Marcus J. Carey, Founder of ThreatCare
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Marcus Carey. I am the founder of a company called Threatcare. We do this thing called breach and attack simulation. It’s a cybersecurity term. That means that we imitate attacks on networks, to see if people’s security controls actually work.
Who is your target customer?
Yeah, so target customers are enterprise customers, the people that have invested in cybersecurity tools.
How did you get into cybersecurity?
When I was 18 years old, I joined the U.S. Navy and went into the cryptography field. Little did I know that I was going to be worked for the National Security Agency (NSA) for 8 1/2 years.
Prior to starting my company, I worked for another cybersecurity company that ended up going public. I also wrote a product for that company. I kind of understood what was needed in the space and I felt like I could provide my own solutions. So I thought why not start my own cybersecurity product company.
Are you bootstrapped or venture backed? If ventured backed are there any tips you can give to founders raising?
So far we have raised $3.8M dollars in funding. I consistently help other founders raise money and pitch their companies. If any of your readers are struggling to raise money hit me up, I coach a lot of people how to raise money. The tip I got is from a Steve Martin quote “Be so good they can’t ignore you!”. So be really good and practice often, and find good mentors that can help you out. I think the other thing is people invest in teams, so make sure the team balances out your weaknesses.
You have to show your potential investors how they’re going to get their money back because investors invest to grow their money. They’re not investing for goodwill, they are investing because they think that they can make a return.
What I see from people of color (and I do think our hearts in the right place a lot of times), is we focus on social ventures too much. I do a lot of mentoring, and we tend to want to be the “Martin Luther King” of technology or make some big social change. I wish more people focused on building “pure tech plays” because I think we can do that. I laugh when people say “Black Twitter” or “Black This” or “Black that; if we built our own platform it would make a significant difference.
So that’s what I encourage entrepreneurs of color to do: build global platforms that anybody can use. To help others socially we need to build our own companies and have big exits, then reinvest those earning into other ventures.
What tips would you give to your younger self?
I wish I started doing software development sooner, because before I was always waiting for somebody to help me.
It’s a double-edged sword; I think coding is way more approachable than what people think it is. If you’re technical, you’re more likely to get an investment. I knew cybersecurity and then the fact that I could code, I could build a cybersecurity solution. So I was only was a solo founder, which is rare to be funded, but since I built the entire product, website, etc. I was able to get funded.
It is entirely possible for most people to learn how to code and build your minimum viable product (MVP) or cheaply outsource it.
I noticed (allow me to be kind of controversial), people of color, we tend to not team up with each other. For whatever it’s kind of rare to see a team of sisters, brothers, or women come together and build a company. But if we look at companies like Twitter, Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey those cats built three/four companies together.
Even though I wish that we could get together, I think sometimes you have to be like “Nobody’s going to help me! I have to do this for myself if I’m going to make this a reality!”
I see many entrepreneurs say they want to build something and they’re looking for a chief technology officer (CTO) forever. Now it’s like three years later and no product.
Another thing on that, don’t be afraid to give away equity in the beginning, and this is maybe why we don’t work together because we don’t understand equity. If you and I went and built a company together, let’s say you have an idea, and I can code. The scenario I see all the time is that the person with the idea will think they deserve to be 85 percent owner and you give the person doing the code 15 percent or something crazy lopsided like that.
If you say we are going to do a 40/40 equity split and a 20 option pool for future hires it makes more sense. Then if the company blows up, you’ll both win in the long run. Also, it’s not going to blow up overnight.
An idea is worthless unless you can implement.