The Founder Formula
The Founder Formula

Episode 39 · 1 month ago

Chris Kirsch, Co-Founder runZero - Combining the arts of marketing and pickpocketing


This Founder has some surprising additional talents outside of founding a company that’s raised $20 million in VC funding to hunt for networked devices. After helping several start-up brands market their solutions, Chris Kirsch joined the founding team of runZero and is currently the company’s CEO. In addition to a fun round of “fact or fiction,” The Founder Formula co-hosts Todd Gallina and Sandy Salty talked with Chris about:

  • The evolution of a winning name for a company
  • Developing a culture
  • Mindful growth
  • Celebrating client wins  

Listen in to learn all of this and more on this episode of The Founder Formula with Chris Kirsch, Co-Founder of runZero. Additional episodes of The Founder Formula can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or the Trace3 website.

The Founder formula brings you in behind the curtains and inside the minds of today's brave executives at the most future leaning startups. Each interview will feature a transformative leader who's behind the wheel at a fast paced and innovative tech firm. They'll give you an insider's look at how companies are envisioned, created and scaled. We hope you're ready. Let's get into the show. Hey everybody, welcome back to the show. My name is Todd Galina and with me is the chief marketing officer A Trace three Sandy Salty. Hey, Todd, how are you doing great? Doing great? We've reached the end of the year. This is our final podcast for the year and you've been riding shotgun here for the last bunch of episodes. Uh does co hosting suit you? I think it's so much fun and UM love love partnering with you on this. You're you're like the co host. Ever, I would say the only thing that's a bit cringe e is just having to hear my voice like when we when I play it back, you know, sort of like seeing a video of yourself. For like, hearing hearing your voice back is always a little bit uncomfortable. Yeah, like in your head you're like, oh, my question was so great or my response was so well thought, and then you you listen to it and you're like, oh my gosh, all I did was like stumble over my own words for five minutes. I even speaking English. I don't know. You sound exactly the same when I'm listening to the podcast as you do here in the record studio. So well, either, well, thank you, and I apolishized at the same time. I'm but I'm not catfishing anybody. That's funny. Okay. So this next guests that we're having on this fellow talks about some crazy stuff. Um. He talks about seeing a psychic totally. He talks about big sucketing. So I have a question for you. Have you ever seen a psychic? I have not, have you? No? No, I'm scared of them. They're scary people. Like they got like the little thing on their head and and like the ball in front of them, right, that's what they do. I mean, yeah, the whole the whole concept is a little scary. Like being able to kind of I mean, whether it's real or not, but like seeing seeing into the future is a little scary. But the funny thing about this episode taught is that, like those topics like psychic and and pickpocketing, I feel very very far away from technology to me, like on one end of the spectrum you have like technology in science, and on the other end of the spectrum you have psychics. Yeah, psychics, magic. It's like in a science fiction movie. It's like for crazy things to happen, you either need like a ton of science or a ton of magic. And totally and what makes this founder so much fun is that he is well rounded, Like he's an incredible technology mind and frankly an incredible marketing mind as well, we've learned, um, but also like a super fun conversationalist, Like he's the kind of guy you want to invite to a to a party, to a dinner. Yeah. I mean, if you're sitting standing around people and you're like, hey, man, so I just got back from seeing a psychic, everyone's gonna want to hear what you're saying right where I spent months learning the art of pickpocketing everyone that story? Yeah, he was great. Um, So are you ready to get into it? Yeah, let's roll, Okay, okay, our guests as a passion for social engineering and open source intelligence tools. He earned the Black badge for winning the social Engineering Capture the Flag competition at def Con, the world's largest hacker conference. As a product market here, he made stops at PGP, Rapid seven, and Barcode. Most recently, he co founded run zero company bill to help enterprises solve their asset inventory challenges. I'd like to give a warm founder formula. Welcome to Chris Kersh. Chris welcome. Thank you for having me, and I'm honored to be a marketeer and not a marketer. It sounds much more fancy. I'm glad you're the one to point that out of one Chris, we'll start with the most important thing first. Please tell us about run zero and why you started it. Sure, So, run zero is a cyber asset management company, so that those are fancy words. Essentially, what we do is we help people understand what's connected to the network, so asset inventory I t ot SO operational technology anything from you know, IoT devices to manufacturing environments to healthcare um biomedical devices. We do that on premise, in the cloud, working from home and just getting giving you a really good overview of what's connected and The reason that's important is because you can't really start building a security...

