In this episode of the Dirt podcast, host Jim Barnish interviews Tony UcedaVelez, a risk and cybersecurity specialist who has worked for many years as an engineer turned founder and CEO. Tony shares his 16-year journey growing one of the top security consulting firms, Verse Bright, and how to measure risk, generate demand for services, and build a purpose-driven business, culture, and life.
Tony UcedaVelez has a strong dislike for the word "fear" when it comes to risk management and cybersecurity. He believes that fear can lead to bad decisions, such as overspending on security or not having the right strategies in place. He also believes that risk is relative, and it's important to be aware of your business environment and make decisions based on strategy, not fear.
Tony's company, Verse Bright, focuses on helping clients evolve with the use of technology, such as machine learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence. This allows for routine human-led activities to be automated and for higher-level analytical activities to be handled by human intelligence.
Qualifying risk is essential for any cybersecurity firm. It is important to understand the observable patterns, the costs of pain, the business, the product, the reputations, and the regulations of the company. It is also important to understand how to be an expert in authoritative and trust figure in the industry.
Quantifying risk is also essential for any cybersecurity firm. It is important to understand the threats and costs associated with them. It is also important to understand how to reconcile the difference between the economic wealth and the spiritual wealth.
When it comes to small businesses, it's important to define what "small" means and to understand the business's risk appetite. Tony suggests that these companies should look into cloud-based services that have security and that they can afford, as well as do-it-yourself security. He also recommends that small businesses ensure that they have the right strategies in place and that they don't let fear drive their decisions.
The construction industry is one of the most vulnerable to cyber threats due to the raw materials and equipment involved. Cyber criminals may target contractors’ information, such as tax information, in order to commit identity theft. For small businesses, the risk appetite of the company is a key factor in determining the level of cybersecurity needed. Cloud-based services can provide an economical solution for businesses to adopt in order to protect their data, but DIY security is also an option.
When it comes to cybersecurity, frameworks and methodology practices are essential for businesses to become leaders in the industry. The International Standards Organization and the National Institute of Standards have created a variety of guidelines, controls, and frameworks for companies to follow. However, criminals don’t pay attention to these standards and may find ways to navigate around them. Therefore, it is important for security practitioners to understand how to reduce risk without jeopardizing function.
When Tony first started Verse Bright, scaling, cash flow, and branding were major concerns. To scale the business, he focused on subcontracting to larger technology firms. To increase cash flow, he focused on direct sales with companies. To increase brand recognition, he brought in experts in marketing and branding. Content was king at the time and content distribution was key to success.
Overall, Tony stresses the importance of understanding the risk appetite of a company and finding the right balance between function and risk. It is also important to bring in experts and focus on content distribution to become a leader in cybersecurity.
In today's business world, the right sales strategy can make or break a company. With the rise of technology, there are more options than ever before for companies to reach their target audiences. However, direct sales remains one of the most effective strategies for getting customers.
Tony emphasizes the importance of quality of service and repeatability when it comes to direct sales. He explains that if you do a great job on the first engagement with a customer, it can lead to more business in the future. He also stresses the importance of having a repeatable process for delivering the same level of quality each time.
Tony also talks about demand generation and how it plays a role in acquiring new customers. He explains that content is key when it comes to direct sales. Companies should be producing content that is both market-driven and internally-driven. This content should be niche and have distinguishing qualities that set it apart from the competition.
The benefits of direct sales are numerous. By producing quality content, companies can become thought leaders in their industry. This will help to reduce the sales cycle and increase awareness of the company. Additionally, direct sales can help companies save money on channel partners and other expenses.
Overall, direct sales is an important part of any business strategy. By focusing on quality of service, repeatability, and content, companies can increase their chances of success. With the right strategy, companies can reach their target audiences and acquire more customers.