With all the news, warnings, statistics, flying around out there during these unprecedented times, we were curious how the leaders of our SCV portfolio companies were coping. In this three-part multimedia series, we sat down with each CEO to get their thoughts on COVID-19 and its impacts on their companies and the business world as a whole.
For our third installment, we had the privilege of speaking with Ori Bach, CEO of TrapX.
TrapX helps defend against advanced attacks, zero day, and insider threats using real-time breach detection and prevention technology. TrapX can show you how to identify and eliminate serious threats that may already be in your network by using hundreds or thousands of easily deployable traps, creating a virtual mine field for cyberattacks.
Here's what Ori had to say:
Strategic Cyber Ventures: We've all been social distancing and working from home for a couple weeks now — how's everything been going?
Ori Bach: These are interesting times, but I've been well. We're all active. We're all communicating and working as a team on different things. And ultimately, we also see this as an opportunity, given that our differentiation has always been ease of deployment and low friction, while still getting the value (i.e. visibility to threats). So we also think that this is an opportunity for us, not just a challenge.
SCV: How has your work ethic changes since you've started working from home?
OB: I'm an early morning guy, so I wake up at like, five, six am. I think I need to actually work on taking a little more downtime because I'm actually working a lot more also. When you're in the office, people drop by, you get a coffee… I'm getting a lot more done actually now, but I do need to slow down.
SCV: What have you learned about yourself as a leader during this time
OB: A true test of everybody, not just leaders, is how they respond in this type of time. For me, I am amazed every day about how much people are stepping up. People are really seeing this as an opportunity to help our customers come up with new and innovative things, and it's just giving me a lot of strength. So, as a leader, I think you're only as good as the people that you work with. And I'm really seeing that. I'm seeing a lot of people that I put trust in pay that forward, help our customers, and help me.
SCV: How are your customer relations during this time?
OB: Earlier today I sent an email to all of our customers, and a lot of our people are just hitting the phones with the customers asking if there's anything we can do to help. If it's about our product, great, if it's outside of our product, we have a lot of [general] cyber expertise at TrapX.
"Is there something that you're dealing with that our research team or any of our other people that have operational cyber expertise can help you with? Are you getting the maximum value from the product?" And ultimately, we are only as successful as our customers and our strategies, and so far, we're getting great feedback on that.
SCV: That's great! TrapX has been pretty on top of all this since the beginning. Even a couple weeks back you were already hosting meetings to plan for the future. You have been impressively on top of the situation. What's the internal situation at TrapX looking like?
OB: Ultimately, it's communicate, communicate, communicate. As a management and leadership team, we've pretty much been meeting on a daily basis and just talking through this. "How is this affecting us? How is this affecting our customers? And how can we prepare ahead?" Ultimately, you can thrive in any kind of environment as long as you prepare ahead and have the right type of mentality not to shut down while also looking at the opportunities. Every challenge is also an opportunity. And that's a great way to think about things.
SCV: For those who aren't adapting quite as well as TrapX, do you have any advice for companies/customers struggling with the current climate?
OB: I think the best advice that I can provide is that things may seem bad or dire at this point in time, but ultimately, the business life is always about those crises. And the companies that do well in those type of situations, typically do extremely well when they ultimately pass. And this too shall pass. We've had pandemics before in the history of humanity. And even in our lifetime, we've had major crises, like the stock market crash of 2008. Being an Israeli, I've been in several wars, and it always looks really bad. However, it always passes, and life goes on. And the companies that are able to navigate successfully are the companies that come out stronger and thriving. This is an opportunity to create a better partnership with your employees and your customers.
SCV: It seems like you are working all the time, but does being home have any unexpected positives?
OB: We are all in a constant process of juggling our work and personal lives. I always saw that as an integration. But to be honest, I wasn't seeing my kids as much as I wanted to. Now, just having them close to me is great. And while I am working, being able to take a minute and talk to one of them or having lunch together is extremely powerful. It also showed me how they're able to step up. They're helping out cleaning the house, they're making food. They're my partners and my support system. Having everybody together was something that I initially actually thought may be challenging, but actually having done it, it's been a wonderful experience.
SCV: So happy to hear that! Have you watched any good movies read any good books, or is it just business as usual?
OB: We are doing movie nights. We can't go to a theater, but we do have a big screen, and every couple of days, we make popcorn and we watch a good movie. I think the last one that I saw was a war movie. It was pretty good, and it also gives you some perspective, right? We're dealing with things, but we have our internet and a lot of other things that people didn't have at the time. And then you see this movie, you see those pilots on this rickety plane doing a bomb dive. They might not come out and you say, okay, there are worse challenges in life. We are still living in one of the safest and most prosperous times in history. And the options open to us are amazing. For example, us talking right now. Before in the history of humanity, we would have been completely disconnected from the world. And now we're actually communicating more. Personally, I'm talking more to people than I did previously.
SCV: Final thoughts you'd like to add?
OB: We've talked about customers, but I also want to talk about our ecosystem. We're all in this together. We do rely on people that provide services to us like an accounting firm, etc. We rely on you guys, our investors. You guys at SCV are communicating with us and thinking through this. You're offering best practices and how to help. So ultimately, I think it shows that we're all in this together and will either be successful together or unsuccessful together. I actually like the fact that different people are reaching out to me asking for advice, and I can do the same. And again, it's part of the benefit of being able to communicate, versus being in a box and just trying to figure out things for yourself.
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Cybersecurity is national security, and we're a D.C.-based venture capital firm on a mission to find cutting-edge startups that help us make an impact. We go beyond the check to help our founders win by leveraging our industry connections and experience as cybersecurity veterans to fuel their companies from inception to exit.