...program before you have inventory, before you know what you have, right, So a lot of our customers just start with that and uh and and then build the security program or they're much further along actually in most cases, and then realize, oh, you know, we're we're missing a lot of stuff on our network and it's hurting us. Sure, how do you know You can't know how to protect something if you don't know that it's there, Yeah, correct, yeah, yeah, And so this is actually a problem that's been around for such a long time. My co founder is hd More, he's the creator of Metasploid, and we met a few years ago, quite a few years ago at Rapid seven. I was pretty about two thousand ten maybe and uh. He had just been acquired with the metasplayed project to join Rapid seven. They wanted somebody to take care of the go to market. It was the second product that the Rapids haven't brought to market after an exposed the vulnerability scanner. And so we started working together, and so Andri liked each other. And one of the things we kept her hearing from customers was, you know, all of these products you have are great, but we don't even know what we have on our network, right, And that was true then and it's still true today. And so um, you know, after we went separate ways, h D and I I went to Vera Code did product marketing for them, and he went off and did some pent testing and and some other things. And this really, you know, stuck in both of our minds. And he then actually sat down and said, all right, how do we solve this problem? Because it's still unsolved today when you think about it, when you talk to customers, then uh, they have an asset inventory. It's not that they have nothing, but the asset inventory they have is all their managed devices. It's the stuff that they get through through the d er agents or maybe through a vulnerability scan and so on. But number one, these kind of approaches aren't made for asset inventory. They don't give you the right data. And number two, they only tell you about your managed devices, so um devices that you can either install an agent on or log onto. And when you ask practitioners why they're worried about the asset inventory, it's the unmanaged devices, the stuff that they don't know about, that they don't have credentials for that they might not even be able to log onto like some some you know, logic controller on a on a floor or something else, the HVAC system, whatever it is, somewhere in the corner um. Those are the things that keep them up at night. Um. So HD took his expertise that he had from building metasploy where he and for you know, I'm not going to assume that everybody on the in your audience knows metasplays, so maybe I should just talk about that. So metasplod is a network penetration testing tool. It's an open source tool that pretty much every UH network penetration tester out there probably has in their tool set. And so when you when you pent test a network, you need to first figure out what's there, like where where devices are on the network, and then you need to fingerprint those devices so you know what they are and then you can start attacking them. So HD took that expertise of enumerating a network and then fingerprinting devices and applied that expertise two asset inventory. So he doesn't, you know, in the same sense that a pentester knows nothing about the network and doesn't have credentials run zero also starts out that way. And so this is the the the active scan that we started out with. And then now we're layering a lot of a lot more stuff on top of that. So integrations with your Vallence scanners, with the d R, with your UM active directory, with your Google UM, Google Suite and so on Google workspace, it's not called and all of that gives you a really rich inventory of all the stuff that you have everywhere. That's a that's an awesome overview. Thank you so much. We want to switch gears with you, Chris, and we ask you to indulge us in a little game of factor fiction. Are you Are you up for the challenge? I think I'm hearing now, so I guess I am. Yeah. I would love to. Um. Okay, so factor fiction, Chris. Run zero was not always called run zero, that is correct, That is fact. Yes, we started out with the name Rumble UM and so the this is a founder podcast, so I'll go back to the roots. So basically UM actually be or rumble.

