Two recently combined consumer cybersecurity companies are heading off under a new branding to make a run at providing some online peace of mind for regular folks, and they’re doing it with $150 million in capital from Boston-area venture firm General Catalyst and WndrCo, the West Coast technology investor run by former Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Burlington, MA-based iSubscribed completed its acquisition of Virginia-based Intersections in January and has since been focused on integrating the companies as well as rebranding the company, now known as Aura.

“From a consumer perspective people want something relatively simple and straightforward for their family and homes, something that protects their devices and all the things happening in their house,” Aura founder and CEO Hari Ravichandran tells Xconomy.

Ravichandran founded iSubscribed after he left another company he started, Endurance International Group (NASDAQ: EIGI), which started helping small businesses get a foothold on the World Wide Web but grew into a multi-faceted company that offered hosting, marketing, security, design, and more. Ravichandran stepped down from Endurance in 2017 amid an SEC investigation into the company.

ISubscribed’s, and now Aura’s, approach to meeting consumers’ needs is to get the best tools they can find, buy, or build under one roof. So far, Aura currently offers a malware and antivirus product called Intrusta as well as an identity theft protection system it acquired from Intersections.

Ravichandran says the company has a couple of ideas for its next products. First, something to cut off spam emails and communications for consumers once they go through the seemingly unavoidable experience of having their personal data leaked online or otherwise sold to some data brokers. The ideal technology would halt the spam, and also lock someone’s credit file before the personal data are misused by a hacker to open a bank or credit account.

Aura’s next focus is on the home and the exploding number of internet-connected devices, Ravichandran says, controlling how they communicate on the network and how much bandwidth they use, and even spot potential intrusions more easily.

iSubscribed raised a $12 million Series A funding round in May 2018, prior to its deal for Intersections. Aura now has $150 million in funding from General Catalyst, WndrCo, and the founding team. The company has 300 employees across offices in Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; and New Mexico.

Ravichandran says the company has $150 million in revenue and 1.2 million customers who pay monthly fees to use the products.

Click to view XConomy – July 15, 2019

Networking has expanded from the traditional model of industry events and watercooler discussions to a broad digital world ruled by social media. Stuck in our old ways, many of us in the technology world are missing out on opportunities in the digital realm by not realizing that social is the modern way to learn about advancements in our profession, inspire employees and establish credibility.

Whether you are looking to expand your career journey, raise awareness of your current organization, attract new investors or talent, or enhance existing professional relationships, building and maintaining an authentic online presence is a great way for technology executives or entrepreneurs to expand their reach and impact. These activities offer clear value, both on a personal level and for businesses as social media continues to evolve from a business to consumer marketplace to an integral part of doing business in a digital-first world.

From building past businesses, I’ve seen firsthand how impactful social platforms can be. Now that I’m back to my entrepreneurial roots, it’s something I’m making a conscious effort to work on. I’ve learned that while establishing an authentic online presence takes time,  it’s easier than you may think. The key to success is actually quite simple — reach the right people with genuine, relevant content at the right time. Below are four key steps I’ve found success with to get you started.

Define Your Point of View

To me, the first and most important step in creating an effective online presence that will enable authentic interactions and constructive thought leadership is to define your unique point of view. Think about the topics you want to talk about based upon your current role and experience, including your life experience. You’re a distinct, one-of-a-kind individual with your own way of thinking, speaking and engaging with thoughts and ideas, so your online and social media presence should reflect that. Ask yourself what voice and content make the most sense considering your background and personality, and don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Ask yourself: What is the biggest differentiator among your peers? What motivates you? What are you known for, personally and professionally? What trends do you notice in your industry?

Your online persona will be a combination of these traits, as expressed through what you post, share and say. This exercise can also allow you to establish some guide rails for approaching your channels, including content topics, voice and tone, engagement style and target audience. This will help you create consistent and authentic profiles and content, which your followers will be more likely to engage with (and hopefully share). It’s helpful to always remember you’re not just a conduit: Your individual voice and honest point of view should be a part of anything you share.

Build And Expand Your Network

Expanding and building your network online isn’t all that different from the traditional networking model. Just like how going to industry events builds your influence through personal connections, I’ve found that your following will grow just by being an active user online, producing content and engaging with others. You can organically grow your following by executing best practices, such as setting and sticking to a posting goal, making your content easier to find using hashtags and tagging other accounts, and following others with similar profiles or who are relevant to your audience.

