How often do you download an app for your phone and not even think about how it could be collecting data from you? Probably pretty often, and that's why companies like Oak Park-based NowSecure, have seen incredible growth in the past few years as they work to ensure you're protected. They had an incredible 2014, complete with a big funding round and doubling in size, and sat down with Built In Chicago recently to tell us their secrets to success.
1. They knew how to narrow their focus and build a company
In 2009 co-founders Andrew Hoog and Chee-Young Kim knew they wanted to start a business. They both invested $500 and quickly got to work on ViaForensics, the original company. which focused on forensics and mobile security. They eventually learned that specializing in mobile security was where they thrived, and what the market needed. After introducing mobile security testing and publishing a few books, they knew they had to reposition themselves, and dedicated themselves to advancing mobile security worldwide, currently with their new app.
“It empowers the end user to understand what’s going on with their mobile device especially when it concerns their privacy and the security of their data,” Kim said. “We’re using our mobile device so personally — our photos, our phone calls, our texts — we have no idea how this information is being used or where it’s being sent. With our new app it allows you to see which apps you use most, where that app sends information, who is asking for that information. It gives you a lot of visibility you probably didn’t know you have access to.”
2. They know when it’s time to change
When the company repositioned to focus on mobile, the name ViaForensics didn’t align with their mission anymore. Nor did their company colors or logos. Hoog and Kim let the entire team weigh in on all of the rebranding efforts and they announced their new name in December, along with a $12.5 million infusion of funding.
3. They know how to ramp up growth
The 50 person company doubled in size in 2014 and plans to do the same in 2015. They’re currently hiring sales and engineering positions. They also plan to enhance their marketing efforts in the coming year, especially locally.
4. They know what bootstrapping means
NowSecure spent until 2014 entirely bootstrapped. Kim told us when they first started, Hoog would take the overnight Megabus to Midwest cities for meetings and be back on the Megabus the following evening. That's dedication.
5. They know their roots
The company is currently based in Oak Park, but will likely make a move in 2015 due to their incredible hiring growth. But wherever they move, Kim insists it will be in the Chicago area.
“Because we started in Chicago, we’re a Midwest company.” Kim said. “The networking system here in Chicago is fantastic. I’ve made so many connections and it feels very supportive of other entrepreneurs and founders.”
6. They know how to create company culture
NowSecure prides itself on being a transparent organization. Hoog does a weekly “ask me anything,” where all employees can attend and ask questions in real time. He also gives larger updates on the company.
“It’s primarily a company of learners,” Mike Dwyer, the Director of Recruiting and Engagement said. “It’s a creative culture but it’s also one that is focused on development and getting stuff done.”
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