It was called Critical Research Corporation. What's the company name? What's wrong with that? That's yeah, right? And then then HD said, yeah, we need a better marketing name and I and I found a name rumble. It means to search and it's kind of you know, good, you know, uh way to allude to the fact that we do active scanning and swan and I am able to get Rumble dot run, but not Rumble dot com. That's a different company, but you know, they have nothing to do with what we do. And the trademarks are clear, and so I'm like, okay, you know, like it's naming is really hard. Rumble is really good to remember. And this other site was a video hosting site, and I'm like, okay, there's no room for confusion there. So that's fine. There's other things that share the same trademark, like Dove ice cream and and Dove soap, and you know people don't confuse them or hopefully that because so there would be in for a surprise. And so I said, you know, like go ahead, and that was my first error in judgment, you know. And then this other website gained more and more attraction to the point that they decided that they were going to go public on the nastack and I thought like, now, um, that's not good because you know, you know, founder's dream is always like hey, maybe we'll be on the nastac one day, and you know, the chances of that are usually pretty slim if you look at the stats. But still, if another company is public on the nastack it's a tech company and so on, then you have a big a much bigger chance of confusion. So we wanted to sidestep that problem. And so we went out and looked for a new name. Um, that was a hard road to go down on because we wanted a dot com so we don't have the same problem again. We want to clean trademarks and so on. We also didn't want to spend too much money, so actually we should put this on the show notes. I wrote up a four part blog post yes on on exactly like how we did it and and the pitfalls and some of the tools and some of the techniques and song. So uh, not light reading. But if you are trying to name your company, um, that's why I put it together. That's why I put together the blog series. If you're trying to name the company as a founder or if you have to rebrand, I think hopefully might be some good tips for you in there. That is that's fascinating. So the four part blog is specifically around the efforts that you guys put into a new name for your company. Yes, yes, it walks you through exactly like the methodology, all the dead ends we we went into and troubles that we had and so on. It was it was very very painful, was very painful. We're very happy with a new name now. But I don't want to do this again. Yeah. No, Well you got to do it in in almost a two year window, if if I'm accurate, right, you launched Seen and then it Wow, I feel like we just gave Rumble dot com free advertisement. Yes, I don't know. Do you need video hosting? Yeah, so our companies run zero, not Rumble right, just for just for clarity, run zero because if you couldn't sure. Yeah. So you know, we had started out with active scanning, and we we had added more dimensions to the asset inmentory because people now also have you know, for a while, I've had um workloads in the cloud and they're working from home and like all of these things, and so if you want to get after those kind of assets, then integrations with cloud providers and integrations with security tooling and so on, it's really important. And so we felt that, uh, you know, a brand name that is just a connotation for search is no longer like you know, it's where we come from. It's a big differentiation, but it's not really the essence of what we do anymore. And so we wanted to talk about how how easy it is to get it up and running, how fast you get results and so on. So Run Zero kind of embodies that feeling. And uh, yeah, if you, for example, if you had started to you know, signed up for the trial um that we have on our website and started to scan your home network, which is where a lot of companies actually start, Like an individual downloads it and you know, tries it out on their on their home network, then brings it to work. If you started that at the top of the podcast, you probably would already have an idea of what's on the network right now because it's that quick and easy to set up. So we wanted to embody that in the name as well. Very cool. Well, I am about to ask you another factor fiction and I can bring this I have never asked in previous boundard of this question, and I suspect I will never ask this question again. Practrofition, you have a fascination with con artistry and even studied pickpocketing... some point. That is correct. Yeah, so I'm uh, you know, I'm trying to pick up all of the skills that you might see in your average heist movie. Um, it's kind of like a weird side hobby. And the pickpocketing. Um that started when my dad got pickpocketed next to me at on the on the metro in Paris, and I was there and I kind of had an idea of who it was, and but I didn't know, like, how are you supposed to react after that? How can you prove it? And then how do you prevent it? And that was quite interesting, but it's actually surprisingly hard. And then I got into another thing which was much more interesting, which is how do you actually pickpocket? And so I went down that route. I I found some resources, but not a ton, and I thought, hey, this would make a really fun talk for a security conference, so I signed up. I submitted an abstract to the Layer eight conference, which is you know, social engineers and and osan and so on. It's a fun bunch of people, not only the talks, but also to hang out with him over a beer and hear the stories and I decided I'd give a talk on pickpocketing because I've researched enough for theoretical talk. And this was the morning of rs A conference. I was flying in from the East coast and I got up early, wrote the abstract, and then went to the conference and I was walking up and down the aisles and there was a magician and I'm like, oh, I've got a couple of minutes. I'm going to stop and watch that magician. And he started to picktok with me, like oh, this is cool. So um. Afterwards, I I asked him when his show was over and I'm like, hey, I have a weird question, and you might not be comfortable answering this, but can you show me some resources on where I can learn this stuff? And he's like, oh, well, you know there's this and that and so on. But he was giving me like Joe Navarro body language kind of books and so on, like I've read those, but they're not really about pick pocketing, so like, give me the real stuff and he's like well, And then I asked him, do you want to go out for dinner tonight? I'll pay you for dinner, I'll pay you drinks, whatever, you, like, where are you? Like, I would just love to chat and he's like, well, I can't give up my name because of my agent. I told him like, but you're Rory from Dallas and your magician, right And he said yes, And I said, okay, I'll text you. And I just went around the corner and I found his number, texted and we texted back. We went out for dinner that night. It was a very cheap date. We went to the mall, to the food court at the mall, his choice, and he gave me all of these resources to research and um, yeah. I actually ended up giving the talk at Layer eight conference. Um I pick pocketed people live up on stage, which was a lot of fun. Explained the different techniques. If you want to watch that one that is a YouTube videos. I think if you search for Kerse pickpocketing, you poreably find it. Wow. Does everyone does everyone's? Is everyone's wallet in their back pocket? Is that a commonality? Or is no? No back pocket is Actually I find it a little bit hard for the back pocket. You kind of you can't just pull it out. You need to do it while people are moving. Um, and so the easiest is if you just like touch the corners on the side and uh. And then well I actually cover it in that in that in that video. It's a little bit hard in an audio medium to to portray that, to explain it, but essentially, you're you're touching somebody on the shoulder with your left hand and with your right hand goes into the back pocket and you're kind of like almost like gently nudging them aside. So the shoulder is the primary sensation that they feel, and when they start moving, that you know, frees up the wallet a little bit and you pull it out in the same move. And what they what they feel is you know, like almost like you're brushing up against them as you're walking past um, and you have less friction than if if you they're if they're just standing there and you try to pull it out. Oh my gosh, I might hide that on you later today. It's hard, you know. I I practiced for six months and never did it again. And it's also very hard to practice. So at the conference what we did is, uh, I handed out like a hundred fake wallets, like they were all bright green and and uh and so people could wear them and put on a sticker that says I consent to being pickpocketed, and then people went to town and actually did it for the for the entire day. It was it was pretty good fun. I mean. The interesting thing is like when you think about Kinada, roots of the security space and some of the most interesting sort of security experts in this world, you realize there is sort of a theme between. It's not really dark hearts is not the right way to describe it. It's really more of like the breaching, you know, the world the world of...

