A Kiwi playbook on going from IT inspiration to a global digital business
- 14 June, 2016 08:30
You have to take the punt when you can prove your Kiwi technology will sell globally.
“The Kiwi two-degrees of separation is utterly gold dust,” says Andy Prow, CEO and co-founder of RedShield Security.
RedShield provides ‘security as a service’ and Prow is currently focusing on taking on customers across the globe.
“We are literally entering the next phase of RedShield,” says Prow, whose company won the innovation category at the inaugural CIO100 awards in New Zealand.
“We have proved the technology in New Zealand. We now have a first set of large international customers. It is now time to replicate and expand.”
He is working with the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Beachheads’ programme, which helps Kiwi enterprises enter overseas markets, and also engages with KEA, the global online expat community of Kiwis.
“We can arrive in London, and we will know someone who knows someone,” he says on the vital connections these networks can bring.
He does not name the customers due to commercial confidentiality, but states these are in the UK and the United States, where they are also setting up subsidiaries.
To scale to that level, the company has found strategic partners for both locations.
“While finding the perfect customers, we have to find the perfect delivery partners at the same time,” says Prow.
Help your customers understand their ROI with you every day. This is critical for a SaaS offering, where most customers can turn you off in 30 days.
Overseas, he describes RedShield as a New Zealand company. “We are still a Kiwi business and I use the trusted brand of entrepreneurial Kiwis.”
But before taking the product global, “We utterly made sure the New Zealand operations were running beautifully. I have to be confident with the team here in New Zealand that we can start our global business, without disrupting what we already have.”
Prow underscores the importance of moving fast, and to do this the company had to back its own initial trips overseas. They met with prospective customers - who also became their first international customers - during these trips, and continued the conversations remotely.
“Too often we have the strategy nailed down perfectly before we leave. For me, that was too slow,” he states.
“Sometimes you need to back what you are doing, make the jump and see where it goes. You have to take the punt when you can prove your Kiwi technology will sell globally.”
Spotting a global opportunity
He says RedShield works to shield high-value, vulnerable web-apps and websites from attack.
“It is a world-first service to be targeting 100 per cent vulnerability mitigation, using its unique ability to be able to create individual shields for every security flaw that exists in our customer’s apps,” Prow claims.
As a concept, RedShield was an innovation born in 2012, on the back of the RedEye business he and his partners founded in 2009.
RedEye as a system, scanned websites and web-apps looking for security flaws.
“However, many of our customers were unable to fix these flaws rapidly, if at all,” he explains.
Some of the reasons for not fixing their flaws included lack of knowledge, no access to the source code or, most commonly, issues found in older systems that no longer had a budget to enable a fix.
Timing was an issue even for customers with the skills and budgets, he points out. “Often, it takes weeks or months to fix security flaws - whereas hackers can create exploits in days.”
“What the market really needed was an effective, immediate defence option,” he says.
“This was not a NZ only problem, but a global opportunity.”
Choose the road to success
The first phase of success or failure was to create RedShield v1.0 as a hardware and software platform locally, says Prow.
In 2013, two pilot customers came on board. Both of them had more than 100 public-facing vulnerabilities, some of which were critical.
“Within days of shielding, both customers were brought down to zero issues,” he says.
“The key benefits we achieve for our customers are an immediate defence layer on their highest value online assets,” he states. “We also give them full visibility of attacks that they come under, with correlation on the likely success and impact of the attacks if RedShield was not in place.''
In November 2015, RedShield was also awarded a position on
the New Zealand Government’s Telecommunications-as-a-
Via TaaS, RedShield will become a key provider to Government for secure application publishing services, protecting its websites and applications from attacks and privacy breaches, across both internal networks and those publicly available.
Object lessons for tech entrepreneurs
For CIOs taking on a major project that could provide new services or revenue streams, Prow advises to start with this concept: “Understand your customer's problem deeply.”
“With every release of your system, ask, ‘Does this actually provide what they need'?”
It is also important to have a mechanism to constantly measure and report on your success and value to your customers, he states.
“Help them understand their ROI with you every day. This is critical for a SaaS offering, where most customers can turn you off in 30 days,” says Prow.
“If you and your customers can not easily define and see your ROI, then you have a long-term problem.”
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