After inviting your real-world network to connect, you can also actively identify and vet influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn with whom you can connect. On LinkedIn, two great assets I use for finding peers are the People You May Know section and LinkedIn Groups. You can also look at your peers and who they’re engaging with and following. A major underutilized asset on Twitter is the list function, which helps you to organize and filter people and organizations into separate streams. Not only can you create your own private or public lists, but you can also follow others’. Similar to your content, make sure your lists focus on your expertise and point of view. Once you have lists of relevant publications, reporters and industry thought leaders set up, following and engaging in relevant conversations will become much quicker and easier.

Use Your Judgement

The power of having an authentic online presence — namely, the ability to reach a broad audience quickly and directly — shouldn’t be taken lightly. You shouldn’t be afraid to engage, but there is always a place for caution and good judgment. Always remember that your digital presence is an extension of you as a tech leader. Assume that who you follow, what you share and the content and people or organizations that you engage with on social platforms is public (even if it’s set to private). You should directly engage with a speaker following a presentation or comment on a tech article shared by someone you admire. What you shouldn’t do is share anything that makes you uncomfortable, because others will likely feel the same.

It’s also important to be mindful of timing and what else is going on in the world. During an emergency or in the wake of terrible news, an otherwise innocuous business post can come off as tone deaf or offensive. Even during normal circumstances, an appropriate message shared at the wrong time can have an adverse impact.

Always use your judgment and when in doubt, I recommend keeping it to yourself.

Don’t Wait

I’ve found that the best time to build your network and online presence is before you really need it. Mastering your digital presence can be valuable for job seekers, tech entrepreneurs and corporate executives alike, but it takes time. Don’t wait until you’re being considered for the next step in your career or you need to course correct a reputation issue to establish your presence. Start laying the groundwork now. Beyond the network and knowledge mastery online thought leadership gives you, it can also provide you with an audience and reach, the ability to help shape your organization’s reputation, and the opportunity to build trust and new business from afar — all valuable in the modern workplace.

Click here to view the Forbes article.

Like any tech industry entrepreneur, I love technology and have since I was just 10 years old. Technology has allowed us to do absolutely incredible things on a global scale and has improved our way of life exponentially on a day-to-day level. Yet with all the benefits a more technology-rich and interconnected life brings, it also exposes us to risk as bad actors increasingly seek to take advantage of that interconnectivity. Every day, consumers benefitting from the increasingly digital world are also the ones who most often fall victim.

In the U.S. alone, 143 million consumers — more than half the adult population that is active online — were victims of cybercrime last year, according to the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report. U.S. consumers’ losses totaled $19.4 billion, and, on average, each victim lost nearly 20 hours dealing with the fallout.

These alarming stats make one thing clear: Cybersecurity literacy and readiness are lacking when they need to be growing. Unlike big companies with IT departments and resources dedicated to protecting cybersecurity, many consumers aren’t tech savvy and have little understanding of the complex world of cyberattacks, let alone what to do to combat them. To meet and withstand today’s online threats, consumers don’t just need better cybersecurity technology — they need realistic solutions. They need solutions that account for the ways they use their technology — on their computers, their phones and in the interconnected devices all around them. They need solutions that they understand and feel comfortable using. They need solutions that work.

Technology leaders, those of us with the skills and capacity to do something, need to pay more attention to people and how they use technology to design solutions that better confront the human element of cybersecurity. We also need to improve awareness of digital security threats by making technology and cybersecurity literacy easier and more accessible for everyone.

Considering The Human Element

Fraud and cybercrime are extremely common and can take on a wide variety of forms, from obvious scams to sophisticated and highly personalized attacks. Often, the subtle cause behind a security breach is human error (e.g., using a weak password, clicking a suspicious link, failing to download security updates, etc.).

As consumers become more and more comfortable making purchases, paying bills and sharing sensitive personal information online through digital interactions with their health care providers, financial services institutions and government entities, human factors can become serious vulnerabilities. Take passwords, for example. While we know that complex, frequently changed passwords are more secure, the distinctly human tendency to prioritize efficiency and convenience leads many to take shortcuts like using weak passwords because they are easy to remember or applying the same passwords to everything.

Cyberattackers rely heavily on user interaction and normal human behaviors like complacency and a desire for efficiency and convenience. Consumers need solutions that help make it easy for them to be more secure, ones that don’t ignore but rather embrace these human tendencies because security shouldn’t be a burden — it should be built in.

