How My Uber "Career" Is Proving A Bonanza For Getting Cyber Security Contacts

Giulio Saggin
Giulio Saggin
Thursday 18 April 2024
How My Uber "Career" Is Proving A Bonanza For Getting Cyber Security Contacts
SecAlerts: Giulio Saggin

Like many cyber security services that have gone before us, SecAlerts is a bootstrapped startup.

We initially threw in a few hundred dollars each ($300, from memory) and are in the fortunate position of not having to put our hands in our pockets since, thanks to our global client base that includes government departments, universities and cyber insurers, which white-label SecAlerts as a preventative tool for their clients.

All three co-founders remain the sole employees and still hold day jobs. Our clients might be scattered around the world, but we remain in Brisbane, Australia, where SecAlerts was founded.

Thankfully our jobs are flexible enough to allow us the time to also be cyber security entrepreneurs. Two of us work in IT and the other one ... well, his non-IT "career" has inadvertently proven somewhat of a bonanza for potential leads and contacts in the cyber industry. He - me - is an Uber driver.

One of the things I love about Uber-ing is hearing the stories of those who get in my car. People going about their daily life makes for fascinating listening.

Not everyone is up for a chat, but for those willing to venture beyond "hello", the conversation usually gets around to "what do you do for work?"

Not surprisingly, in this online age, there are a lot of people working in IT and it's at these times I ask, "what exactly do you do", often followed by "anything to do with cyber security?"

My ears really prick up when the passenger goes straight to "I work in cyber security". It doesn't happen all the time but, when it does, I'm ready to pounce.

No sooner have they said this, then I am reaching for a business card and saying, "I'm a co-founder of a cyber security startup. Would you like to hear the 25-words-or-less spiel about what we do?"

Thankfully, everyone has said "yes / sure / okay". I guess none of them want to miss out on the next big thing.

During one such conversation in mid-2023 I handed the passenger a business card and he said: "I've heard of you guys. In fact, we were talking about you a couple of weeks ago." This was music to my ears!

That ride - it was a good fare, too - led to an initial meeting with "him", then lunch with him and the team, and now we're in the initial stages of a deal that will see SecAlerts used as a service within a cyber security company with wide reach.

Moving forward a few months, I once again heard those magic words "I work in cyber security". This was another good fare and, thanks to morning peak hour traffic, we had plenty of time to discuss SecAlerts and all manner of things cyber security.

Like us, "he" also once-upon-a-time had a startup. He'd gone one step further than us and had sold it to a much bigger fish in the cyber sea. He's been a CEO and now serves as a director on the boards of, among others, cyber security companies. We've met with "him" a couple of times since and he is happy to play somewhat of a mentoring role.

Earlier this week another passenger told me they worked in IT (Service Delivery Manager). It was early - 8am - and he was on his way into the office and hadn't had a coffee yet, so was still waking up. He said he dealt a little bit with cyber security and was happy to listen to what I had to say. It was a short fare, so I handed him a business card and launched into "spiel" mode.

The more I spoke, the more awake he became, then said, "I've asked the security teams of our biggest clients how they keep across vulnerabilities in their software. They've told me they keep track of those affecting their networks but there are too many other vulnerabilities to keep track of. SecAlerts sounds like it would be a great fit for what we need."

It's here that I am going to interject and give you the 25-words-or-less spiel about what we do (it's actually 35 words): SecAlerts matches vulnerabilities to clients’ software as soon as they are published by security researchers and vendors, instead of replying solely on the likes of NVD, which can have delays of several weeks.

Hearing the Service Delivery Manager say "would be a great fit" was a nice way to start my morning and a couple of hours later I sent him a Connect request on LinkedIn. Watch this space ...

SecAlerts is growing all the time and we have several good leads to follow up on, from numerous sources. We don't just rely on my Uber driving as a lead generator!

All three of us are working towards being on the SecAlerts payroll, and we're getting there. Even when that glorious time arrives, I might still Uber one day a week.

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