“I’ll be honest with you, this path hasn’t always been easy. But, it has given us the ability to transform our cybersecurity startup from a fresh industry entrant, to a leader.”
A serial entrepreneur, Sagi Gidali is currently Co-Founder & CPO of Perimeter 81, a SaaS solution that delivers a radically simpler cybersecurity experience for today’s hybrid workforce. He joined Elevate, a virtual conference on how we can elevate the way we work, to speak about a topic he has extensive experience in: how to turn a startup into an industry leader.
What separates industry-leaders from the other companies out there?
Sagi says all successful startup founders have a certain quality that sets them apart. “I believe it is the willingness to adapt and change. Even though founders may be more comfortable sticking to the same business model, or with the same target audience they already know and envisioned in their original business plan, successful startup founders are committed to continuously learning and striving for change.”
Sagi started his first company in the consumer VPN space, along with his business partner, Amit Bareket. Together, they learned how to manage scalable cloud networks and create user-friendly interfaces. “As our VPN startup grew, we realized the business world also desperately needed a similar approach to cyber and network security. And so, Perimeter 81 was born – a unified platform that serves multiple security tools over the cloud with a better user experience than the other solutions on the market.” Sagi says.
Today, Perimeter 81 is a market leader, with 150 employees and three offices worldwide, serving over 1,800 happy customers. So, how did they get there?
Four steps to become an industry leader
Sagi says the following steps equipped him to embrace change and establish his business as an industry leader.
1. Get Very Honest Customer Feedback
“The best way to find a productive direction is to get it directly from your customers,” Sagi says. “Customers are picky, and experienced founders know that you should design through them rather than design around them. More often than not, they’ll suggest use cases for your product or ways you can improve it that never occurred to you.”
“At Perimeter 81, we have always paid very close attention to the voice of the customer to understand what features to prioritize and how we can meet the most significant demands in the market. This was equally true during our company’s early days as it is today. In addition, we’ve built a ton of usage analytics right into our SaaS platforms to understand user behavior.”
“All of these activities allow me to keep my finger on the pulse of our customers’ cybersecurity and networking needs, and understand how we can continue to develop and evolve our product to deliver a truly differentiated offering.”
2. Gain a 360 Degree View of Your Market
Once customers give you a direction for a new feature and you have the concept on paper, it’s important to explore if the same features already exist elsewhere, and if so, what your competitors are doing.
“When we decided to add zero trust networking functionality to our product plan, we analyzed the product pricing messaging of the relevant competitors. This enabled us to better understand how we could stand out from the crowd and lead the market. Companies in our space were starting to move toward delivering security over the cloud, as were we, but many of them required users to connect through an agent.”
“Informed through customer feedback, we decided that agentless access would help us to win the market share of companies who needed secure access for the unmanaged devices of external consultants, freelancers, and outsourced workers. Today, we are frequently recognized for the seamless support of a variety of business applications. Founders looking to nail down their positioning should prioritize competitor awareness in this way,” says Sagi.
3. Stay Close to Industry Analysts
Perimeter 81 has benefited from relationships with industry analysts from its very inception. “Industry analysts are the most authoritative voices and most informed minds in your industry. These firms can help you gain a broad yet precise view of your market, teach you about new trends, and can help reposition your product,” says Sagi.
“Their awareness of your brand is also priceless and can provide you with real market validation. I highly recommend getting to know them and briefing them on a monthly basis. In our industry, the most respected analysts are Gartner, Forrester, and other firms. We have met with them at pivotal moments in our product development, giving them an up-close look at our product and roadmap for their independent analysis, which validated our product vision and gave us broad exposure in the market.”
4. Build a Brand on Top of Your Foundation
Branding is key to gaining and keeping a market leadership position, Sagi says. “The ‘why’ of your company should be your brand, not what you sell or how your product works. Your single value – in our case, creating a better, simpler cybersecurity experience – is the epicenter of every ad, campaign, feature, blog, and partnership.”
“Part of the fun in early success is folding capital back into brand-building activities. Even though it may be hard to quantify the exact ROI, investing time and resources in events, PR opportunities, or new design language, can have a real influence on how customers and potential customers perceive your company.”
Learn From Your Mistakes to Scale From Startup to Industry Leader
“Creating a culture of change may be scary,” Sagi concluded. “You may even make mistakes, and that’s okay. The important thing is to learn and grow from your mistakes. By adopting these four steps, Perimeter 81 was able to go from recognizing a need in the marketplace, to addressing that need better than anyone else.”
To learn more about scaling your business in the new world of work, hear from the other powerful changemakers that shared their insights at Elevate, now available to watch on demand.