Mark Felegyhazi, CEO and co-founder of Avatao tells us how they generate real-life scenarios of security best practices for development and security teams.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mark Felegyhazi: Thanks, we are doing great. We do all we can to isolate ourselves, and my kids have strict rules to be protected in school. In terms of work, nothing has changed. I was working with my team in Hungary remotely before, and I kept doing it.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Avatao.
Mark Felegyhazi: I’m the CEO and co-founder of Avatao. We started the company back in 2014 as a pet project, but real business development began in 2017. Since then, we have developed a loyal customer base in Europe, and they are gradually expanding to the US.
How does Avatao innovate?
Mark Felegyhazi: Security training is traditionally lacking from computer science education. Because of that, developers usually consider security as a necessary evil they have to overcome as fast as possible. We are spreading the word that security is an essential quality requirement that every developer should consider to build high-quality software products. We are offering a hands-on learning platform that has job-relevant coding exercises for developers. This way, companies can easily cover their basic training needs all the way to full security programs.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Mark Felegyhazi: Naturally, we had some impact of the coronavirus on the business. Unfortunately, budgets for potential customers have been decreased, so our lead generation and sales pipeline became much more difficult to maintain. At the same time, we are lucky to have loyal customers who kept our service even in the middle of this pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Mark Felegyhazi: We were committed to keeping our employees in spite of the tough times. Naturally, our job became more difficult, and this resulted in some turnover. Yet it also crystallized our mission and whoever stayed on the team showed amazing qualities.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Mark Felegyhazi: We typically have midsize to Enterprise customers. Because of that, customer success is a very important part of our business operations. I must say that the attention and care of our customer success team really made a difference during these pandemics, and most of our major customers have renewed their contracts. If you have set up strict onboarding procedures and regular contact to make sure our customers get the most value from our learning platform.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Mark Felegyhazi: We have applied to payroll protection grants in both the US and Hungary. Those benefits help us to stabilize our cash flow.
Your final thoughts?
Mark Felegyhazi: The pandemic represented tremendous challenges to every business. For us, it does not only mean negative facts but also some opportunities to change for the better. We significantly streamlined our product offering and shifted our marketing activities from events and conferences to fully digital marketing because of the pandemic. In the end, this made our business much more robust and scalable.
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