OpenSecurity. Making Cybersecurity Accessible.
If there's one subject we love at Growth Rocket, it's entrepreneurs and how they got to where they are. We like learning about their processes and how they've developed them. Effectively, we're trying to share the keys to their success. Recently, we've noticed a growing trend in entrepreneurs coming from military backgrounds. Organisations like x-forces.com are committed to facilitating service leavers in starting their own businesses and it would appear that a high percentage of them go on to be very successful. Having served in the RAF myself, I'm interested in learning more about this trend, and was excited to get the opportunity to interview Michael L Pleasant, CEO of OpenSecurity. Michael is a veteran of the US Marines, and the rest of the staff are also veterans. Texas based OpenSecurity specialises in Cybersecurity and has exhibited great growth since it was founded. I was interested to learn what part their military backgrounds had played. We'd like to say a huge thanks to Michael for taking the time to share his insights with us.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Growing up, I had an interest in systems and processes. It never occurred to me to be an entrepreneur until the founding team of Open Security offered the chance to fill the role of CEO. Doing so has allowed me to build my own Frankenstein of interconnected systems and watching that construct enable a team to succeed profitably has been incredibly addicting.
Can you describe OpenSecurity in a single sentence?
Open Security, Inc. is a US Military Veteran owned and operated cybersecurity services provider with a singular mission for its global business clients, large and small alike: "Make Cybersecurity Accessible."
Can you tell us about the founding of the company?
Open Security, Inc. was founded five years ago by a small team of cybersecurity veterans who wanted to bring the knowledge and experience gained while serving in the US military to the private sector. Prior to its founding, we saw many examples of cybersecurity firms peddling low quality assessments and lacking any real standards. We wanted to combat these trends internal to the industry and simultaneously combat the numerous external threats businesses face everyday.
Can you tell us about how the company has grown since it was founded?
Instead of seeking investor funding, we chose to bootstrap the business and build it from the ground up. We've successfully doubled our revenue every year for the last five years and are very excited to see where the next five take us. We're actually about to achieve a key milestone beginning January, 2020. All full-time employees and their dependents will have access to the company's new comprehensive medical benefits package. We believe in heavily reinvesting in the company to continuing fueling our growth rate.
Instead of seeking investor funding, we chose to bootstrap the business and build it from the ground up. We've successfully doubled our revenue every year for the last five years and are very excited to see where the next five take us. We're actually about to achieve a key milestone beginning January, 2020. All full-time employees and their dependents will have access to the company's new comprehensive medical benefits package. We believe in heavily reinvesting in the company to continuing fuelling our growth rate.
What challenges have you faced in growing the business? How have you overcome these challenges?
Being a fully remote business can be especially challenging for communication, coordination, cohesion, and culture. Although we have the luxury of modern technologies to connect us, we have to exert an immense amount of effort to ensure we are communicating effectively. This is not only true project-to-project, but also from a company wide leadership-to-individual level. Conducting frequent checks to ensure team members have what they need to succeed in their regular tasks and also to maintain personal connections to ensure morale and a healthy work-life balance.
What are you most effective tactics for finding new customers?
We've found event attendance, giving presentations on new topics of research, and teaching classes to industry peers to be invaluable opportunities to make meaningful connections with potential clientele. Putting faces with names, shaking hands, and sharing mutual experiences is growing increasingly important as it becomes more rare.
Data security must be one of the most important and rapidly evolving industries of our time. How do you keep up with the constant changes?
It's tough! Everyday there are new vulnerabilities being discovered or exploited, new data breaches occurring, or some new technology that promises to change everything. We rely heavily on our network of partners and the collective knowledgebase of the industry who all share in the belief that our industry functions best when that information is available to all.
What advice do you have for anyone thinking of starting their own SaaS business?
While I wouldn't consider us a SaaS business today, I would stress that anyone interested in starting one fully understand the use case for their product. The cloud-based SaaS arena already feels saturated and while that doesn't mean better offerings can't appear, fully understanding your target market cannot be understated. Too often we see well intentioned entrepreneurs invest themselves in a product before discovering whether or not there's a market for it.
What does the future hold for OpenSecurity? Where do you see the business in five years?
The traditional model of expansive enterprise services has thus far criminally underserved smaller businesses who have just as much need to protect themselves but can't afford nor make effective use of things like Penetration Tests. Over the last several years, we've dedicated considerable R&D to solving this problem by building a platform that allows these types of businesses to easily access and interface with our offerings while also allowing our engineers to more efficiently deliver. The end result is a product customers can actually use at a price point that is actually affordable.
For any business that's interested in helping us with beta testing, it starts with requesting a free external vulnerability scan directly from our website. From there, customers to make data driven decisions about their cybersecurity rather than feel like they're blindly shooting from the hip.
Growing and running a business can be hard. Is there someone who you find inspires you and helps to keep you motivated?
My partner and CTO Matthew Toussain is a constant source of inspiration and motivation. A lot of what I do is an attempt to keep up with him and his unwavering work ethic. Serving as a catalyst for him and the entire team to do what they do best is extremely rewarding.
There is a growing realisation that service leavers make excellent entrepreneurs and business leaders. Can you tell us how your military experience has influenced you?
As a former US Marine, I have the privilege of volunteering my time to teach entrepreneurship to transitioning servicemembers along with our local SBA (Small Business Association) office. During the class, we focus on the kinds of hard and soft skills members of the military naturally acquire that translate well to entrepreneurship. For example, resiliency in the face of repeated failure, learning from that failure, and continuing to iterate is something both servicemembers and successful entrepreneurs have in common. Another would be our ability to clearly define our mission for a given operation and remain laser focused on achieving it.
Finally, can you tell us about a typical day at OpenSecurity HQ?
Our team is given an immense amount of freedom in choosing how to spend their work day. While there may be scheduled meetings or deadlines to meet, the specific ways in which tasks are completed is left up to the individual. We feel this is important to promote innovation in areas of the company they feel could be improved. It also provides the team with a sense of real ownership within the company and how we conduct ourselves day to day.
Learn more about OpenSecurity: