Today we have selected George Egri to take his interview. He is the Founder & CEO of BitNinja.
First, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?
The pandemic has caused problems in many industries, and most companies have tried to adapt with online solutions. Even those who have only thought about it have opened eCommerce stores. An online presence became virtually indispensable for most companies during the pandemic. Consequently, IT has become one of the few industries that have grown thanks to the pandemic. The growth of online presence has also had an impact on cybersecurity. As website owners are exposed to more threats, the need to protect websites and servers has increased significantly.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?
I started to build my first company during my university years, in the mid-2000 with some of my classmates. We were running servers for websites. At first on one machine, then more and more, but I was always thinking about the next step. I felt that cloud systems were the future. In my enthusiasm, I embarked on several projects – more than I should have. We developed a newsletter application, billing software for businesses, and a CRM system for all opticians simultaneously. Web-server Ltd is still in business today, and, as with servers, we have been attacked or hacked often over the years. We couldn’t find a good solution to protect our smaller shared hosting server when we looked around the market. We decided to develop it ourselves. We started to validate the software on the market, and we realized that shared hosting companies need a cybersecurity tool like this one. After that, we focused more resources on BitNinja.
How does your company innovate?
Innovation is an important driver for our company. It’s essential because hackers invent new ways of doing things every day, and we need to be up to speed. We need to be one step ahead of them. We rely heavily on our colleagues to innovate, and we do our best to bring ideas to the programmers and make them happen. We organize FedEx days, and we have a thank you program specifically to reward new ideas.
How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you Coping?
We have switched to a home office environment. On the one hand, it was challenging for team cohesion. Team builders were missing, and making up for it online was a difficult task. However, it gave us a big push towards expanding our recruitment geographically, thus building a more international and better team.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
We launched two new products almost simultaneously. One of them is BitNinja SiteProtection, a cybersecurity tool tailored to website owners, and we a still working to take it to the next level. The other one was a cybersecurity tool for containerization ecosystems. We spent a lot of time trying to launch it, but we realized this is not the right time for it after a while. From this case, I learned the importance of timing and allocating the resources at our disposal.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Maintaining effective communication was the biggest challenge. When we retired to a home office environment, we experimented with several platforms to hold online meetings and maintain offline working efficiency. I now feel we have succeeded, and in some areas, we have even surpassed the previous efficiency. We tried Slack, but we were already using it in the company before the pandemic. We didn’t find Slack’s video chat feature suitable for larger meetings, but it was suitable for 1-on-1 meetings and quick text messaging. Google Meet was adequate for medium-sized meetings, but its screen-sharing feature is not very sophisticated. Zoom is cumbersome for starting smaller meetings, but it is the most basic tool for larger meetings, and we are happy with its screen sharing feature.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Imunify360 is our biggest competitor in the server protection business. We have the advantage of being ahead of them in terms of innovation, and we also have a positional advantage because we started earlier. In terms of strategy, a significant difference is we rely on our user base for our different security solutions, and we also leverage the power of the community. In website protection, BitNinja SiteProtection’s main rival is Sitelock. Here, we are starting from a slight disadvantage, as we are about to replace and reform a product that has been on the market for some time. Our primary advantage over them is that we use a different method to protect websites. Instead of the proxy model, we have chosen the on-server-security route, which allows us greater control over the security and protection of the web pages.
Your Final Thoughts
If we find ourselves in a difficult situation and use our resources well, it can be advantageous. Think of the fact that the greatest innovations have come in the most critical situations, like the invention of the first programmable digital computer during the Second World War. The same is true in the world of business: it’s about the survival of the fittest.