If you're young and scrappy, try to find a leading expert in the field to partner withRead more...
It’s all about communication, honesty, and transparency
This week's startup teams profile is Defendify. Defendify is an all-in-one, SaaS-delivered cybersecurity platform designed specifically for small businesses. Defendify partners with channel resellers to offer a holistic solution in the most simplified product to help secure small businesses from existing and evolving threats.
Defendify was founded in 2017 by Rob Simopoulos and Andrew Rinaldi. Rob is a 20+ year veteran of the Security industry, successfully building and growing multiple businesses, and taking on various industry advisory and board roles. He is a frequent national speaker and thought leader on security and recurring revenue model strategies. Read more about Rob here.
Andrew brings 20+ years of experience in Digital Marketing, successfully developing multiple brands, products, and businesses. He delivers operational and strategic expertise, streamlining growth through the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) and agile methodologies. Read more about Andrew here.
Vatornews: How did your company together?
Andrew: Rob and I were talking about cybersecurity and exploring how we might protect the multiple small businesses we were running. When we looked around to see what help was out there, we found very little. It was either hire a high-end consultant for top dollar or, somehow try and work an enterprise level solution into your budget. We knew those weren’t real options for smaller organizations. We took it personally that absolutely nobody selling in the market cared. Then we asked ourselves, why doesn’t cybersecurity-in-a-box exist? Small businesses run on a stack of SaaS products for their financial, HR, operational needs, etc. needs. What about cybersecurity? We again looked around and found nothing. That’s when we knew what we had to do, we knew we had to build it.
Rob: We saw a major problem for the average small business operator where cybersecurity was challenging to understand and navigate. Many of them were hearing about their friend’s company getting hit with ransomware, or reading in their industry trade magazines about how having cyber protection in place was so important, but most of them just didn’t even know how to get started. We felt we needed to help these businesses by building a cybersecurity platform that they can use to help solve this problem.
Vatornews: What are the complementary skills you each bring to the table?
Andrew: I come from over 20 years in Digital Marketing and Web Development. I focus on developing our brand promise, enabling swift operational execution, and making sure things generally run smoothly and systematically.
Rob brings over 20 years’ experience in Security and industry thought leadership. He is our visionary, chalk full of big and bold ideas, moving quickly and preemptively, tackling large scale issues, and always selling.
Combined our unique balance of expertise, experience, intuition, style, and energy allows us to drive forward fast and with focus.
Rob: Andrew and I are a bit of Yin & Yang. Where I am throwing out ideas and moving quickly, Andrew is very methodical in his actions. I think it’s this dynamic balance that helps make us successful.
Vatornews: What are the characteristics/qualities you look for in a founding partner?
Andrew: I’ll start with taking attitude over aptitude. Yes, both are very much required, but the latter is much easier to find (or develop). When you’re getting started, nothing is more important than making sure founders are on the same page with their core values and the overarching vision.
Rob: Hustle and hard work come at the top of the list. Experience and skills can come with time and training, but hard work is engrained in an individual. To me, that is the top characteristic.
Vatornews: How do you make sure you don’t get on each other’s nerves?
Andrew: It’s all about communication, honesty, and transparency. If something is on your mind or is bothering you, don’t tuck it away and let it fester. We all tend to do it at times, but nothing good comes of that. You have to surface issues, discuss them candidly, and keep moving on.
Rob: Communicate openly and often. The more transparency in the partnership and the more you can keep your partner in the know of what is happening the better a relationship you will have. As founders, we meet formally once a week in a meeting to do just that. It is scheduled and rarely changed…never canceled.
Vatornews: What are some lessons learned about working together?
Andrew: Don’t take things personally. It can be hard to do, especially when the founders are the people in the room together spending seemingly endless amounts of time mulling over major issues. The reality is, while at times it may seem personal, ultimately you’ve got the greater good in mind and very little in business is actually personal.
Rob: I’ve seen and heard numerous horrors stories about business partnerships at other companies. I’ve learned that I am pretty lucky to have an amazing business partner to work with every day.
Vatornews: What’s your advice about teams and founding partners to entrepreneurs looking to start a company?
Andrew: Before you do anything else, I encourage you to clarify your core values, vision, and culture. Why start there? Because more than anything else, these are the things that drive alignment which is precisely what takes you farther, faster. Once you have that figured out, share it with the world so it’s clear who you are and how you intend to succeed. Then surround yourself with those who feel the same—founders, employees, partners, vendors, advisors, whomever. With the right focus and team around you, there isn’t much you can’t do.
Rob: There is more work in a startup that you can ever truly get done. Forget each other’s titles and focus on tasks. What needs to get completed? Who is going to do it and when? Getting strategic and nailing down what needs to get accomplished is a key. Remember that accomplishing the tasks are always a moving target, priorities may shift and you need to be agile in navigating that.
Read more from our "Startup Teams" series
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Defendify is an all-in-one, SaaS-delivered cybersecurity platform designed specifically for small businesses. Defendify partners with channel resellers to offer a holistic solution in the most simplified product with a single goal: to help secure small businesses from existing and evolving threats. The team works tirelessly to make cybersecurity simple and easy for channel providers and small businesses alike.