12 Jun VUSECURITY – SEBASTIÁN STRANIERI
VUSECURITY is all about making cybersecurity easy for businesses. The collaborative platform integrates cybersecurity into their businesses processes, ensuring secure digital experiences while enabling companies to be more competitive with less operational risk.
Sebastián Stranieri, founder and CEO of VUSECURITY shares his experience as a Euro-Latin Startup working on both continents.
I have been involved in cybersecurity since 1999, when I started working for Trend. In 2006, the first smartphones began to appear simultaneous to the massive popularity and connectivity of the internet: I knew that in the near future, there would be an influx of online transactions from anywhere and on a wide variety of devices. That made me think that there was a huge opportunity- so I created VU SECURITY, later my brother and two other partners come onboard.
We started with a initial security product designed for a mobile model (Motorola V3) long before the modern smartphone existed. With this product, we were able to sign our first customer, Credicoop Bank, a financial institution that still continues to work with us after 12 years. Shortly after, we decided to expand and focus our efforts in other countries in Latin America so that we could diversify our customer base and not be limited to our own country, Argentina, which at the time was experiencing a period of economic instability.
In your opinion, is LATAM an attractive region for startups?
I think it’s very attractive because the startup ecosystem is quite mature. In Argentina, the entrepreneurial movement has been going on for more than 10 years. In fact, there is an association of entrepreneurs that has had some success in promoting policy decisions legislation that affects startups. The same thing happens in Chile and in Mexico, with more or less the same impact. Now, if you’re going to talk to a bank, trade union or the government- everyone understands the potential impact of an entrepreneur. Today entrepreneurship is in fashion: I always joke that entrepreneurs are the new rockstars!
Latin America is a fairly heterogeneous environment where companies can expand rapidly in most countries with more or less the same philosophy. This is distinctly different from Europe! It’s very different to do business in Spain, Italy or the United Kingdom. Especially in cybersecurity, regulations are always public, which allows us to easily evaluate the policies of each country without having a previous presence. Considering this and our flexible technology, we can easily adapt to the regulations of each country. In fact, this is one of our greatest differentials: through our partners we can work as local in each country.
Why are you betting on the European market?
Two fundamental factors have coincided for us to decide to face the challenge of expanding and growing in Europe. The first factor has been that part of our team is based in Europe and this opens up the possibility of having the best representatives of our company in the field. But the determining factor has been that one of our major partners, Microsoft, has recently approved a global expansion plan to support successful ventures from Latin America to Europe. They are accompanying us and facilitating the expansion with personnel in the countries in which we are going in order to develop our business in Spain, Italy and Portugal. In fact, we were recently awarded the Microsoft Partner of the Year award.
What are the main challenges facing startups when they expand into Europe?
The biggest challenge is that large companies believe in exponentially growing companies such as VU, although this happens both in Latin America and in Europe. There is always doubt if the startup will be able to actually provide the service or produce the product… It is a question of trust. Fortunately, a good portfolio of clients is the best guarantee you can have as an entrepreneur. The cyber community in Spain is very dynamic and provides a very profitable ecosystem of knowledge and relationships. Europe is the world reference in terms of the generation of regulation and governance of cyberspace. Establishing a presence in Europe means being one step ahead in the constant need to adapt to future regulations.
Could you provide some key lessons/recommendations for companies planning to grow internationally?
I would recommend that they use the networks of influence. At the beginning, we participated in the NXTP Labs acceleration plan. They helped us a lot to make ends meet, increasing our professionalism and close more than one contract. In the early stages, when you don’t yet have customer recommendations, there is nothing better than the help and consultation of an established partner who has put money and support into the venture in an effort to increase profit.
Another important aspect to consider if you are expanding business ventures in Europe or Latin America, is to know where the community of entrepreneurs is concentrated. The best practice is to get involved through creating associations or partnerships. In doing so, trust is fundamental. This way, it is easy to give back to the entrepreneurial community and therefore to society.
Finally, the best recommendation I can give to entrepreneurs is to consider the mid- to long- term (5 year) impact that their decisions will generate. In my opinion, this is a very useful exercise to appropriately gage the scope of your what you can do.