Tuesday, March 13, 2018

John Dimmer Guest Speaker

For my first two years of college I studied business at Tacoma Community College. I remember a little bit about the different types of companies that you can make but I mostly remember the different accounting classes that I had to take. 3 quarters I was balancing books and working hard to make these financial statements based on fictitious businesses. The difficult part was all that knowledge told me what I needed for a functioning business but not what I needed for creating product pricing and how to organize my financials. Therefore John Dimmer was probably my favorite guest speaker. John was able to give us some personal advice explaining that we should thoroughly read our contracts and feel free to say no. He was also helpful in that he broke down all the different options for what type of business that you could file as. Then he even went further and explained what sort of taxation you would experience with each. He also explained to us how to get funding. When building the funding needs for my business I was completely lost because I wasn’t sure how I was going to estimate the funds I needed for one year let alone five years. John was able to explain the different stages to us and what it is like in each of them. The most interesting was the angel funding. He told us about organizations that area here in Tacoma, some in Seattle so that if we really did want to get our business off the ground that it actually was possible.

Protecting Intellectual Property

The other day in class we had a discussion about what it means to protect your intellectual property. Before this class this was a little ambiguous to me so I am happy we took the time to clarify. We ended up talking about 4 types ; copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets. So the idea of talking about copyrights for a business named Host Busters is kind of ironic considering Universal Studios more than likely has the right to the Ghost Busters name, song, and movie. Since this is only a working title on school project, for now it will do. Trademarks would be useful if we decided to make a logo. You can see all of these large company logos like Google, Adidas, or Starbucks with the tiny R or ™ next to them. Since the primary financial investment will not be on marketing and creating a logo, this will more than likely be a protection we will use later down the road. When making a logo I want to make sure that it is well done and can be easily recognizable for our customers. Patents would be an interesting tool to use in our industry. If our pen testing company was able to get a patent on some sort of software or hacking tool it would really set us ahead in the market. Starting off we will more than likely be relying on a lot of pre-built and free tools that it will take the company a while until we are able to fully develop a good patentable software in the future. Trade secrets just make sense. As long as you have a functioning business that is starting to climb the market it might make sense to keep everyone quiet so competitors do not try to steal your thunder.

Mission and Vision

In class we discussed what it means to have a business mission and vision statement. At first I wasn’t fully sure of what they were supposed to do and how we needed to build one. The break down that Professor Fry did between the two was really helpful. I was really happy that we got to compare the different companies like Microsoft and Pepsi to see how large companies can implement these tools. Honestly when we were discussing in class about different companies and their statements, I already had my favorite in mind. The Starbucks mission statement is one that I have heard and worked with a lot when I was working there for about 4 years. They also stand by it and you hear it from everyone in the company so that means that it is an effective statement. Their statement is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time”. So beautiful! I thought about that when building my own. It was interesting to hear about my other classmates visions and missions and how that reflected their company. I definitely wanted to include my passion for the industry, the level of support that this company will need to provide as well as something that would inspire customers to contact us. Granted these are statements that can be changed over time as the business evolves but I was more interesting in keeping it general and conceptual.
Host Buster Mission Statement : To empower our organizations by uncovering vulnerabilities and delivering high-quality cybersecurity solutions.
Host Buster Vision Statement: To inspire creative thinking, encourage continuous improvement, and to combat the blackhats.  

Pricing the Product

Host Busters is a cybersecurity/penetration testing business. Typically in these types of businesses a price is done on a quote by quote basis. The reason for this is because network builds and configurations will vary based on how they need to support the business they are running in. After doing a bit of research I believe that we should break down our costs into sections and from there we can piece together what it would cost for each customer. We will also strategically include discounts. Since this is a service we want to make sure that we can establish relationships with our customers so that they will give us their business again and again. For computers we will do our pricing by quoting about $900 per IP address. This is lower than most pen testing companies because we are so new to the market. For web page or any sort of SQL injection it will be about $900 per web domain. For on site social engineering it will be about $1500 per visit depending on how much we need to “break in” or how creative we need to be. For email/phone or other various types phishing will be $150 per person. Since phishing is the easiest workload and the fastest of them all it would cost the least. For customer recommendations, the new client they refer will get 15% off their first penetration test and then the original client will also get 15% off their next test (limit one discount per service).  

Brian Forth

Brian Forth was recently a visitor in our class where he presented his company SiteCrafting which has been in business for much much longer than any other presenter we have had. Brian’s demeanor was very approachable and easy going. At one point he was talking about his company culture and how his office was built. He makes it a goal of his to connect with every single employee he has so that he can maintain a great relationship with his workers. Another interesting thing that Brain talked about was all of the work that he has been able to accomplish with SiteCrafting. He has had clients like Avon, Multicare and more. The other flipside to that is that he has no sales people. That was a somewhat baffling thing to learn about. He lets his business promote itself. If you think about it, people don’t need websites too often, but when they do they want to make sure that they are using someone who will deliver a good reliable product. So with all the great work that Brian has already done with his workers, word of mouth allows him to keep growing his business so that he doesn’t actually need to invest in sales workers. The last thing I thought was pretty cool was all of the side projects that he had been working on. One of them that stood out was named GearLab. There the company is able to dive into more UI/UX research to build better products.

Robert Coons Guest Speaker

Robert Coons was recently a guest speaker in our entrepreneurship class where he shared his experiences about building the Scout mobile app. This app is intended to help military personnel find local discounts that they can use everyday. The intention behind the app is that not every military discount is applicable to every military person, there are different classifications. He mentioned at times he would call business to business to find out different discount opportunities. From there he was able to build a database that has all of that information listed out that the app can then read from. His focus was mostly in the Oregon area but he had mentioned that he was looking to moving into the Puget Sound/Tacoma area because of our military base JBLM.

Robert's entrepreneur approach was really interesting to hear about because originally he began the business with another person (which he mentioned briefly a couple times) but now it is just him running the show. He really did build the business from the ground up too. I asked the question of how he was able to tell who to do business with and he ended up sharing a story about some pretty awful business people that he has encountered already. It’s interesting to hear from people like Robert because you can pull from their life lessons and experiences to try to build your own business. It’s also always good to know that no one is immune to these kinds of hardships when you are a CEO.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Eric's visit to our class the other day was actually very eye opening for me. His personal experiences made self publishing/beginning a small business seem accessible. A lot of times when thinking about building a business plan it can be easy to get lost in the pre planning rather than the actual execution. For me personally, it is hard to allow myself to fail so the thought of building a business at first was extremely daunting. The timeline that he showed us as far as the small business sustainability made me think about how when building a new business it doesn't need to be the next Microsoft or the next Starbucks it just needs to serve it's purpose and cater to its audience. It actually might be much easier to deal with a smaller business with less demand than a larger one with copious amounts of product/service demands. The presentation of the income trend line for hourly/salaried workers versus a entrepreneur was very helpful to me as well. I am a visual learner so things like graphs that are mapped out for me to see the trends help me wrap my head around certain concepts. I try not to be solely motivated by money, but watching that line grow exponentially at the end of that line was enticing. Personally, I have decided to change up my business plan to a contract cybersecurity business because this would be an actual plan I could execute by myself rather than needing hefty amounts of funding. Eric's presentation inspired me to explore my passions and see how I can use them to give back and maybe make some money at the same time.