Stu Sjouwerman, founder of KnowBe4, a digital security training company, successfully launched and exited four startups before starting KnowBe4 in 2010. Now at 240 employees, KnowBe4 was born as a direct result of Sjouwerman reflecting on a weakness experienced in the company’s immediate predecessor.
“I was unemployed for five days after we sold the IT security company,” he said. “I looked back and saw that our problem there was social engineering which is when the bad guys trick people into opening up an infected email attachment, so I decided to create KnowBe4 to address that particular issue.”
KnowBe4 enables its customers’ employees to make smarter security decisions. “Old-school awareness training is herding everyone in to the break room, keeping them awake with coffee and donuts and exposing them to death-by-power-point,” Sjouwerman explained. “That just doesn’t hack it anymore, pun intended. New-school awareness training is conduct a baseline test, train and then continue to test.”
Similarly, Sjouwerman’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to test your idea. “Survey, survey, survey,” he said. “You want to know before you go. You might come up with a bright idea but I’ve seen ideas fail a thousand times when it’s created in a vacuum. You want to have a very good product market fit. What you want to present to customers has to be something that solves a major headache for your market, it needs to be easy to use and it needs to be at a great price. If you have those three elements, then you have the magic mix, and you can create a $100 million company.”