The future of cybersecurity product development relies on having a good idea, and the networking skills to get good feedback, customers and employees.
Speaking at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, CA Veracode CTO Chris Wysopal spoke on the ideas needed to start a company. Admitting that he was a “geeky kid” who later moved into software development, doing a computer engineering degree and vulnerability research, he said he was able to join local networks in the Boston, Massachusetts area by joining bulletin boards.
This later led him to join the working group L0pht, who were called to testify to the Senate in 1998 “and we took the leap and did the best job we could and took the opportunity and glad we did it.”
The theme of Wysopal’s talk was around networking though, and the need to overcome the comfort zone of not talking to people. He likened it to exercise “as it takes work and when you do it, you feel glad of it.”
He said: “If you start a company you need to know people, and you have to convince them to work for you. You need to meet them and see if they can work with you, and networking is critical if you want to start a company and meet people who are not exactly like you, such as developers and sales people. Not all security people.”
In terms of starting a company, he said that regardless of age, “if you have the urge to do it, go for it and be prepared to work on it for five, six or seven years and the best thing is to talk to people, find pitch challenges, apply to incubators and apply as you learn something from the application process and if it is rejected, ask why.”
Finally, in networking advice, Wysopal said that you need to talk to potential customers, and get feedback from customers and knowledgeable investors.
As well as identifying a niche idea to invent, he also recommended delegates look at getting along to local conferences, and take the leap of speaking at a small event and sharing knowledge. “That is what science is, and I urge you to try it.”