...reaching it yea, and the world of security are are obviously very tangential. Like you hear about some of the smartest security minds being former hackers. Yeah, there's a theme there for sure that you know, most most stories of like security issues that were found, it's just somebody sees something and they pull on a thread, you know, like the same way that I was standing next to my dad dad and he got pickpocketed. I could have just let it beat, but I couldn't write, and I just pulled on that. Like for example, my co founder when when he UH started fingerprinting all of these devices, like how do you get your hands on these devices? Right? And so he I think he actually has a like a scrappers license for for medical devices, so he can can directly buy all of the i T from He has a license to buy i T from hospitals uh at scrap value all of the bio medical devices and uh and and sanitize him and all that stuff. And he just uses that for fingerprinting though, right, So it's just a creative way of getting after the problem. And um and uh but we you know, we've scared that up a lot more, you know through um all of the data that we gather from from our free version. We've got a free version for under too under and fifty devices you can use it for free, and so people scan all sorts of random stuff and that feeds into our database trains our all. Right, we don't use machine learning, but it's use it for for accurate fingerprinting and for making sure that we don't have false positives and so on. It just gives us a really good data set that we could never build in a lab. Wow. Fascinating. Yeah. Um, So we've been on the podcast here for just a little bit, and I already have a three part a blog to read, which is and a video to watch in a video to watch and it's four parts. It's four parts very proliferate, okay, factored fiction. You never, in your wildest dreams thought you would be a founder? I didn't really, yeah, I um, I mean I played with the thought, but I always yeah, um it was Yeah, I played with the thought, but I was never really on on my absolute bucket list that I have to do this. Um. I was early in a company back in Germany where I I was number three and so on, so like, um, joining there, what do you mean third employee or third employee? Yeah, third employee, so you know, it's essentially like a founder position and in the sense that, yes, so early that you're helping to build um but yeah, yeah, I mean like the founder, like the the you always knew or you always didn't know you're gonna or you never thought it would be a founder is an interesting it's it's such an interesting question because you know, we I always wondered, like our our founders born or they need and there's there's always like there's always a story in the background. There's always a story of either you know, I have parents who are founders or what are some common views we've learned Todd Like, there's always there. We we knew it is there is. There is a pattern with UM, this concept of like turning crisis into opportunity, having a hard sort of youth that has transpired into like incredible ambition, amounts of ambition, you know. Sometimes it comes from a place where there's a product market fit. They know it better than anybody else, So why not me? Why not me? I'll just do this. I'll grab somebody who's You're like, it's sometimes it's not that deep. In another example, though, you're right though, yeah, yeah, and I mean in in in our case, HD, you know, I uh, we were actually both there at the same time. There were a few other people like Gordon he's also known as Field or the creator of in Map. We were all around the pool on on def Con Sunday a few years ago, and that's where HD had the idea to to build this, and he actually went off and started building it by himself. And I advised him a little bit from the sidelines, but I wasn't in the in the operational business UM and and I advised him mostly on things like marketing and pricing and those kind of things. And then when he had a number of customers and he had a product that you know, was really getting traction on. So that's when I joined operationally because my background is marketing, you know, majoring in in product marketing and SWAN, so I understand the marketing side a little better at the...

