This Entrepreneur Maxed Out His Credit Cards to Build a Business That Helps Companies Protect their Data
The president and CEO of Data443 shares how his company secures and manages organizational data wherever it exists.
Today we are talking with Jason Remillard, the president and CEO of Data443, which is focused on data security and privacy management.
Jessica Abo: Your company helps other companies prevent extortion and ransomware attacks. How do you do that?
Jason Remillard: We develop software and services that are privacy-first focused but are rooted in good security practices and capabilities. The one thing with this new privacy legislation that's spreading across our world, which is a great thing, a lot of those capabilities are just really rooted in good security posture, practices and capabilities. In the old days, some of this capability was very expensive, very high-end and only the world's largest banks and defense contractors could actually use it. I'm democratizing it for smaller organizations to consume and make it more cost-effective.
You maxed out your own credit cards as leverage for your business. How did you go from that place to a NASDAQ listing?
Long story short, I started to support Bootstrap, a piece of technology called ClassiDocs, which is a piece of software that goes through data and classifies it. Identifies what is sensitive, what is not. Knowing after about a year or two that we would have to find some sort of marketing or a funding event to bring it to market, I decided at that time to do a reverse takeover of a shell company, essentially. And then that allowed me to raise money. From there we proceeded to do numerous corporate actions and these sorts of things to bring us to the apex of a NASDAQ listing at this point.
How did you come up with the name of your company?
We're really focused around data security as an underpinning to privacy. So 443 is the port that Secure Socket Layer runs on, which is HTTPS. So if you type in your browser, you go to a bank, S is a secure socket layer. It runs on 443. So we're Data443, data security. So our ticker symbol is ATDS, All Things Data Security. It fits into the name Data443. NASDAQ won't let us have a ticker called D443. They don't allow all numerics. So we tried.
Got it. Why did you choose this nontraditional approach for going public?
At the end of the day, it is a path that I was able to manage a lot closer, as opposed to handing over the reins to a large banking firm, and hoping for the big IPO. We were able to manage it closely along the way, too. The other difference, too, in this case, when you are onboarding staff and investors, other early investors as well, is your equity is tradable and liquid at the time. So it is an advantage when you're recruiting and stuff, you're not just handing out stock options to an employee who may be able to sell it on a big funding event. Literally the time you're issuing them, they are tradable at that time, too. So it's a different scenario, certainly.
What advice do you have for someone who has maxed out their credit card limit?
Certainly, you're going to have to watch that very closely. All the games and tricks you could play certainly. But really at the end of the day, you've got to be focusing on revenue. It's not something you can abdicate your responsibilities for, obviously, from an organization perspective. It's really the number one job of an entrepreneur is to keep money in the till.
You’ve said being a CEO is mainly about being a program or project manager. Tell us more about that.
For me, it feels much like you're really managing a very large project plan. If you've done them before, in Microsoft Project or some of the other tools, you'll see there's a lot of dependencies you have to manage. You have to really look out for things that are way out there and you have to bring them in. And you're looking at things that are multi connected and impact each other. Really, a business has all of those dependencies and impacts. So if you're good at tracking tasks, but also looking at risk and capabilities and elasticity and these sort of things, it is very much like a project plan where you are able to move things around, perhaps change dependencies, switch out resources, or whatever else you're looking to do, to get things done.
Before I get to my last question, I have to ask you about the unicorn you have in your office.
Yeah. I like having reminders all the time of what we're doing. The unicorn, specifically, is a reminder to everybody here, especially me, though, that a lot of our competitors have multi-billion dollar valuations in the first round or two. And we do not. But we compete and win every day against them. So it's something to be proud of, but also aware of as well.
Finally, what's your piece of advice out there for someone who is flying solo?
Probably your best partner is going to be another customer when you're going up against the heavy hitters. Certainly you could have the best tact in the world, but still lose all these sorts of things. It is tough, obviously. But you really should pick one to help you through some of that, and be that reference account, stand up for you. Maybe they won't be able to be on a press release for you; certainly in our business, almost none of our customers will stand up and be on a press release, but they will do private references. They will do reference calls. They will do these sorts of things.