I first met my co-founder, Domingo Montanaro, through a mutual friend who worked in Adobe Security.
Domingo has a storied pedigree in cyber security: He was the technical person behind the first prosecution for internet crime (this is before the term cyber crime!) in Brazil. He led teams that have prosecuted hundreds of internet criminals responsible for over $500 million in online fraud. He cofounded as CTO the largest digital forensics company in Brazil, IBP. He also created the cyber threat intel lab methodology behind iSight Partners as well as developed/managed their Latin America operations. iSight partners was acquired by FireEye in 2015 and isn’t the first company that Domingo contributed to, that was acquired.
A year before I met him, Domingo had gotten an inspiration about social media while recuperating in a hospital. He raised money, hired a team and put his considerable talents and energy to creating Gabstr.
Gabstr was aiming to be a hyperlocal, group messaging app. The idea was that anyone in a given area could message other Gabstr members on a variety of subjects ranging from how crowded different restaurants/bars/other venues were, to interacting with locals to learn about hidden gems in the zone, to customers interacting with store owners on service, inventory and other subjects, and so forth.
The purpose of the physical area restriction was to cut down on the incredible amount of noise associated with existing internet-wide social media. The primary social media platforms deal with this noise via “friending” or other access filtering mechanisms, but the flaw with this approach is that it creates a solipsistic world with little opportunity for fresh ideas.
In any case, I was asked to help Gabstr get going – Domingo had moved to San Francisco to test out Gabstr in the big pond. Long story short: Gabstr had great technology and an interesting premise, but too much was spent on product development and too little on product/market fit or even identifying and serving an initial group of early adopters.
Ventura came about because, as I worked with Domingo, I became aware of his tremendous cyber security background. As Gabstr wound down due to the Series A chasm, I asked Domingo to think about starting a cyber security startup because of both his tremendous background and because cyber security was an enormous growth area in my view.
It is now more than 2 years since Ventura Enterprise Risk Management was founded. We have generated 10x revenue in our first 18 months vs. our initial fundraising, and are cash flow positive despite investing significant resources in developing 2 new products.
So far, so good.