We had a talk with Tim Andersen, the co-founder and CEO of Retest Security about why and how they started, how they are building a new company and how the IT security market is developing.
First, an introduction to Retest Security
Retest Security is an IT security company that helps mid and large-sized companies better understand their IT vulnerabilities. By scouring specific applications, systems, and infrastructure for gaps, Retest Security identifies areas that may create a risk, informing their clients of the potential danger and guiding them towards a solution before any malicious activity occurs.
How did Retest Security begin?
The first plans for Retest Security started in January 2019 when René Hansen and Tim Andersen found themselves working for one of The Big Four accounting firms after their previous employer had been acquired. It was a very different culture than the one they came from, and they found themselves in a less than ideal situation.
Tim and René were discussing their situation when they had an “aha” moment. They should start their own company and work for themselves. After all, they had created an immense amount of value for several customers, and if they were lucky, these clients could become the foundation for a new venture.
“I had extensive sales experience, and René had the technical know-how. Together we made a perfect Yin-Yang combination that a small startup needs to get off the ground. We decided to take the plunge and Retest Security was born”
The Early Days
Tim and René got things started in their living room, receiving initial support from family. After a month and a half, they felt restless and decided to kick it up a notch. Tim withdrew his holiday pay, and René liquidated some of his financial assets. With this, they had enough to establish an official business.
“It was more typical for startups to find investors and hire a full staff immediately. We were different because we decided to stay lean. We did not have the desire to run a company with a large deficit, but wanted to grow organically”
Tim and René soon found The Camp and moved in around May 2019. To design their product and develop a unique selling proposition René and Tim took the best practices they had learned over the years. With the help of initial customer dialogue, and feedback they were able to test a variety of angles to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
Once they had developed a product that worked, Tim and René were pretty sure there was a demand for it in the market. They secured one customer and Tim started reaching out to potential customers while René had time to optimize their product delivery and internal processes.
What values inspired the creation of Retest’s culture?
Retest is the first company that Tim and René have started, but they were sure how they wanted the company culture to be. They strongly believe that going to work should be fun and when there is nothing left to do for the day, it’s ok to go home. Their previous experience working for others had solidified this position, and they were completely aligned.
Running a company that values flexibility had to be baked into the company culture. Tim and René have made it clear that it’s ok to work smarter, not harder, and there is absolutely no reason to finish your work and then run out the clock pretending to be busy.
“We make it extremely clear to our employees: when you have finished what you were supposed to do today, do not sit and look as if you are busy. Go home! It’s ok!”
Tim and René provide their employees great freedom, but responsibility comes with that. As example they have one employee who works remotely from Chile and another in the Netherlands. It’s important that the opportunity for remote work exist at Retest. They also know, from their own experience, that remote work isn’t for everyone as Tim explains:
“I’m not fit to work at home. I need access to good facilities, and I get energy from being around other people. Others feel differently, and that’s ok with us.”
How was the journey?
New customers began to come and having access to the Camp and its community is what Retest Security needed:
“At our first Friday bar here at the Camp, we could celebrate four new customers. At this point, we looked at each other and said: Ok, we’ve probably got something right. It was a good Friday!”
Within nine months, Retest Security became cash flow positive and is still exceeding its growth goals to this day. The company has continued to grow organically and has employed around four new people a year and is now a team of around 12 people. After three years in business, Retest Security has never lost a customer and sees this as an excellent indication that they are doing things right.
How has the IT security market evolved?
Demand for services like Retest Security couldn’t be higher. According to Grandview Research Group, the IT security industry should grow at around 11% annually for the next seven years.
“There is a major shortage of IT security people in Denmark. Our customers often lack one or two security resources within their organization. We can help, but they still need someone internally to be a link between operations, management, and systems.”
When companies like Maersk and Vestas are hit with cyberattacks, the IT security industry inevitably gets more attention. Companies of Multinational caliber usually have excellent IT security. When the wider business community becomes aware of these vulnerabilities, it encourages small and medium-sized companies to seek the same services with far fewer resources. That’s where smaller service providers like Retest Security sit, ready to help.
What’s next for Retest Security?
The IT security market over the last four years has felt a bit like the Wild West, but the market is beginning to consolidate. Retest Security has received a few acquisition inquiries from several more prominent players but has decided to press on as an independent company for now.
“Right now, we have all the freedom we need, we get a fair pay, we have a profitable business, and we have fun! If we sell the company, there is a big risk that we could end up right where we started, which was the motivation for us to start Retest Security in the first place.”
Going forward, Retest will focus on building a subscription-based product that fits in well with its current services. While Retest cannot fix everything for their customers, they can do their best to bring awareness where needed. It is often said that it is easy to go broke buying security products and hardware in the IT security industry. Even then, you can only buy yourself 98% security. Retest Security uses this approach to provide an independent assessment of their customer’s situation to get to the root and provide the security people need at a price they can afford.