Onboardbase is an AWS Secret Manager alternative with a wider scope across cloud providers and usage detection. Dante Lex, Founder of Onboardbase, shares the story of Onboardbase, and the challenges and triumphs of creating this secure and collaborative environment for development teams. From fostering meaningful friendships with investors to the relentless pursuit of product-market fit, follow the journey of Onboardbase as it aims to become the “Apple of security”, empowering enterprises to work faster, better, and most importantly, safely.
Dante Lex, a product designer and software engineer, has spent the past decade specializing in dev tools and security. As the founder of Onboardbase, he has created a secret management solution designed specifically for development teams to automate compliance across their machines and deployment environments. Onboardbase offers a seamless way to navigate the entire infrastructure and collaborate with teammates without compromising security.
When asked about his motivation for creating Onboardbase, Dante explains that his inspiration stemmed from his experiences as a lead engineer and product designer. Throughout his career, he consistently encountered the need to mitigate security risks for his teams and manage secrets across complex infrastructures. As a result, he became acutely aware of the importance of security consciousness in these roles.
I've worked as a contractor for most of my life as a lead engineer or lead product designer. And something I've had to do is mitigate security risk for my team as well as manage the secrets across our entire infrastructure.
In his role as a lead engineer and product designer, Dante was responsible for mitigating security risks and managing secrets within his team's infrastructure. These experiences prompted him to seek out solutions to address the recurring problem of securely sharing sensitive information among team members.
Sharing sensitive information on work platforms, such as Slack or via email, is a common practice among engineers and team members. He acknowledges that it's a common occurrence, even for himself, and engineers in particular, who frequently require access to keys, API keys, and tokens for their daily work. Communication channels often become the default method for sharing these critical credentials.
And for a whole lot of companies, negligence within the workspace is the largest cost of data breaches. Right. And tech companies are having a very huge security crisis. The average tech company spends about 4.8 million to just manage a data breach.
Significant financial and reputational costs associated with data breaches are caused by negligence within the workspace. The average tech company spends 4.8 million dollars to manage a data breach.The security crisis faced by tech companies and the substantial financial investments required to address and recover from such breaches was a motivation for Dante to build solutions that focus on addressing these challenges, particularly from a secrets management perspective.
A lot of companies don't care about security. They are not proactive about security. They're more reactive. So they want to always find out what happened when they get breached, but they don't wonder or they don't try to mitigate it before they get breached.
Many companies, and even individuals, do not prioritize security, with only a small percentage actively caring about proactive security measures. The prevailing approach tends to be reactive, with organizations seeking solutions after a breach occurs rather than taking preventive measures to mitigate risks. Even when preventive measures are implemented, they often suffer from a lack of continuous updates and ongoing monitoring, rendering them ineffective in addressing the evolving security landscape. This observation highlights the need for a comprehensive and proactive solution to ensure robust security practices.
Even the preventive measures that might have been in place are not constantly updated or even active.
By offering a collaborative and simplified platform, Onboardbase enables development teams to securely share environment-specific configurations, synchronized across all stages of development, infrastructure, and teammates.
Building Onboardbase, with its focus on dev tools and security, has presented Dante Lex with numerous challenges, particularly due to the difficulty of gaining recognition and support in a space that often lacks attention. As a solo founder, Dante faced the additional hurdle of earning trust and securing investments.
Dante admits that building trust is essential when developing dev tools and security solutions. He emphasizes the importance of proving oneself over time, and while Onboardbase continues to face struggles, it has made significant progress. One key factor in their advancement has been the ability to connect with customers who genuinely believe in the value of Onboardbase as a solution. Dante attributes this success to his personal network and the relationships formed through mutual interests.
Highlighting the power of networking, Dante stresses that friends can often be the best initial investors. Many of his current investors originated from Twitter connections, where shared interests eventually led to investments. This emphasizes the significance of forging strong connections with a potential investor.
"I tell people that your very first and best investors are friends. But by friends, I don't mean people you might have known for long. They are the people you've probably met, and you just become friends. My current investors, most of them I met through Twitter, and we developed genuine friendships. Initially, they didn't start off as investors; it began with a friendly relationship based on shared interests, and later they expressed interest in investing in our product."
He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to focus on building their network, as investors are more inclined to support someone they know personally and understand their thought process. These early investors can pave the way for attracting further investment by introducing their own network of connections.