Developing Realistic Solutions

We can’t change human nature, but we can change technology to cut down on the shockingly high number of consumers who fall victim to an attack. All too often, people assume that if they’re using their phones, their desktops at work, the wearable devices on their wrists or their voice-enabled devices on their kitchen countertops that they’re safe. They don’t think twice. We need to design solutions that 1) educate consumers about the threats that exist as they interact with this technology, 2) empower them with the tools they need and 3) make it easy for them to use those tools.

I hate to use a cliché, but knowledge actually is power when it comes to staying safe in our interconnected world. If consumers know about potential threats to unsecured or outdated internet of things devices, understand how malware or ransomware can infiltrate a computer through an unwitting click of a link and have insight into password hacks, they’ll naturally be more equipped to avoid them. Software developers have an opportunity to build education into and around their technology as an extra line of defense.

When it comes to the technology itself, we often jump straight into complex software development without stopping to think about the natural tendencies of the consumers using that tech. Security doesn’t need to be overwhelming and scary. As technology leaders, we have a responsibility to make it much easier for consumers to both understand cybersecurity threats and take steps to make the digital world safer for themselves and their families. That means committing to rethinking and simplifying product design to account for human factors, with more mobile, user-friendly designs, better interfaces and more engaging, accessible content.

The best way for consumers to confront cybersecurity threats and prevent the damage associated with a security breach is to be prepared with the proper knowledge and smart tools.

Click here to read Forbes article.

You hear a lot about the evolution from tech entrepreneur to CEO but less about the journey the other way around. My career in tech began in 1997 when I started a small web consulting business that I would spend the next two decades building into Endurance International Group, a publicly traded company with more than 3,500 employees globally. With that experience behind me, I’ve switched gears and am back to my entrepreneurial roots, building a new digital security company from the ground up.

Although I have always considered myself an entrepreneur, this unique opportunity to do it all again has given me a new perspective on entrepreneurship and yielded some insights that are causing me to think very differently this time around. Below are some of the biggest takeaways from my journey from entrepreneur to CEO and three things I’m focusing on now that I’m back in the startup world.

1. Staying Open To Change

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved solving problems and assembling things. Spending the last 21 years building a business, taking it public and growing to over $1 billion in revenue was an endeavor I was passionate about, but it turns out being the CEO of a publicly traded company wasn’t what truly motivated me. About two-and-a-half years into what theoretically ought to have been the pinnacle of my career, I realized, a little to my surprise and chagrin, that it just wasn’t the right job for me. I missed the nitty-gritty work of creating things, of being close to consumers’ needs and developing disruptive new software to meet them.

It took time, but in the end, I realized that the things I was best at and most excited about were happening outside the boardroom.

It’s important to know yourself and keep an open mind. Careers don’t need to be (and often aren’t) linear, but fixating on where we want to get — to a certain title or valuation or stock price — becomes self-limiting and makes it easy to lose sight of what got you started in the first place. Challenge yourself to stay open to opportunity and different ways of thinking. It will only expand your horizons.

2. Keeping Perspective

When you’re first starting a business and you’re scraping by, you’re moving fast and don’t yet have a lot to lose, so it’s much easier to be brave. Sometimes you’re brave out of necessity. You take big risks because, in the moment, they’re your only option. In 1997, when I started my first business with my savings as seed money and a team of one, every day felt like a fight for survival. It wasn’t even about fear — just making the best choices I could and living to fight another day.

There is a certain thrill in the urgency of starting something new, but over the course of my career, I’ve learned that bravery isn’t just about the willingness to embrace risk. Sometimes bravery is having the patience and restraint to say no, to take a step back and not go after every opportunity. When you are just starting out, the horizon seems much smaller and your instinct is to move as fast as possible. This time around, I understand the value of taking a longer view and having the patience to build things the right way from the beginning.

3. Getting Culture Right

It’s no secret that startups tend to undervalue culture. Today we can point to myriad examples of promising tech startups with huge valuations crippled by underlying cultural issues. In some of the worst cases, leaders actively fostered climates and behaviors that led to their undoing, but it doesn’t take malintent to create serious problems. For many entrepreneurs, culture is simply an afterthought, a “nice to have” that takes a back seat to strategy, profitability and growth. While this approach may work well enough in the short term, it creates significant barriers to scale down the road.

To build a business with real, sustainable value and bring it to scale, you have to get the culture right from the onset. Culture undergirds everything businesses need to be successful: their values, codes of conduct, modes of operation and how people interact with each other, solve problems and work together every day. And the absence of a bad culture does not confer the value of a good one.

