Rob Simopoulos of Defendify tells us how they make cybersecurity possible for small businesses.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rob Simopoulos: Overall, we are doing great. I have two teenagers at home, and It’s been a little hard for them, being in the house and limited time with friends. We assume that most teens live on their phones, but I think many teens are struggling with the lack of personal social interactions.
I have Canadian roots, and most of my family is up there. Not being able to visit them has been difficult, but we try to do video meetings to connect as much as possible. In an interesting turn of events, my family received our U.S. citizenship during the pandemic. Traditionally this is a big event with friends and family joining but unfortunately, due to COVID, we were not able to celebrate with them. We were thankful that we finally completed the journey to citizenship, and once the pandemic is over, we will plan a great party with everyone!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Defendify.
Rob Simopoulos: After studying security in college, I started my own security company out of Toronto, providing enterprise solutions to companies across Canada. After I sold my share in that organization, I moved to the U.S. to lead another security business with a head office in Maine. I’ve been in the security industry my whole life but was explicitly drawn to cybersecurity because I saw an excellent opportunity to help growing organizations with something that can be a complicated and overwhelming process. Navigating cybersecurity is complex, and many are left wondering, where do I even start? I really wanted to help companies solve that problem. With my business partner, Andrew Rinaldi, we built a team and started providing traditional cybersecurity consulting for companies, offering assessments, testing, and training. Things were growing well as we had acquired customers across the country, but one day we had an idea to build out a SaaS platform to deliver the solution rather than consulting. Andrew and I felt that if we did that, we could offer comprehensive cybersecurity to organizations worldwide more efficiently and in a more cost-effective way. As a result, we founded and built Defendify, the all-in-one cybersecurity platform.
How does Defendify innovate?
Rob Simopoulos: We operate the business using the methodology of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®). EOS identifies two key people inside the business: the Visionary and the Integrator. The Visionary introduces big ideas and various pathways for the business – that is my role. My business partner Andrew is the Integrator. Integrators pull ideas from the Visionary and put them into action across the company. Our philosophy with the Entrepreneurial Operating System includes valuable routines like a daily huddle, Level 10 Meetings where department leaders meet to discuss challenges, and Same Page Meetings where we practice transparency throughout the organization. This philosophy has really assisted in how we methodically innovate at Defendify.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Rob Simopoulos: As an entrepreneur of a startup and business owner, it was the uncertainty of the pandemic – what was going to happen? We looked at our own company and said, how can we help? Everyone was shifting to remote work, which from a cybersecurity standpoint, posed an increased cybersecurity risk to all organizations. We decided to release a free version of Defendify, known as the Defendify Essentials Package, that includes three of the modules within the Defendify platform: a Cybersecurity Assessment Tool, a Network Vulnerability Scanner, and the Threat Alerts System. These three tools help organizations gain overall visibility into data security vulnerabilities impacting people, processes, and technology and provides guidance on the next steps for remediation.
As a company, we decided to pivot to help businesses during this uncertain time. Ultimately, it was a great decision. The Defendify Essentials Package is now a key offering in the marketplace, which provides companies a starting point to access their security vulnerability.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Rob Simopoulos: Most companies faced difficult choices during these times. For us, a lot of decisions had to be made around expense control and budget planning, given the economic uncertainty of the pandemic.
The lesson that I learned is that entrepreneurs are resilient. It was amazing to watch as many businesses pivoted to adapt to the pandemic, offering alternative products and solutions. The bottom line is that you cannot stop entrepreneurs. They will find a way – always willing to shift, pivot, evolve, and adapt to the circumstances. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs know the outcome was devastating, but many others had figured out how to get through it.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Defendify in the future?
Rob Simopoulos: Being an entrepreneur, stress and anxiety come with the role. I was sharing with a friend how my mind is always at work, day and night. He suggested I try meditation, and it has changed my life. I now practice meditation once a day for twenty minutes and have my stress levels well managed.
In terms of the future, Andrew and I always think far ahead on where we want Defendify to be and which direction we want to go. Innovation comes with ideas, and we always are thinking about what is next, tracking them, and discussing them. We figure out what we want to do and what we need to do to make ideas a reality.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rob Simopoulos: Defendify is an all-in-one platform to seamlessly control and build cybersecurity strength. We compete against single-point solutions, but we are unique. We have a robust, automated solution with 13 cybersecurity modules designed for organizations without security teams to easily manage a comprehensive cybersecurity program. Defendify was built to be flexible and scalable, offering multiple plan options and the ability to customize as needed.
We stay in the game by listening to trends in the security community and feedback from our partners and customers. We obtain customer feedback, recommendations, and product enhancements through our Success Managers, who work directly in supporting our customers daily. This feedback is then compiled, tracked, and ranked by our team, which helps us drive product improvements and innovation.
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