...sales side and so on. So I was managing that'side of the business. And HD is very much on the technical side and really robust. There builds really good products that people love and that performed well. And he is very passionate about getting our support response stats are insane and I don't know how he does it in terms of how quickly he gets back to customers. Uh. It's something that keeps coming up in customer conversations that they just uh, yeah, I don't know how he turns support cases around this quickly. Well, it's often you know, complementary personalities that really really make this work. So you're advising him, you know, he's starting something you're advising mostly on marketing. Uh. Is he like, hey, man, you gotta leave what you're doing and join me? Or were you like, hey, Hd, I've I've shared so much. I feel like I'm invested in this. I'd love to join you. Yeah. So it was a little a little a little softer than that. I didn't I didn't assume that he wanted me in there like I. You know, we were friends and friendly, right, and so I had given him some feedback and advice and so on from the sidelines. But it was really when I was at very Code and we we've gotten acquired for the third time, and it's like I was getting a little bit tired and this, you know, doing the same job for a number of years. After a while, there's only so many ways you can frame that and phrase that as a product marketer. Um. So I I thought I needed something new, and my husband very kindly reminded me that I promised him to take three to six months off before the next gig. So I said, all right, you know, I guess I have to quit cold and then find a job in in a few months. And I texted HD because he had taken a sabbatical while at Rapid seven, and I said, HDM, I'm gonna take six months off. I'm going to take a page out of your book. And he said, hey, do you want do you want to come join rumble at the time, and I'm like, wow, that sounds really good, but can you give me three months. So three months later I joined and he graciously still still gave me the co founder UM title, and then we started building the company. You already had a good book of business UM and good customers, solid product and but but no marketing nothing, you know, a website. But we even had to build the CRM from scratch, you know. It was all all in spreadsheets and emails and so on. And so I built up the sales team, built up marketing team, and we hired people and promoted some of them to two titles and so on. So yeah, it was really good right now, Like this was the beginning of last year and we're now at seventy seventy something people. Wow, it's exciting. Yeah, ask a little bit more about hiring and culture here in a minute. But I think Sandy has one more factor fiction for you and maybe even market heering. So this will be the last factor factor fiction and then we'll stop torturing you. Chris Um factor fiction. You have proven and verified psychic powers. That is arguably true. That is arguably true. M Again, like one of my life goals was to become an intern for a fortune teller, and I didn't quite get that because I would have loved to just like spend a month or two in a fortune teller. It's then just listening in and understanding how they do things. And just to be perfectly clear, I do not believe that you can, you know, see the future, or speak to um, speak to people that have passed on and so on and uh. But I did the second best thing. I thought, Okay, I'm going to study the art of cold reading. And so this is a technique that some psychics used to kind of um, you know, seemingly no things that they couldn't know and so on, and predict things and so on and make it very believable. And I did that. At Veria Code, they did a hackathon twice a year for three days, and the rules where you had to either learn something new or interact with people that you don't usually interact with. I'm like, bingo, this is two of them. I'm learning something new, I'm interacting with people. So I put I put out my table in the cafeteria and said, hey, I'm giving psychic readings and did that and and and tried out the different techniques. You know, At the beginning, I was a little rusty.

Then it got a little better, and some people didn't believe me at all. Some people full on believe me. I debriefed everybody to tell them that I was, indeed didn't have psychic powers. One one person actually told me like, oh no, no, no, you might not know it, but you have psychic intuition. Um. She was very much into into the psychic world. And yeah, that was eye opening. And afterwards I gave a talk at def COM in the Social Engineering Village on how you can apply these same techniques in social engineering. Um, so that was that was fun. That's I think that's also up on YouTube, so you can also not now you have more homework when so so psychic intuition, Okay, going back to that, is that something you're born with or is that so? Is that something a technique that you learn or is that something No, it's not, no, you you. Um there's a what is it called something something Cold Reading by Ian Rowland I think it is. It's a book. You can buy it on Amazon or the bookstore of your choice, and it gives you a number of techniques on um, how you can make statements that to the person sound like you got it spot on, but you actually were just fishing, right, So you can say, let me think, o, god, this this talk is a few years ago, and I'm not doing this as a party trick, so bear with me. But you can say, oh, I'm there, there's somebody who's connected to you, and I'm it's a it's a woman and mom name yes, right, and then you start out, you know, like, it's somebody with a J like a gen or a jazz sort Jennifer or Jessica. Does that Does that ring a bell? Right? And so what you do is you're clearly fishing. Um you are. I looked at the you know, most people at the company were within certain age brackets, right, And then you look up the most common names by birth year per decade, and you learned those, and Jessica and Jennifer for the I think people born in the eighties was super common, and so almost everybody knows. And I always picked the name of the same gender because people usually have more friends of the same gender and so on. So it's that makes it a little bit easier. And it could be somebody you work with, somebody you you know, former schoolmate, family, whatever, and so on. And if if they say like no, never don't know any jess, don't know any gen you know, you must be wrong. He's like, oh no, no, no, maybe this person hasn't come along yet, you know, but they're going to be really important to you and make sure you look often. So there's lots of ways to pivot when something doesn't work out. Um. And then you can also do stats on like oh, I see a house with the with the number two in the in the number um and you know, like something like that. And again you play with probabilities because most streets are a little bit short, you know, a shorter than longer, and you know, um, there there, And it doesn't have to be this house that you live in right now. It could be where you grew up or friends or something like that. Right, so, uh, the my mom's house, yeah rightishing It's funny because here he is like, you know, taking you know, basically educated guesses to fish and one of the people he's doing this parlor trick with it says, you know, you actually have psychic intuition, to which I have to ask you, is that like, were you oh my gosh, was that a compliment or is it kind of like a put down your This is all, this is all math. Actually, you know, it wasn't It wasn't a put down. I was a little I thought like if if I flat out told her I was being dishonest and she still doesn't believe me, Like I I don't think I can. You know what other arguments do I have? So I gave up right, And one thing that I just want to stress is I don't like to make fun of people who visit psychics, because I would be you know, number one, that's victims victim shaming, and I don't think that's a good thing. Number two, Uh, many people who go to psychics do so because they've lost a loved one or there in, you know, something's going on in their life that's not quite going right. And so I think it's the psychics that are exploiting these kind of feelings and vulnerability these um for their own financial gain, and that's what...

