TiE Tuesday with Anup Ghosh
A data breach is the single largest threat that companies and organizations face. September’s TiE Tuesday guest speaker, Dr. Anup Ghosh, Founder and CEO of Invincea, set out on a mission to combat them.
On September 19 at MakeOffices in Tysons Corner, fifty fortunate TiE DC members and guests had the opportunity to hear from Ghosh about his journey from working for multiple companies to starting Invincea, a venture-backed software company that provides malware threat detection, prevention and pre-breach forensic intelligence. Ghosh shared the story through to the company’s recent acquisition by Sophos, a security software and hardware company. The discussion was moderated by TiE DC board member Mahesh Joshi, Director of Research & Practice at the George Mason University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Ghosh was asked a variety of unique questions about his entrepreneurial journey as well as his life journey that has helped him to become the successful leader that he is. Here’s a small glimpse into what he shared with the audience at the first TiE Tuesday event of the Fall season!
Many people are born entrepreneurs and others are made entrepreneurs. When posed with the question to identify himself as one or the other, Ghosh said that he doesn’t believe that he was born an entrepreneur. He believes that he was born a problem solver and that the core reason to start a business is to solve problems.
Joshi described problem solving as one of the three P’s of entrepreneurship, the other two being passion and people relations. Ghosh stated that he is a problem solver and the passion for cybersecurity came naturally to him. He deems that cybersecurity is a domain of electrical engineering, which is his background. He started in the cybersecurity industry in 1996 when it was very new, and it clearly has paid off. As for people relations, Ghosh was taken by surprise because he always considered himself to be in the books and focused on grades, but realized that his written communication skills helped him. He said that he has always been a writer — he has published three books, written multiple articles, and now currently blogs.
Being an effective communicator and skilled problem solver helped him succeed at the different companies where he worked. Ghosh expressed very enthusiastically that working at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was an experience that he would not trade for anything because it gave him the courage to go do whatever he wanted to do. It essentially put him in the mindset that he knew he should pursue Invincea without a doubt. However, starting and running a business has its ups and downs and, as Ghosh said, the journey has more downs than ups. He delved deeper into this by talking about reinvention and failure. Ghosh shared that he gave a talk on the 10 Biggest Mistakes he made and that each mistake contained a failure. He emphasized that you’re going to fail multiple times but it’s all about how you pick yourself back up and learn from that failure. He mentioned that he and his team built wrong products multiple times; their technology was great but the product wasn’t a good fit for the market. So, they kept trying until they nailed it!
Such perseverance comes naturally to entrepreneurs but there is still a good deal of perseverance that is learned over the years by entrepreneurs alongside many other personality traits and life lessons. What was one of the biggest lessons that Ghosh learned which facilitated Invincea’s success? Humility.
He said that there’s an interesting dichotomy. He cleverly articulated that, “I left DARPA with brimming confidence. When you write really large checks, like we did at DARPA, everyone tells you how brilliant you are and how funny you are. It’s amazing how popular you are.” However, as an entrepreneur, life comes at you fast and hard. He expressed that he realized that while he thought he could do it all, he really couldn’t. He had to hire exceptional people to run finance and exceptional people to put together marketing programs. Ghosh shared that as the company grew in scale, he knew he couldn’t keep doing all of that on his own and understood that he needed to bring in people with subject matter expertise. He said, “The dichotomy is that humility really helped me bring in the best people and relinquish control to them.”
This was just a brief look into what Ghosh talked about — the rest is definitely a “you had to be there” event! See the TiE DC Facebook page for photos from this event. Check out the TiE DC Calendar to join upcoming events with successful entrepreneurs and industry leaders.
— Kavita Priyadarshy