Dena Konrad is the founder of Dena Tech Solutions, a cybersecurity company that is based in Kansas. She offers a wide array of cyber-related services through the company, key among them being testing for vulnerabilities in networks. She is so good at it that she could identify a hard to detect vulnerability in one of her client’s networks that could have led to millions of dollars in data loss. Konrad is a natural when it comes to entrepreneurship. It is her eye for opportunity that drove her to get into cybersecurity. An applied mathematics graduate, Konrad landed a job at a fintech startup immediately after graduation. While working at this firm, she realized that the company was ever under a constant threat of a cyberattack. She also realized that most of the solutions in the market simply were not good enough. Determined to capitalize on this opportunity, Konrad went back to school and did a Master of Science degree in Cybersecurity Engineering. She used the skills she had learned to start Dena Tech Solutions and grow it into the company it is today. Since she launched it, the company has increased its client numbers by over 200%, and the customer numbers keep growing. She continues to expand her skills and is currently looking into blockchain security. Being the entrepreneur that she is, Konrad has identified a gap in the smart contracts ecosystem and wants to capitalize on it as Dapps reshapes the web.
How did you get started in this business?
This company was a natural progression for me in my career. After I graduated with a degree in applied mathematics, I landed a job in San Francisco at a tech company. I worked there for about a year, and it was while working there, I noticed a serious gap in cybersecurity. We would get attacked often and, at some point, had a vulnerability that would have collapsed the entire business. It is at this point that I decided to go back to school and gain cybersecurity skills. I enrolled for a Master of Science degree in Cybersecurity Engineering, and after completing it, I felt that starting my enterprise would be the best path to follow. That is how my business was born. It’s been three years of success, and I love everything about it.
How does your company make money?
I make money through consultancy, and also selling cybersecurity solutions to corporates. The consultancy money is more of a booster to our revenues, as we don’t do it on the regular. The real money mainly comes from offering cybersecurity solutions that are billed as a service. It has proven to be a good business model so far.
How does your company go about acquiring new customers?
We rely heavily on Google marketing. While we don’t do paid ads, we have invested quite heavily in SEO. We also use social media marketing a lot. We have partnered with a couple of social media influencers to spread the word out about our business. Both techniques have paid off, and our customer numbers have grown significantly since we launched.
How did you work your way up in this business?
Like all successful entrepreneurs, I started small, and scaled up. I first made sure that I had the skills necessary to succeed in this business. I then did a small proof-of-concept, and once I knew that the solution was working, I started marketing the company. I also approached a few backers who helped me get the product ready, and reach some of the core customers that have instrumental to the company’s success so far.
What made you want to work in this industry?
I have always had a passion for technology. As far back as high school, I was good at coding, and could write simple programs that we would use to solve basic problems with my friends. However, the thing that made me want to get into cybersecurity was the security challenges we encountered while I was working at Fintech startup after graduating college. It is at this point that I purposed to channel my energies into cybersecurity. The drive was so strong that I went back to school for a Master’s degree in Cybersecurity engineering.
What is it that you feel makes you good at your job?
I would say it’s my skills. With my cybersecurity background, I can easily identify vulnerabilities that would hurt a company if there is an exploit. My mathematics background also comes in handy in helping me contextualize such vulnerabilities, and even predict what hackers would most likely do next. Besides the skills, I am quite the people’s person, and never had a hard time building relationships. This too has been instrumental in getting the business where it is today.
What are the perks of working in this type of business?
They are many, but the most important one is the pay. Cybersecurity is an ever evolving, and most hackers are getting more sophisticated than ever. So much so, that most experts in the field just can’t keep up. For those of us who are able to offer reliable services consistently, the pay is pretty good. Another thing I love about my line of work is that it keeps you on your toes at all times. There is a thrill in knowing that I am always up against some badass hacker probably with deep pockets from anywhere across the globe.
What are the disadvantages of working in this field?
That’s a tough one. I love my job so much that I have never thought of things from that perspective. However, now that you have brought it up, I think the biggest challenge with this field is that you can never rest easy, Just when you think you have mastered the latest hacking trick in the market, a new one comes up. It’s a never ending cycle, and if you are not careful, it can drain you of all energy. It takes a lot of passion to work in this field.
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is helping clients overcome some of the most complex cybersecurity problems of our times. Whenever we help a client identify and seal loopholes that can lead to an attack, I usually feel very happy. The other more obvious reward is the money, of course. Like I mentioned earlier, cybersecurity is an ever in demand field, and as long as you can master it, you can live the life your dreams comfortably. Of course I am not some sought of billionaire, or something, but I am living the life I always admired as a child.
Where is your industry headed? What excites you about the future in this line of work?
The cybersecurity is headed into some crazy times. Over the last couple years, hackers have gained the financial muscle to carry out highly sophisticated attacks. State actors are also becoming more common in this area. Frankly speaking, I think cybersecurity will only get tougher. However, I am also excited that we have the manpower, and the tech to match them.
What advice do you give people who want to get into your field of work?
I would advise them to make learning an integral part of their lives. You are in a field where what you learned yesterday, will be pretty irrelevant tomorrow. If you are not on the cutting edge at all times, then you lose out.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Absolutely! I am willing to be a mentor. However, you need to have a STEM background. Otherwise, it could be tough, and I don’t have much time in my hands.