I criticize, right, So I just wanted to be very clear about that. No, you're absolutely right. You know, the one person I do know who did visit a psychic was a very very religious person, but visited a psychic after a death very close to them. Yeah, it's funny that it's funny, you said that. Yeah, there is a fascinating podcast for the podcast listeners out there. I think it's by the BBC and it's called Fake Psychic. It's a multi series, multi episode podcast that goes deep on some psychics. I think in the eighties, sixties, seventies, eighties, something like that. I don't remember, but it's it's really good and it's really interesting. Podcast stilled out a page of your productivity. This week is going to go down. You know, they're just to close out on the psychic thing. There's a terriffic movie on this. I'm sure you've seen a Nightmare Alley which came out recently. Bradley Cooper a Germo del Toro directed it. You would love it, Chris standing. Not so much like a horror movie, because I don't like those. It's not a horror movie kind of horror movie. It might have some scary stuff now that you might be some gross things. But anyways, do your own research of it. Okay, okay, alright, welcome News Factor. Fiction segment is over officially concluded. It's concluded. Okay, a few we'll have some questions for you, seth Okay, so let's talk about let's talk about funding. UM. When you look at your investor list, which by the way, you can you can find on your website, it's it's super impressive. I see individuals from service Now, from Menlo Security, from pel Alto Networks, from Duo Security, etcetera, etcetera, and so on and so forth. What was your path to funding? Did you take the trip additional route, UM and pitched to a bunch of vcs. Did you pursue angel at walkers through that? Yeah, so UM around the time when I decided to join h D in the company UM, he didn't have funding at the time he he started out, gave a loan to the company, got some first customers, paid himself back, was cash flow neutral, but he had because he has just a really good name in the industry. He had a lot of vcs knock knocking on his door because they also heard about Rumble. They it's very quick and easy to try. So people tried it out and liked it, and we're kind of knocking on his door, and we knew that if we wanted to grow and wanted to grow a little bit faster, we needed work in capital. So that basically a little bit of a buffer in the bank so that we would be able to take more risks higher, a little bit faster, um hired a little bit ahead of the curve and so on. And so we went with one of the people that knocked on his door. And I know, you know, for some founders it's super hard, and I always feel bad because for us it was it was much easier. I mean, you still need to go through all the due diligence and all of those things, but it was uh yeah, John Zakota from from Decibel. He he was the person that we liked the most out of the VC set, and so we said, decided to go with him. Very very cool, calm and collected, very reasonable. Uh been a founder himself, I think that helps, right, So he's been there and he's been in those shoes, and so we we added a few angel investors to fill in the round. Decibel would have taken most of it, but we wanted to bring in a few of other people. I think Karu and Mire for example, the founder of Things Canary. Some folks in in the audience might be familiar with that. He was one of the investors, and some others. And then for the second round, we basically said all right, we were still cash flow neutral at the time, UM, but we we were growing and we said like, okay, we actually need a little bit more working capital, just as you know, to protect for the future. And we decided to go with Decibel again and did uh part of the round with them, but they would have taken the whole round. But we wanted to bring in very specific expertise. We wanted to bring in people that had product led growth experience, for example, right, because we're a product led growth. So Guy pot Jarni, who was on your on your podcast I think last time, right,...

