We partner with Trailblazers, founders whose innovative ideas are reimagining their industries. This series aims to highlight disruptive companies and the leaders who built them.
Lisa Xu, Co-Founder and CEO, of NopSec, is disrupting the status quo in the male-dominated cybersecurity industry. NopSec prioritizes cyber threats and vulnerabilities using advanced machine learning and automated attack simulation to help users proactively manage cyber visibility and threat remediation.
Tell us how you got started with NopSec.
We started as an offense-focused security company, helping businesses identify security holes and weaknesses from an offensive attacker’s view. Customers loved us and asked if we could put our intelligence “in a box” so they could reference our unique capabilities whenever they needed them. As a result, we built a cloud-based SaaS product that combines data analytics using machine learning with augmented offensive security. It helps customers prioritize threats and vulnerabilities and then remediate the most important weaknesses.
What were the biggest challenges you've had to overcome in building out the business and leading the NopSec team?
There’s been no shortage of challenges! We’ve had to tackle everything from acquiring customers to building the product, growing the business and scaling the team. It’s all about identifying the nature of the problem-- is it strategic, directional or design? Does it require resources and capital or is execution the issue? Once the root cause is determined, you continue to iterate until it’s solved.
One of the biggest challenges is that you need to get the right people, the right resources to build a company, and then as the company matures to a different stage, it requires a different type of skill set. At each stage in our growth journey, identifying the right talent to help the company scale is always a challenge, and we always coped with that challenge through referrals and using our professional network to align the right resources so that we can scale properly. I always tell the team, “You have to grow faster than the company, otherwise you will be behind.”
While the field is changing, women remain underrepresented in cybersecurity. How have you navigated your experience as a female CEO in the security space?
Being a woman, a minority, I think you're more open to changes, to people coming from different backgrounds and different experiences. I strongly believe that it's a good thing: the security world needs diversity, and when you look at our team, we all come from different backgrounds, different races, different native languages, working in different regions all over the world. I'm so glad our industry is moving to be more open and embracing diversity and inclusion. I think that should be the norm, not something extra we do just for the month of March.
What advice would you give to other women or minority entrepreneurs who are entering the industry?
Cybersecurity is an amazing industry to build your career in. Do not be intimidated by the gender or race gap. Go ahead and break down the stereotypical views of cybersecurity. Take advantage of all the resources available and have the mindset of lifelong learning.
Be proud of who you are!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Working with Blu Venture Investors, it has been a fantastic experience. They are investors in the sense that I don't think they ever judge us because of our race or gender, they judge based on the best business opportunity and identify the underlying quality of the entrepreneurs. They said, “We believe in you, Lisa. We believe in what you're doing.” Then, they actually went the extra miles and helped us advocate our opportunity to the investors and community. I think that's a testament to Blu’s uniqueness as an investor.
This article is part of an ongoing series by Blu Venture Investors to celebrate leaders in innovation and spotlight portfolio companies. Please click here to read more articles on the BVI Blog. Answers have been edited for clarity.