How to validate a cybersecurity startup

by Black Hat Middle East and Africa
How to validate a cybersecurity startup

Welcome to the new 143 cyber warriors who joined us last week. Each week, we'll be sharing insights from the Black Hat MEA community. Read exclusive interviews with industry experts and key findings from the #BHMEA23 stages.

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This week we’re focused on…

Why cybersecurity entrepreneurs need to focus their attention on validating ideas. 


Because we asked Moataz Salah (CEO at CyberTalents) about the key challenges to launching a startup in the cybersecurity sector, and he said: 

“I believe that idea validation is crucial for the success of any startup, especially in the cybersecurity sector. The main challenge is that many founders come from a technical background and may have a great idea for a product, but they often lack the business experience to validate it.” 

And validation really does matter 

As Salah added, failing to validate your idea “can lead to building products that solve a problem that no one has, or that are not a good fit for the market.” 

If you don’t validate, you might be destined for failure before you even enter the market – and you won’t even know. But effective validation allows you to adjust or pivot before you get to that point, so you can step into the fray with confidence. 

But how do you do it?

There are loads of theories on this. We really like the Startup Grind method, which goes like this: 

  1. Write down the problem. Be clear about this – you’re not writing down the solution (your idea), you’re making note of the problem you want to solve. And write it as simply as you can – if you can describe the problem quickly and clearly, it’s more likely to be a problem that your potential customers genuinely care about. Ideally, you don’t want to have to convince people that the problem exists with complicated explanations before you can sell your solution.
  2. Determine whether the problem is genuinely…well, problematic. Is it a pressing issue? Are your customers really struggling with it, or do you just want them to be struggling with it? The problem should exist regardless of your solution. You shouldn’t be inventing a problem in order to sell your product.
  3. Identify existing solutions. Go out and talk to your ideal customers – the people who are facing the problem. How are they solving it right now? What workarounds are they using?
  4. Then identify the friction in those existing solutions. What are the pain points? What do your customers wish was available to them, in order to solve the problem more easily? And then consider whether your solution can soothe that pain.
  5. Check if there’s a budget to solve the problem. Are your competitors growing? Are your customers putting money into existing solutions? And ask them: Would they pay to solve the problem?
  6. Use the customers you’ve connected with through your market research to define a roadmap and offer out your MVP. They might become your first paying customers – but even if they don’t, they’re a valuable source of feedback on the early iterations of your solution. 

Validation doesn’t stop once you launch in the market

“In my own experience, I've found that idea validation is an ongoing process,” said Salah. “Even after you've launched your product, you need to continue to get feedback from customers and make adjustments as needed.” 

This is very, very important. Your product might already be out there in the wild – but you can’t get complacent. 

Keep researching, keep adapting, and keep growing with your market. This is essential if you’re aiming to build a business that can be successful long-term.

🔗 Read our full interview with Salah: What are cybersecurity startups missing?

Do you have an idea for a topic you'd like us to cover? We're eager to hear it! Drop us a message and share your thoughts. Our next newsletter is scheduled for 24 April 2024.

Catch you next week,
Steve Durning
Exhibition Director

Join us at Black Hat MEA 2024 to grow your network, expand your knowledge, and build your business.

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