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Conversation
Highlights

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Jason Martin, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Permisso, a cloud identity detection and response platform that aims to find evil in the cloud, whether it’s inadvertent misconfigurations or malicious activity by adversaries. The company has raised $10 million in funding to date.

Key topics discussed in this episode:

  • Jason’s 25+ years of experience in cybersecurity, including his roles on the offensive and defensive side, as a CISO, and most recently as the global head of product and engineering at FireEye Mandiant.
  • The admiration for Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, and his principles of respecting competition, learning from them, and doing what they do better.
  • The influence of the book “Thank You for Being Late” by Thomas Friedman, a non-techie’s view of the major technology tailwinds that society is facing and their potential impact on day-to-day life, politics, and society.
  • Permisso’s mission to find evil in the cloud across SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS environments, detecting precursors, identifying breaches, and helping customers respond and remediate the impact.
  • The disappointment with the cybersecurity industry’s lack of progress in solving fundamental problems, despite the influx of capital and talent, due to the shortage of skilled people, the rapid pace of technological change, and the confusion created by vendors claiming to do everything.

Actionable
Takeaways

Focus on the Problem, Not the Acronyms:

Instead of getting caught up in the alphabet soup of cybersecurity categories and acronyms, focus on the fundamental problem you're trying to solve and how you can address it in a unique and effective way. Permisso's approach of finding evil in the cloud, regardless of the specific environment or attack vector, exemplifies this mindset.

Invest in Differentiated Branding and User Experience:

In a noisy and serious industry like cybersecurity, differentiating your brand through playful, engaging design and a focus on user experience can help you stand out and win hearts, not just minds. Permisso's fun, consumer-inspired branding and emphasis on simplifying complex security concepts reflect this approach.

Validate Your Vision Through Customer Discovery:

Before building anything, Jason and his co-founder conducted 100 interviews with enterprise security leaders to understand their cloud security challenges and validate their assumptions. This early customer discovery helped them refine their vision, identify design partners, and build a product that addresses real-world needs.

Embrace the Co-CEO Model with Clear Delineation:

Sharing the CEO role with a trusted partner can work well if there's a high degree of trust, respect, and clear delineation of decision-making authority. Jason and his co-founder split responsibilities based on their strengths and passions, with Jason focusing on product and engineering and his partner on sales and marketing.

Stick to Your Intuition and Vision:

As a second-time founder, Jason has learned to trust his intuition and stick to his vision, even in the face of uncertainty and the need for validation. His advice to himself would be to stay the course, knowing that the journey will be challenging but ultimately rewarding if you're pursuing a problem you're passionate about solving.

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