Despite making progress, Dante acknowledges that finding the right product-market fit remains an ongoing challenge.
We are still trying to find product-market fit, and we're experimenting a lot. It's been tough because trying to sell security is very hard, especially for people who don't even think they have the security need until they have a data breach.
Onboardbase continues to experiment and refine its approach. Selling security, he notes, is particularly challenging because potential customers often don't perceive a need for security until after experiencing a data breach. Patience and actively building what customers require are key elements in navigating this obstacle.
Dante also emphasizes the significance of long-term thinking and targeting enterprise teams. The current leaders in the security market are those who cater to enterprise needs. However, breaking into the enterprise sector is not easy, and Dante suggests starting with an open-source tool to gain traction and build an audience. He acknowledges that he learned this strategy later in his journey but recognizes open source as a cost-effective way to access the enterprise market.
Throughout the process, Dante's team plays a vital role. He believes in hiring security-conscious individuals who understand the problem they are collectively solving. Even if they don't start as security engineers, they possess a basic knowledge of security that allows them to comprehend and contribute effectively to the company's mission. This alignment within the team ensures clear communication, resonates with investors, and aids in effective marketing efforts.
By maintaining a passionate and dedicated team, actively addressing market needs, and conveying the "why now" and "why us" aspects to customers and investors, Dante has navigated the challenges of building Onboardbase and continues to adapt to market dynamics. The team's shared experiences and commitment to solving a pervasive problem in the industry have been instrumental in their progress thus far.
Several strategies have contributed to Onboardbase's rapid growth and progress within a short time frame. Despite the perception that Onboardbase has been around for much longer, Dante attributes their accelerated success to their deep understanding of the product's design and experience. As a product designer himself, Dante ensures that the team delivers a seamlessly designed product, thanks to the exceptional skills and dedication of his team members who can implement his vision flawlessly. He emphasizes the importance of enabling his team to do what they need, as this fosters exceptional execution and propels the company forward.
Dante firmly believes in building a strong team that shares a common vision. He particularly stresses the significance of hiring engineers who are invested in the success of the product. This shared passion enables the team to exceed expectations and deliver beyond imagination. A focus on revenue from day one, has helped Onboardbase maintain financial stability and grow steadily.
Regarding investors, Dante sought those who not only provided financial support but also believed in the company's mission. He attracted top individuals within the dev space industry, including senior product designers and founders of leading DevTools companies. The shared language and mutual understanding of the industry fostered a strong partnership, enabling valuable collaborations and brainstorming sessions. These investors became more than just financial backers—they served as a supportive network and a valuable support system for Dante.
At Onboardbase, a crucial aspect of their strategy is balancing speed and security. For security to be effective, it must be collaborative, especially in the context of engineering teams. By providing tools that promote collaborative security, Onboardbase ensures that engineers can work at the speed of light while maintaining robust security measures.
We have developed collaborative tools that prioritize security. This means that when you need to share sensitive information, the process is as fast as lightning, all while remaining within a secure infrastructure.
Onboardbase's growth can be attributed not only to the innovative product but also to its emphasis on strong relationships, collaborative security, and a passionate and skilled team. Dante's ability to build meaningful connections with investors and nurture these relationships has been a critical factor in the startup's success.
Dante Lex envisions Onboardbase becoming the "Apple for security".
Open-sourcing the product is a key step towards achieving this goal. Onboardbase aims to empower users to work faster and better while ensuring safety and security. Customers, in general, care more about the overall experience and security of the product rather than the specific technology behind it.
People need to switch from being reactive to proactive about security. And that is actually where we want to be.
When discussing the future of the tech and security landscape, Dante foresees a continuous rise in AI adoption, benefiting not only legitimate technology but also potentially enhancing hacker strategies. Onboardbase is already proactively preparing for these trends by emphasizing compliance across developer machines and infrastructure. The key to staying secure is to shift from reactive security practices to proactive ones. This involves anticipating potential threats and implementing measures to mitigate them before they can cause harm.
As hackers continue to find more sophisticated ways to exploit vulnerabilities, it becomes increasingly crucial for companies to be prepared and have robust security measures in place.
Onboardbase aims to be a leading player in the security space, they emphasize the importance of educating users about security best practices and providing tools to streamline secure workflows. By focusing on collaboration, proactive security measures, and a commitment to continuous improvement, Onboardbase is ahead of the security landscape's evolving challenges.
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