Brian Fritton is the founder of Havoc Shield, which is a cybersecurity program as a service where he brings the founder’s perspective to cybersecurity in an increasingly complicated and risk-filled environment.
Brian has built products and led engineering, design, and IT teams at companies with credentials such as Fortune’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies, the Inc. 5000 List, and Entrepreneur’s 100 Most Brilliant Companies.
Most passionate about
- I built Havoc Shield, which is a cybersecurity program as a service. It helps you holistically protect your business from attacks as well as win new business with security-conscious customers like government organizations or larger enterprise businesses.
- At the beginning of 2020, we went through an accelerator called Techstars and, about this time last year, raised a $1.5 million round. Right now, we are selling primarily into financial services but really our goal is to protect other founders and small business owners.
Brian’s career and story
- I’ve always been a little bit of a nerd, I guess. I taught myself how to program. I was very fortunate to have a computer pretty early as a child and taught myself how to design websites and to program. I was always very interested in the security side of things.
- I had a website design and development firm that was doing other websites for small businesses. Through that, I learned how to manage clients, price my products, manage my time, and all of that sort of stuff.
- Most recently, I started a startup with my brother called Patch of Land, which was a real estate crowdfunding investment business. We took the Kickstarter model of investing fractions, little small amounts and larger projects, and applied that to giving normal people the ability to invest in real estate. We recently sold that business and I moved back to Chicago from Los Angeles, where I was at the time.
- I took a job with a data science software maker in Chicago. They work very heavily in the political space. When I came on as the VP of engineering, I quickly inherited it and got put in charge of cybersecurity in front of the midterm elections in the States in 2018.
- Trying to put together a professional cybersecurity program that would protect us and help us win new customers was a really difficult thing to do. I left that job and started Havoc Shield.
Best advice for entrepreneurs
- For a while, we were trying to sell to what I would call Main Street businesses—less technical companies. We explored very technical startups, but more broadly than any one industry and a couple of other things.
- Don’t be afraid to narrow. You want your business to grow and do more. I think the fastest and highest-quality way is by focusing first on a smaller group of people who will love your product and represent your product, whom you can speak very clearly to.
The biggest, most critical failure with customers
- In businesses in the past, I’ve certainly spent less time than I should have on listening to people whom I want to solve a problem for—understanding how painful the problem that I think I’m solving is for them and what problems they have that are related to it and that may actually be more top of mind for them. Without listening carefully, without interviewing people whom you’re trying to serve, it’s very difficult to build the right thing. And that is how companies die.
Biggest success with customers
- The managed plan is driven by our internal client success team, which uses a very well-oiled, well-designed playbook for how to use our tools inside other people’s businesses to reduce their risk of an attack or, if one happens, the impacts of it, and help those customers who don’t have time to do a lot of those activities. We built a plan through which, in a couple of meetings, every few months, we can take those actions for them using our existing tool and take security as a responsibility, more or less, completely off their hands. This is a big win for us because our customers said, “Absolutely, this is something that keeps me up at night.”
Brian’s recommendation of a tool
- Email sequences inside HubSpot
- Our CRM
- Other CRM that has a similar functionality
Brian’s one key success factor
- I have to say writing. As businesses realize the benefits of hiring people in other locations and having more remote teams, the importance of being clear in your goals and in your communication is really, really high.
Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, I want to ask you: Is there a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed?
- My story would be in the balance of work and as an entrepreneur, to really climb that peak. I could absolutely predict that if we hadn’t taken some of that time to be in nature, to give ourselves time away from the computer to take a drive and see this, the next week would have been so much less productive. We would have been much more at risk of burning out, of not being able to go on any longer.
- In that analogy of having to climb down to go up to the peak, it’s so important that entrepreneurs take the time to maintain their balance in life and treat their bodies right, treat their minds right.
The best ways to connect with Brian
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