Red-Team Security: Dave Hewson
Founder Dave Hewson on how he started his ethical security testing and consultancy firm.
Company name: Red-Team Security Limited Website:http://www.red-team.co.uk/ Founders: Dave Hewson Age: 34 Based: North Yorkshire Staff Numbers: 2 + Freelance Date started: March 2007
Tell us what your business does
Red-Team provides independent, ethical security testing and consultancy services to a range of small and medium sized companies in the private and public sectors. Using a team of experienced ‘ethical hackers’ we aim to protect a business and minimise its exposure to malicious attacks.
We also work with website development companies to help them design and build secure websites as finding potential vulnerabilities early reduces the cost and impact of an attack.
How did you know there was a market for it? Having worked as freelance consultants in the sector for some time, we realised little is being done to implement good security processes and principles early in the development process. Internet sites and web applications need to be secured prior to being launched; our competitors are helping companies address the issues when it’s too late. What were you doing before you started up?
I have worked in the technology services market as a consultant or freelance since leaving university. For me, starting Red-Team was about using my existing knowledge, skills and experience to create something new and give others the opportunity to work in an exciting, fast moving, technology-driven market.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I’ve always had an inner drive to create and run a business of my own. Being an employee and climbing a career ladder has never had much appeal. However, I have always understood the importance of gaining the necessary skills and experience first, which I could then apply to my own ideas.
What planning did you do before you started up?
We researched the internet security services market in the UK using a variety of sources. We also gathered material from the internet, Business Link, high street banks, Startups.co.uk and friends/colleagues. This was time well spent and gave inspiration to go on and create the business plan.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? One of the biggest challenges was making the business known. Having a great product or service is not enough – you need to actively market yourself and the business. Networking and using online forums is a great way to market a new business, as is word of mouth and referrals. I wouldn’t say we have overcome this challenge yet – but we are certainly improving the way we do things.
How much do you charge? How did you decide this?
This really depends on the nature of the project. We pride ourselves on making our services affordable to all businesses, regardless of size. Protecting a business from a hacking attack is more important to us than increasing our profit margin. We understand that small family businesses or start-up companies have limited funds.
What has your growth been like?
The growth of the business has been slower than we initially thought, mainly because we underestimated the amount of time it takes to research and understand the market, write a business plan and create the supporting processes/procedures needed to support the business.
What’s the impact on your home life been like?
Things are quite hectic at the moment, juggling family life, working as a consultant for a high profile client and growing the business. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, however, having an understanding and supportive family has eased the pain.
What was your first big breakthrough? Receiving a ‘thank you’ note and repeat business from our first client.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs? Go for it! Making the leap is the hardest part, keep looking forward, stay positive, follow a plan, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.