...last episode. He's an investor and so he's a great guy. I don't think he's actually on our website. And then we included uh, David Schneider, who's the former president of Service Now, because we saw a lot of our customers wanting to import the findings from Rumble the asset inventory into service Now to make it more more accurate. Um. We have people in there. Of course. John ober Hyde, he is the co founder and CTO of Dual Security. He's also been a guest on the show. Yeah alright, okay, great, Yeah, he's fantastic and he you know, he built Duo Security from the start all the way to the acquisition by by Cisco, and he's actually our external board member and I love talking to him because he'll have a good perspective on any challenge that we might be facing. And so it's it's really good to have these advisors. Gordon Lyon, the creator of n MAP, is a is an investor and so on. So we we just selected people that bring us certain expertise, either technical expertise or industry expertise. Chris Nack chrisen uh kind of uh famous pantester and overall really good fun guy. Um. He does a lot of operational technology pantesting like oil and gas and those kind of things, and and telcos and so on. So we we brought some some industry expertise, but also we brought in some people that provide us with certain functional expertise. So we have two CFOs in the mix, David Epstein from Menlo Security and Paul Dimarzo formerly Duo Security. Because we didn't want to hire a CFO out of a you know, out of the gate, we still don't have a CFO. We have a director of Finance and account thing who does a lot of great work the day to day stuff making sure that the trains run on time. But every now and then we need a strategic perspective on on something in finance. And then we tapped those folks or Jim sib who who was the c r O a duo security who can advise us on you know, some strategic things with with sales and so on. So we tap into those angel investors as advisors and because they have a skin in the game, you know, we get a call back that's tapping into a lot of intelligence. Yeah, yeah, we're very lucky. Yeah, it's like a a network and a group of investors that any company would dream up. Frankly, who's who Um this is We're going to switch gears and and venture into a topic that's a little bit softer in nature, UM, but but an important topic, UM, particularly in the tech space because you know, you and I have spoken and UM, we've we've touched on this. This sort of misperception that tech companies tend to be a little bit more focused on you know, the product and the and the business performance, etcetera. UM, and unless so on culture. But that's certainly not the case. So we want to UM tap into your wisdom when it comes to developing a good culture. What do you think the keys are to developing that that great culture? All right? Very interesting question. And culture is so hard to define, you know. I struggled with that quite a lot, and I sometimes still do because it's it's very hard to define. Everybody knows what a good culture is, but it's very hard to describe, and everybody knows what a bad culture is. But how do you build a good culture and how do you define it? I think UM culture needs probably starts with the founders. Beau has Um top down has a lot of influence. But when we had about ten fifteen people, we talked to our folks and we said, hey, you know, like everybody said, we really like the culture here. We don't want that to change when we get larger and so on. And I thought, oh, you know, like we I agree, but we don't have We haven't actually defined what our culture is. And if we haven't defined it, then we can't screen people on whether they are a cultural fit for us. If we don't do that, then our culture is. We're going to get a culture, but we might not get the culture we want. So we we set out to figure out what culture we wanted in the in the company or what our culture was, and to define that and in in previous companies, I had seen cultural values, but I was never at the table when they were created. And I thought, Hey, I think it would really suck if h D and I like...

...wrote something down and then added it to people, because it seems a little fake and a little superficial. And so my idea was to sit down with a handful of people from the company, different backgrounds and genders and functions and seniorities and so on. HD actually said like, Hey, Chris, don't include me in that group because you and I agree on that stuff, like you you want to have other opinions there as well. So it was me and and five other people, and I scheduled to to our meetings and basically went into those meetings with a bunch of very open questions. So the questions were like, you know, what do you like about run zero culture? Why did you join the company from a cultural perspective? What did you like about you know, a previous company that you worked for, uh with company do you purchase from? Like where your customer do you like? Where do you like? You know, why do you like their culture? And uh, and what can we learn from that? And I ended up with I think I was eighteen pages of notes, um, every and I was very deliberate that it was a zoom called We're Remote, so it was a zoom call, and I asked everybody to take a moment think about the question and write a short answer in the zoom chat. And then when everybody had submitted something, we went in the order of submission and discussed their answers. And I wanted to do that specifically because, um, when you have these group discussions, the loud voices drown out the quiet ones, and I want the quiet ones to have a voice there as well. So bye bye, everybody typing out their answer first, and then us discussing it. I made sure that everybody was getting hurt. And then I, uh, you know, sat down and looked through those eighteen pages and condense them into a single page. Five values. They're actually up on our website. You can have a look at them run zero dot com and then look at company our values, and the first one is we're kind and fair. Um, It's it's really important, you know, being kind of the necessary, always assuming good intentions, being respectful to customers, to candidates, even when you turn them down and so on. The second one is transparency. We are very transparent inside the company, but also with our customers. I think inside the company, if you think about my position, I'm CEO, and let's say I didn't give people any information about the company. Now that means that they can't make good decisions. They have to escalate all decisions and I have to make them. This is that would be exhausting, right, and it doesn't scale very well. But if you are transparent throughout the company and give people a lot of information, then they can actually make h information with the make decisions with the best information in hand. And so that's why I think transparency is also really important. It's not just, you know, a good thing to do and makes people feel good, but it actually enables you to scale because you can have people make decisions further down and empower them to make the right decision. Then the third one is focusing on customers. I believe that if you focus on customers and make sure that you deliver a good product, good service and they're happy, then most of the other things sort themselves out because essentially, as a as a CEO, you have these three constituents. You have the customers, you have the employees, and you have the the investors that you need to keep, you know, equally happy. If you have happy customers, usually the employees are happy, the investors are happier. You're good, right, um. And I also believe that I did a lot of competitive competitive intelligence in my days as a product marketer. And if you over emphasize on the competition and what features they have, I don't think you are going to create the best product because if you're just copying, you can't innovate. And if you are, if you are copying features from the competitors, you don't actually know if the customers like those right. The competitor might have gotten it wrong. They developed something, maybe because an industry analyst told them, or maybe because it's what they thought was a clever idea technology wise. And I've seen that in my own companies as well, um, where we build features that nobody needed. And so but if you focus on the customers, I think you you go down the right path than making sound decisions. So that means, you know, try to have data to make the decision. There are a lot of companies that make gut to say visions, um,...

