years. Before I even got to share with her the latest happenings in the company, she shared something that could easily summarize the recent changes we were experiencing at Source Defense.
The investor had just hired a new personal assistant (PA) and asked him to set up a meeting with me. The response from the PA was, “Source Defense – Wow! This is an amazing startup – I have been following them on social media. It seems like an amazing company to work at and they are skyrocketing”. Truthfully, I don’t remember the rest of the meeting with her as I was filled with joy.
As the conversation progressed, the next question she asked posed me to categorize the three major achievements we experienced in the past 12 months. After quickly running through the past few months in my head and the millions of accomplishments we were able to achieve, I decided on the following: Embracing the Human Relationship Element, Establishing and Driving our Go-To-Market Strategy, and Empowering Trust & Value.
Embracing the Human Relationship Element:
I learned that there are a few things that a CEO can not delegate and ultimately have to rely on myself to ensure these ‘missions’ are put forward and carried out:
1. Build a kick-a$$ leadership team and ensure they work well together
This was my main goal from my first day as part of the company. Joining as a CEO of an early stage company meant accepting the current management team, but also requiring some necessary changes, hirings and promotions. I’m glad to say that we succeeded as we achieved a management team that could work together, evolve as a unit and ensured the best and most clear path forward for our employers, partners and customers.
2. Create Purpose and Alignment
Simon Sinek talks about WHY we do the things we do, and not just about the WHAT and HOW we do things. Not only is it important for us to have a WHY as a company, but establishing and connecting the human factor of the WHY to our employees creates purpose and alignment between everyone, ensuring the belief that we are here to build something great together. This is something that we worked hard to build within the past year ensuring transparency, cross-functional and departmental communication and corporate goals as well as having fun together – something that is just as important as any other financial or technology goal.
3. Nurture and Foster Company Culture
Company culture is the key factor that separates a good company from a great company. I spent over 13 years as a key part of CyberArk, and one of the main things I took away from working alongside industry leaders like Udi Mokady and Chen Bitan, was to invest in the company culture and hire beyond the role itself. I value being included in our hiring process and gaining as much feedback from my team as possible. I strive to have different opinions, personalities, skill levels and ultimately fresh eyes looking at everything we do. Your most valuable resources are your people & culture- with them you move mountains and change things for the better, so never compromise on those two things. While we have worked very hard in the past 12 months and through very tough challenges, I vowed not to forget the fun aspects of a start-up and ensuring we carry through with our regular fun activities including happy hours (or virtual happy hours in recent months), holiday perks (check out our social media pages for the fun things we’ve been doing!), wellness check-ins to support our community and the mental well-being of our team.
Establishing & Driving Our Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy
Joining a startup in the initial period of sales means you have no time to click pause and learn your sales cycle. Let’s be honest- I’d rather jump in and learn and align as I go anyways :-). Looking back to where we were in our GTM a year ago, and where the company is today, it is just unbelievable in how we’ve grown, tracked success and improved for a more clear path forward. A year ago, people were still unaware of the Magecart and Formjacking attack vector, and even less familiar with who Source Defense was. Through the hard work of our Sales and Marketing teams, today you meet with more and more CISOs and Digital Transformation Officers that are not only aware of this threat and the damage it brings, but also acknowledge Source Defense as the market leader and only real-time prevention solution in the marketplace. In addition, our Product and R&D team have continued to be aligned with the needs of the growing and ever changing market demands and never cease to amaze me with their evolutionary processes and technology to support our GTM.
Our GTM success includes several highlights:
- Partnering together with some of the largest organizations around the world in the eCommerce, Financial, and Healthcare markets.
- Working together with leading channels to support our GTM
- Being recognized as the market leader and top company to follow in 2020 by organizations like Forbes, 451 Group, and Global CyberTech100.
- To have remarkable quality and quantity of attendees on our webinars – especially our recent Retail and Hospitality ISAC webinar.
Empowering Trust & Value
A company’s growth requires the trust of all people involved – those within the company, our management team and staff, but it also requires that we get the continuous trust of our current investors. In our case, during the past year we have managed to attract and gain the trust of Capital One Ventures, who together with the continued support of our leading investors JVP, Allegis Cyber, NightDragon, and Global Brain participated in our financial round closed earlier this year in March.
But even with all this trust – the main trust has been shown by our customers. Our success with several Fortune 500 customers and notable global household brands has shown that what we are doing is solving a problem and people are entrusting their companies and reputation with Source Defense. Our VICE Platform is currently protecting many websites from Magecart and Formjacking attacks and is key to establishing a safer web for all in the future.
In a typical and regular summary of 12 months – we could have ended here – but the beginning of 2020 has been NOTHING close to being regular or typical. Building a startup is always difficult, but to do so through a pandemic like COVID-19 – is not something any current CEO could say he had experience with. This was new to all of us and we had to adjust and adapt on the fly, align and work hard to ensure we had a clear path forward and that everyone was healthy, safe and had the environment and skills to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.
The COVID-19 has also created a big change in our GTM and with our customers. With the shift from brick and mortar to the heavy dependence of online retail, many of our prospects and customer’s online business has doubled or even tripled during this period. The acknowledgement that the number of Magecart attacks were growing resulted in high growth in demos, opportunities, and quick deployments – several of whom faced attacks themselves and wanted to ensure they were protected moving forward. In addition, it cannot go unmentioned that all of the above quickly pivoted to an entirely virtual sales cycle through Zoom – with no sales travel and on-site meetings.
It’s crazy to think only 12 months have passed and I know many more months of work and fun lie ahead. While still in the midst of COVID-19 my role as CEO has only just begun as I ensure our team remains strong and continues to grow. I know our customers are in great hands and value the dedication from our team and what our solution brings to the table. As we accelerate towards the high growth model, my vision remains clear – maintaining our market leadership in this very important aspect of client-side website security and taking good care of the people making this company possible.