November 25, 2014
If you have ever depended on a computer and the Internet for your work – personal or professional – you are aware of the risks of security breaches and hacker attacks. That probably makes about 99.99% of us! Organizations spend thousands every year on expensive network security audits in an attempt to protect themselves from cyber attacks. It is often an expensive and once-a-year effort. But hackers change their modus operandi everyday and find new security holes. On top of it all, security audit firms offer some really boring material as deliverables that is better served as paperweight!
Enter Neo. Neo is a network security risk bot designed to help you become secure and automate security audits on your network. Neo does this by performing its security assessments continuously, from the eyes of a hacker, and tells you, the IT person, how to fix the security holes it finds before a hacker uses them against you to steal your data. Neo is friendly and easy to use. It learns from you and figures out how to best protect your computers, phones, tablets, and other systems connected to the Internet.
Justin Farmer and Travis Fischer cofounded Neo while working on their IT services firm Kernel Ops. Neo grew out of their love for hacking and for building secure systems. Their long term vision is to reimagine the world of cyber security and make it simple, easy to use and affordable for all businesses.
They are based in Fayatteville, Arkansas and recently won over the CISO of the University of Arkansas who was very impressed with Neo’s technology and results. Justin and Travis are currently focused on building an audience through inbound marketing and working hard to complete the alpha testing phase of the product successfully.
Here are some snippets from our conversation with Justin, CEO of Neo:
What is the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn so far?
Let me start by saying that I’m a hacker at heart, but running a business is a completely different beast! I took business classes throughout college but they don’t compare to what it’s like to actually run a company. Learning, or should I say ‘stumbling’ through, what it takes to be the CEO is by far the hardest lesson(s) I’ve learned so far!
How do you keep your team motivated?
So far, motivation is pretty simple since the group is just me and my co-founder. What works for us is pretty different, however, we compliment each other nicely. When I’m having a rough day, he’ll motivate me with a quick speech, and vice-versa.
What common startup advice do you completely disagree with?
We’ve gotten a lot of advice from mentors and advisors, which makes the sheer amount hard to digest sometimes. I’ve had a hard time following their advice about getting people to prepay for our product since it’s not a cheap monthly service. I always have this vision of a swindler rolling through town and getting people to give him their life savings for a potion to cure cancer or something, then he disappears. I feel like that’s how people look at me.
What’s the best entrepreneurship book you’ve read and why?
Startup CEO. I’m about half way through it, but everything has been great!
What’s your biggest personal weakness, and how do you make up for it?
I’m a pretty thorough person and I think about too many outcomes before pulling the trigger on a decision. In the startup world, this can easily bite me in the ass and it has a few times.
What keeps you motivated on the hard days?
While it’s stressful, tiresome and difficult being my own boss keeps me motivated. I could be like my friends sitting in a luminescent office building enjoying the water-cooler talk, but that’s not me. The need to keep being my own boss is what keeps me moving forward.
If you weren’t doing this startup, what idea would you be working on?
I make some pretty mean cheesecakes… maybe I’d run a super upscale cheesecake shop.
How do you unwind on the weekend?
I’ve played ice hockey since I was 8 and I still do that once or twice a week. Otherwise, I spend time with family and friends.
What’s one quirky fact about you, your team, or your office culture?
There is one weird thing that I do though and it involves plain M&M’s. For some reason, I have to eat them by color and in even pairs. So, I’ll eat 2 blue M&M’s, then 2 green ones, etc. Yes, in the end I’m more than likely not going to have even amounts, but it’s ok at that point! Weird? Yes!
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