Market, talents, products vital for startups: Illumio CEO

Updated: 2018-04-14 06:19

By Edith Lu in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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Market opportunities, talents and products are the three most important items on a startup company's initial list of attributes, a cybersecurity entrepreneur told the 2018 Internet Economy Summit on Friday.

"When you marry these three things up and get the mix right, it will become a very strong foundation to potentially build a company on," said Andrew Rubin, chief executive officer of Illumio - a network security firm based in Silicon Valley, California.

Rubin and his co-founder set up Illumio in 2013, helping companies to upgrade securely and keep their customers' data and information safe.

The company built a software platform which deploys segment computers to prevent hackers gaining access to large networks by compromising a single machine.

"Cybersecurity has always been a problem and something that companies and the governments care deeply about," noted Rubin.

When he tried to interest investors, Rubin stressed that their industry offered many opportunities, and that he and his colleagues had good ideas about how to start and develop a company.

Rubin believes that when people start a company, they should concentrate on the idea or "story" they are going to tell investors. They need to explain why their company deserves funding - as initially they have no products, customers, revenue or financial statements.

"When the company matures and begins to sell the products to customers, the story then starts to transition into performance. In other words, once you generate your first dollar of revenue, the conversation after that is how much more you are going to generate in future," added Rubin. "With a big market of opportunities, if you execute well, you should be building a company that is sustainable and valuable over time."

Market, talents, products vital for startups: Illumio CEO

He reckoned cybersecurity is an industry which will always be important and relevant. In the last few years, it has become more and more prominent.

"The industry attracts more attention and awareness, which is obviously an opportunity for us to interact with customers and organizations - to even potential team members," he said.

Illumio has experienced four rounds of financing in the past five years. It raised $125 million during the recent round led by JP Morgan Asset Management last year, for expanding into new markets.

Rubin admitted the Series D funding is important, as network security problems are widespread across industries.

He said his company has also set up an office in Sydney, Australia which leads expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. They have also put a team in Singapore and spend a lot of time in Hong Kong - as they expect to need more staff here.

"We spend quite a bit of time here meeting potential customers. We are receiving the type of positive reactions we would hope for.

"All of these lead us to believe that we will have a presence in Hong Kong on the ground sooner rather than later."

The startup now has about 100 customers including Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas and Salesforce.

(HK Edition 04/14/2018 page9)