Today Nik Whitfield, CEO and Founder of Leap 100 company Panaseer, talks to us about encouraging honesty and communication within his team and the importance of adopting a ‘glass half full’ approach to the scaling-up journey.
1. What is the mission of your business and how do you hope it will change the world?
Enterprises today face a huge issue – they have too much data and too little insight into their cyber security hygiene. It leaves them in a situation when they cannot provide an answer to the simple question: “how secure are we?”
We were founded to address this.
Through advanced data science, we have developed a software platform designed to automate identification, measurement, communication, and mitigation of cyber risk. This enables enterprises to answer security questions confidently and easily – plus they only have to use one consolidated knowledge platform for all their cyber security insight needs.
2. What’s been your biggest challenge in growing your business?
Panaseer is an enterprise technology company, which means it is very capital intensive. Moving from concept to build and then execution meant that we needed a decent amount of investment. It really took the pressure off when we raised $2.25million in 2015 through a syndicated seed investment round as it meant we could laser focus on product development.
Since then we have hugely refined the product and build a stellar team – the feedback from customers has been phenomenal, which has meant that we needed more investment to enable us to scale. Last month we announced we had raised $3.25million in further funding from existing investors and new investors. Having this support is very motivating and means that we can drive our strategic aims by enhancing Panaseer’s access to the US and European markets.
3. What advice would you give to your former self when you were starting your business?
Focus on the positives. When you hear or read about successful entrepreneur stories, they inevitably focus on the positive aspects – the freedom, innovation and limitless opportunities. They don’t talk about the guilt and doubt that they aren’t successfully balancing their work, family, friends’ and colleagues’ needs and wellbeing. I found that in the first year, guilt was a constant companion – either I was not a sufficiently attentive father and husband, or not being a sufficiently committed CEO. I have used a variety of techniques that enabled me to now have a glass half full approach, but it would have been good to have these ready at the outset.
4. What part of your job do you most love?
My team. I am so very proud of the diverse, hardworking team that makes Panaseer what it is today. I get the privilege of working alongside some of the world’s leading data scientists and computer scientists who inspire and drive me in ways I can’t express. I actively encourage honesty and open communications, which means that my team feel comfortable sharing ideas and thoughts that have a really positive impact on the company.
Ensuring my team feels valued is so important to me – without them we wouldn’t be where we are today and we won’t achieve our vision. We are part of a family and we are all in this together.