A cybersecurity industry veteran, Praveen Singh is the co-founder and Chief Information Security Advisor at CyberPWN Technologies, a digital defense consulting firm. In this interview with Help Net Security, he offers insight for anyone interested in building their own cybersecurity consultancy.
You have experience across a variety of cybersecurity roles. What motivated you to co-found a company?
Building or co-founding a company requires a leap into the unknown, but also significant amounts of fortitude, dedication, drive, and passion.
I have always been interested in how people and human behavior play a key role in creating a safe digital world. I co-founded CyberPWN to find a solution to a very concerning problem and to put to use the skills I acquired working in the field of cybersecurity. I was able to produce a platform that is capable to accommodate developments in cybersecurity along with the changes in the market and the threat associated with it. CyberPWN is a complete cybersecurity awareness platform accompanied by a conscious effort to change the way people perceive the problem.
And, to be honest, another driving factor was that the cybersecurity industry is not as heavily impacted by negative global economic changes – along as you keep up with the new threats, you will always find work.
What obstacles did you encounter while establishing and building CyberPWN Technologies?
Every business faces obstacles. Even before founding CyberPWN, I have always jumped at opportunities and worked hard to thrive. After all, the most intriguing things happen when you leave your comfort zone.
I have always been interested in cybersecurity. I oftentimes worked for 15 hours straight to fix things, but that did not deter me from the entrepreneurial path. While some days I had to work a lot, there were other days when I would work for as little as half an hour, because I didn’t know yet what my next step should be. In the beginning, I struggled to keep up with the unexpected fatigue, but the desire to achieve was always motivating.
The other obstacles were the financial challenges, the challenges related to hiring a perfect team, and those related to understanding the competition and controlling and managing both existing and new markets.
As a first-time entrepreneur, I did now know everything there is to know about running a cybersecurity business, and that lead to costly blunders that could have been avoided. I also had to deal with a lot of demands on my time and energy. I had to take in as much information as possible, particularly about the industry I was entering, the customers I was aiming to impress, and the competitors I faced.
I also had to educate myself in critical areas such as finance, marketing, and sales by reading business advice websites, attending events, joining business groups, and seeking mentors. It takes a lot of effort to build a business, so you must be very motivated and energetic. Being self-assured is also a big plus.
What makes CyberPWN Technologies different?
CyberPWN is a cybersecurity consultancy / advisory firm. With our extensive experience in the field of cybersecurity and consultative approach, we partner with global clients, start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies, aiding them in their cyber transformation journey and helping them achieve strategic business objectives.
People, technologies & processes are three critical aspects of any organization. Rapid changes in the technology space keep pushing organizations to think twice before they invest. These are strategic investments and can’t be compromised. But often organizations struggle with time and resources to conduct a proper validation of technologies they want to implement. Our experts help them decide which cybersecurity solutions are the right fit for their needs.
We have a vendor-agnostic approach, and we always provide a fair scorecard, which pivots around their critical business requirements, regulatory needs, and risk mitigation strategies. We don’t just help them select the right technology, but also help them implement it effectively. Our product SMEs analyze the need, design solutions according to the use-cases, and roll it out for enterprise-wide usage. Our “Technology Solution” service has complete coverage of the product implementation life cycle, starting from product selection to product maintenance.
When you look back at the last few years, what business lessons stand out?
Here are a few of the lessons I have learned:
Celebrate smaller milestones. Celebrate each time you reach any of the goals and you’ll feel a surge of energy overwhelming you, acting as a motivating factor to keep moving forward, even if the ultimate result is years from now.
Prepare for the worst. After the first few goals are achieved, entrepreneurs start to see the entire world through rose-tinted glasses and fail to prepare themselves for possible setbacks. It’s also good to have a legal professional on speed dial, just in case you need a few questions answered or a few issues fixed.
The success won’t happen overnight It’s a cliché, I know, but young entrepreneurs still can’t seem to comprehend the fact that big success will not come pouring in just a few months after they start their business venture. Many factors influence what the outcome will be and when the ultimate goal will be achieved – the type of business, the industry you operate in, the size of the company, investment capital, etc.
Mistakes must be acknowledged Although it’s easier to place the blame on others or the situation you find yourself in, often the truth is that you had the chance, but you just didn’t play your cards right. The sooner you accept your mistakes, the easier you’ll move on and come up with a new and improved business plan.
What initiatives are you taking to grow your company? How do you plan to keep the momentum going?
Keeping the momentum going in business can be difficult, especially when my team is tired and running out of motivation.
I would say to sustain your business’s momentum, you must think back to why you started your company in the first place. Chances are that you had a passion for your business and helping others.
To keep my company moving forward, I always set business goals to work towards. I commit to my goals, keep myself accountable, and set hard deadlines. To keep my team’s drive going, I celebrate small and big victories.
A big part of your business’s success is your team. Without my team, CyberPWN wouldn’t be where it is at today. So along with celebrating victories, I make sure that I show some love, too.
Challenges are all a part of running a business. I knew when I signed up for this whole “starting a business” thing that there would be hurdles along the way. But it’s how I react to those challenges that impact my business’s success and momentum.
What advice would you give those who dream of starting their own company?
To be successful, an entrepreneur must be resilient. Any comment that runs along the lines of “That’s not possible,” or “That can’t be done” should be treated as a challenge to prove the speaker wrong.
An entrepreneur needs to have the ability to see through what’s not important. Entrepreneurs don’t just need money – they also need support in the form of encouragement and advice. I would advise budding entrepreneurs to attend meetups within their industry or local community and seek out online support via forums and groups.
You’ll be surprised just how willing others will be to help and offer advice for free. Asking questions, getting reassurance and sanity checks from peers can be invaluable at all stages of your businesses journey. There will always be someone a little further down the path you’re taking.
Starting a business can be exhilarating, rewarding and fun, but can be exhausting, relentless and stressful in equal measure. Just like any endeavor, taking advice from those who have already made mistakes and achieved their own successes despite setbacks is a sure-fire way to minimize the risks of lessons being learned the hard way.