For me, “getting culture right” means creating an environment that is built on and engenders mutual respect and trust, integration, inclusivity and civility. Culture starts with people. Hiring the right ones is critical, but it can be tricky in tech. In fast-growing startups, it is easy to get caught up in hiring for specific “hard” skills (e.g., expertise in systems engineering, computer modeling, data science). Don’t fall into that trap. Communication styles, interpersonal skills, teamwork and diversity — picking people you can work side by side with and whom you can empower — are hugely important for building the right culture and need to be part of your decision making from the beginning. Now more than ever, I believe that building and maintaining a strong culture from the start lays the foundation for scale.

Remember, building something new is not the same thing as starting from scratch. Your past experiences — the lessons, successes, failures, mistakes and things that turned out only OK — are all valuable resources. Bring them with you. Everything you’ve learned along the way will serve you well and bring value to any new venture.

This article was originally published in Forbes.

It’s no secret that Silicon Valley is the hub for developing disruptive technologies. The companies based there are often at the forefront of changing how people use and interact with technology. Read more

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you build a strong team?” is written by Hari Ravichandran, founder and CEO of Endurance International.

The concept of team-building isn’t always the easiest for entrepreneurs to grasp—at least not in the beginning days of startup life.

Read more

When you start a business from the ground up, invariably you will make mistakes. It’s a rite of passage that is just part of the process. I know I’ve made plenty of them. But they’re worth making so long as you learn from them. Here are some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made, and what I’ve learned:

Going after external investment

Write your own checks as long as you can to pay your expenses. Don’t seek to raise capital until it’s absolutely necessary. The best way to fund your business is by bootstrapping and scaling up the business as your customer base scales. You should focus first on building the product and then on being able to generate revenue from your product before you resort to raising outside funds, especially with the technology available today. Bet on yourself despite negativity by naysayers.

When I started BizLand, things were going well—until the dot-com bubble burst. Fueled by external capital, we had scaled the business too quickly without a sustainable business model. We learned the hard way that not focusing on top-line and bottom-line growth can have dire consequences. It took us the next 15 years to scale the business much more manageably. We still make mistakes, but learn continually from them.

Remember that as an entrepreneur, you are learning on the job. You have to make peace with the fact that there are a lot of things you don’t know. I’ve had to make investments, sacrifices, and tough decisions. But not always being right has helped me become more aware and more disciplined.

Neglecting culture-building

Whether you decide to actively build it or not, your company will have a culture. And if you are not actively working to create one, it may not be the culture you want. If you focus solely on building your business and product in the beginning and neglect shaping the culture of your company, it will form without you. Avoid this scenario by taking a more thoughtful approach.

We’ve acquired many companies throughout the years—each with a distinct culture. As Endurance EIGI -0.93% has evolved, we’ve realized the importance of creating a united set of values and guiding principles that inform how we operate.

When you define what’s important to your company and internalize those values, it will greatly help to onboard and attract employees as you grow and achieve a larger scale. Also avoid the opposite mistake of solely focusing on culture and not on business metrics. That is a sure-fire recipe to not have a business long term.

Stalling on making decisions

Time is money when it comes to business. Don’t wait to make important decisions or allow outside forces to put pressure on you. Use the knowledge and data that you have at the time and then choose a direction. If you are wrong and you know you are wrong, don’t wait. Be humble, admit your mistake, and course correct. It’s better to always be moving yourself and your business forward in the long term—even if you have to take a couple of steps back in the short term.

I have waited too long to hire the right talent, which forced me to later move forward with candidates who weren’t as skilled. I have missed many growth opportunities by waiting too long to invest in certain areas of my business. As a leader, your job is to make decisions. But it’s important to leave your baggage behind when you realize you have made a mistake—and adjust quickly. You need to trust your instincts and consider timing, but don’t be hindered by doubt.

Ignoring innovation

Don’t ignore the importance of constant innovation in your company. If you embed innovation in your business, you’ll stay ahead of the curve. You want to make sure that you are constantly redefining how things are done and lead the charge instead of waiting for external factors to affect how your business operates.

Innovation takes many forms. It’s not just in the product or customer service. It can be how you get scale or how you decide to deploy dollars toward future growth. The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you can dictate which dimension you want to innovate.

This article was originally posted in Fortune Insiders.