...and sometimes that's the only way you can do it. But much better is if you have facts and you can you can back those up. So I think both of your marketers, so you know, run a b tests on what performs better on a website rather than saying, oh I like this copy better. You know those kind of things. And then the last one is fostering mindful growth. And so this this has a few different aspects. It means that we have a culture of learning. Um. It also means that we empower everybody to give feedback and that goes you know, from the CEO to the intern on from the intern to the CEO in all directions. And it also means that you know a lot of startups. I see a lot of companies that are struggling now in in this economy. They have over inflated expectations because of a high valuation, and they're trying to grow according to what's possible on the spreadsheet. But companies need time to absorb new people, to build new processes, to build new systems, all of these things. And so that's what I mean by mindful of growth. So you need to actually make sure that the organization can catch up with that growth and uh, and you also need to anticipate future growth steps. Sometimes you get get ahead of something to to avoid an issue, right, And so that's what we cover cover under the mindful growth category. Awesome, I mean clearly a very strong focus on on culture, which is really fun to see. Yeah, I'm mentioning the mindful growth thing and talking about evaluations. That's all been put on its ear evaluation market cap over the last eight months. So it's uh, it's really strong that that's your fifth one and in a great area of focus. Yeah, thank you. Okay, So now we're gonna give you a chance to talk about a gratifying customer. Customer Uh, with US Christians, you had a customer walk up to you and talk to you about your company, talk to you about your product. Oh yeah, all the time, all the time. Yeah. But I I wanted to actually give an example that that involves Trace three because we've been working with you for for a while and there was one one deal that you brought to us that I think shows some of the the value. It's not like you know, it's it's one use case, but I think it's a really interesting and powerful one. This was you came to us UM, one of your people and said, hey, I've got this this company UM and they got a letter their public company, they got a letter from the SEC UM that they need to report whether they're exposed to the solar winds uh you know, um back door or whatever you wanna call it, if they have if they have any solo wins on their on their network. And they were trying to figure it out with their vulnerability scanner couldn't do it with that. They were trying to do all sorts of ways and they couldn't figure it out. And I think they were already over the deadline set by the SEC. So they we're really kind of like hair on fire kind of thing. And so they came to us on a Thursday, I believe UM, and we helped them deploy a proof of concept of run zero in their network. We worked with them all through the weekend and I think by Monday or Tuesday, we completed a complete UM inventory of their network. There are a big multinational company with several brands, so this was a it is not a simple network, many many h retail locations, and we found a lot of solo wins boxes that they didn't know they had, right, And so I think it only took like a week longer and we had the po So that was like a great, great success story and something where we really showed value in addition to what the customer already had. Right. Um, So I like that story. Not every deal is that fast, right by by all means, but I thought if you, if you wanted me to pull one out, that that was gratifying. I really liked that one. Yeah, a lot one of ours. That's great. Yeah. Yeah, Well, Chris, is there anything that we did not cover that you'd like to share with our audience? Um? Yeah, I guess if you If what we're doing here at run zero sounds interesting, um, what I would encourage you to do is just to go to run... dot com, check out the trial, and do it on your home network. And even if you're not planning to buy it, uh, you know, buy a license for your company. You can use our starter edition for free um that doesn't expire, and you can just scan your home network. Most people, especially if you're a little bit technically inclined and like to tinker, most people will find a ton of stuff that they didn't even know they had connected to their network anymore. And it just shows you that even in a small, uh you know, very simple network like your home network, where you're just a handful of people, it's very hard to keep track of what you have. And so if you want to do that, that would be great. If you want to, then recommend us to your peers at the company and uh, you know, try a rollout at your company, our biggest customers of Fortune five, so we scale all the way up. Then that would be fantastic. And I really love that. And you can also do that through Trace three because they're one of our partners. That's great. Isn't that a nice way to end it. It's a perfect way because you know, the people who listen to our podcast, our takers are exactly the type of people that, uh could go ahead and grab Run zero and run it on their home network. I think that's that's a great idea. Yeah, well, Chris, we want to thank you. We talked about asset inventory and network visibility. We talked about psychic powers, we talked about pickpocketing your research. I have to say the makings of a great podcast. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to have you all right, okay, thank you so much. Right have thanks Chris. Trace three is hyper focused on helping I T leaders deliver business outcomes by providing a wide variety of data center solutions and consulting services. If you're looking for emerging technology to solve tried and true business problems, Trace three is here to help. We believe all possibilities live in technology. You can learn more at Trace three dot com slash podcast. That's Trace the number three dot com slash podcast. You've been listening to the Founder Formula, the podcast for all things start up from Silicon Valley to innovators across the country. If you want to know what it takes to lead tomorrow's tech companies, subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time,.

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