Barely 20 when he founded San Jose, California-based Lok Technology in 1999, engineer Simon Lok had trouble connecting with potential customers. So he called three people he met as an IT consultant. Their referrals helped Lok, now 26, seal his first integrated security hardware sales. "The lesson to be learned is that you never know what the repercussions of the things you do will be," he says.
Although his first line didn't take off, Lok used input from those first customers to fashion Airlok, which combines security and network management functions normally associated with separate firewalls, routers and authentication servers. Lok Technology now has 12 employees and about $1 million in 2004 sales. It hopes to at least double that number in 2005 by selling Airlok directly to wireless ISPs while inking manufacturing contracts for the technology with larger networking vendors interested in producing volume editions under their own brands. At press time, several such deals were in the works.