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What qualities make an amazing entrepreneur?” is written by Hari Ravichandran, founder and CEO of Endurance International Group.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It can be a long, lonely, and stressful road to build a company from the ground up, but some business owners, including myself, thrive on it.

Based on my experiences, I believe there are some key traits and qualities that entrepreneurs should consider as they embark on their journey:

Have a vision

One of the most important qualities for an entrepreneur is to have a clear vision for the type of business and product they want to build and audience they want to serve. When you first start out, in order to put the work into making your vision a reality, you need to have the conviction that your product is a good one and that there’s a need for it. You are the architect of your vision. If you aren’t willing to defend and fight for your business, no one else will.

Tenacity

Starting a business is often a long and arduous process. It’s not for the faint of heart. You will face an endless array of challenges and will need tenacity in order to succeed. You need to have the belief that you’re following the right path, even when things go wrong and you need to course correct. It’s what has gotten us through some of our toughest times, which is why we make sure to hire those who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and understand the hardships of our customers.

Be greedy

You need to be greedy for your business and make sure it has the best resources to help it succeed. This means that you need to make sure all elements of your business (i.e., talent, culture, etc.) are set up for long-term success. Being greedy isn’t a negative attribute; it’s about having the conviction to fight for the best things to make your business successful. There is a big difference between being greedy for personal gain vs. being greedy for your business.

Always adapt

Entrepreneurs need to be able to evolve as factors change that may impact their business. It’s about aligning your vision and stretching your comfort zone. Many entrepreneurs find that as they achieve more scale and growth, they may need to start thinking about their business differently, which can lead to even greater success. During the dot-com bubble, I experienced firsthand the need to pivot or become irrelevant. Industries evolve and you need to stay ahead of the curve in order to succeed.

Be humble enough to ask for help

Although starting a business may have been your brainchild, you need to know when it’s time to ask for help. The starting points you originally plotted for your business may change as you go along, so you need to be humble enough to acknowledge when you need to ask questions and learn from others. Even though entrepreneurs often like to have things done their own way, getting external feedback can help you get a different perspective and increase your odds of success. If you’re thinking about starting a business, I would encourage you to review these qualities and think about whether you’re up for the challenges that being an entrepreneur entails.

This article was originally posted on Fortune Insiders.

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you stay inspired to run a business?” is written by Hari Ravichandran, founder and CEO of Endurance International Group.

The thing that inspires me to run my business is finding ways to overcome challenges and move the business forward — during every phase. When you start a business, you’re faced with very different challenges than when you begin to grow and achieve more scale.

Initially, the key things you need to keep in mind are developing a sustainable business model that can get traction with customers, securing enough revenue to pay your bills, and building a foundation for long-term success.

As you grow, you’ll have to look more closely at how your company should evolve to stay competitive, how you should define and create the culture of the company, and how to keep everyone in the company — including employees, partners, investors, and customers — moving in the same direction.

In 1997, I started a company called BizLand.com with my own seed money. Our goal was to help businesses get online. We had three offerings: web hosting, an e-commerce plug-in tool, and a shopping cart. What started as a small consulting business quickly grew much larger after we raised $20 million in venture capital and hired around 100 people.

However, in 2000, things started to take a turn. Our business model was based on ad-supported revenue, so when the dot-com bust hit that year, our revenue declined as the advertising market went down. Suddenly, our plan for a sustainable business dried up along with the ad-based business model.

With declining revenue and no way to pay employees or our business expenses, we were faced with a tough choice: reinvent the business or shut down for good. Because I believed that there was a market for our product and services, I was inspired to find a way to save the business rather than closing up shop. In late 2001, we reduced the team to 14 employees and were able to convert about 2% of our customers to a subscription-based model. We broke even in 2002 and renamed the company Endurance International Group in 2003.

Although this reset was a challenging experience, it ultimately set us up to achieve more scale and allowed us to ramp up to what Endurance has become today: a publicly traded company that employs more than 3,800 people in 15 offices globally.

These experiences have taught me to take one day at a time and focus on the big picture. Have a strategy in place that you believe in, and one that your team can embrace. Don’t let anything deter you from reaching your goal, even if you have to adapt the strategy along the way. Pushing myself to tackle problems and embrace risks is what continually keeps me motivated to grow the business.

This article was originally published on Fortune Insiders.

Hari Ravichandran appears on Bloomberg “In the Loop” with Betty Liu to discuss how small businesses handle cybersecurity risks.