Rohan Daniel Nair, the Founder & Chief Operating Officer for a Dubai-based cybersecurity startup, AHAD walks us through his journey as an entrepreneur and shares his experience to create a successful and profitable company that has grown by 400%
What is AHAD and what was the driving factor to launch the company?
n November 2020, at the height of the pandemic, AHAD was introduced. Despite businesses closing as a result of cybercrime, we saw a chance to start AHAD and combat cybercrime while also having a positive effect on businesses by assisting them in protecting their operations and vital assets globally.
The escalating frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks, which highlighted the urgent need for more robust cybersecurity measures, were the primary drivers behind the implementation of AHAD during the COVID-19 time. The World Economic Forum highlighted the urgent need for action by estimating the staggering $6 trillion in damages brought on by cybercrime. The regularity and severity of cyber-attacks have increased in tandem with the rise of digitalization and the expansion of sensitive data online storage and sharing. This has led to a demand for efficient and trustworthy cybersecurity services and solutions. In response, AHAD has stepped in to change organizations in a secure manner by giving them the knowledge and skills necessary to become cyber resilient.
Red team involvement, vulnerability management, penetration testing (PT), adversary simulation, and incident response were among the additional services that AHAD provided. (IR). These early-stage start-up offerings offer clients a complete range of offensive security solutions that have assisted organizations in identifying and mitigating risky vulnerabilities before they are used by attackers, all while ensuring that they adhered to the most recent industry standards.
What inspired you to choose the name AHAD?
“AHAD” signifies “One” or “Unique” in Arabic. As a business, we have been distinctive in the protection services we provide to clients. In the first year after the company’s founding, we were able to acquire significant enterprise and government clients thanks to our strong threat intelligence and offensive security skills. We now have 45+ clients who have used our services and solutions in the last two years to defend their networks and data from cyberattacks. We take great pride in the fact that we managed to upend the established system integration industry and changed how businesses viewed safety.
How did you raised the capital to fund this venture?
We are a bootstrapped business that has already generated 400% revenue growth and attained profitability, which has excited investors’ interest. Our seed round is currently being opened, and we have already had fruitful conversations with prospective investors. By completing the seed round by Q2, 2023, we will be able to attract additional funding and quicken our development trajectory.
What challenges did you faced in the initial phase of your startup and how did you overcome them?
We were aware that starting a business in the Covid era would be difficult. However, once we realized how knowledgeable and skilled our starting partners and team were, we were confident that we could succeed despite any obstacles. We also did! Despite competing with well-established players in the UAE area, we secured significant customer details in just two years.
Cybersecurity is a crowded space, what is your strategy to find your niche and how do you intend to grow?
Although there are many chances for innovation in the field of cybersecurity, there is fierce competition. As AHAD we initially focused on being a pure-play cybersecurity company known for its offensive security and intelligence capabilities alongside providing strategic advisory, consulting, design, implementation, and comprehensive security assessments to help organizations identify critical risks and become cyber resilient.
We specialized in providing services that the majority of the established players lacked, such as intelligence, offensive security, expertise on regulatory compliance to evaluate risks and prove compliance with mandatory compliance regulations, data protection, and legal requirements.
We concentrated on producing the finest technical reports in the business. Each outlines any perceived vulnerabilities that we have found and is tailored to the precise scope of the endeavor. The reports provide both the probability of exploitation and the potential effect for each vulnerability. They are written to be simple to read but thorough in their conclusions. Each weakness also comes with a remediation plan for reducing the risk that goes along with it.
Since the launch of AHAD, how has been the reaction from the market?
Since its debut in November 2020, the UAE market has responded extremely favorably to AHAD. The government, healthcare, telecom, BFSI, and large enterprises are just a few of the main industry verticals from which we have already attracted 45+ customers. This positive market reaction is evidence of how well AHAD works to assist companies in securing their cybersecurity environment.
We are constantly searching for fresh approaches to improve the value of our products to customers. We accomplish this by working to develop new features for their current product products or by developing an entirely new solutions offering. This enables us to develop along with the industry and guarantees that the solution we provide is current both now and in the future.
We have also managed to amass a number of honors during the course of our voyage up to this point, some of which are:
- Got chosen to participate in the Sandbox initiative by DTEC (Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus).
- Selected as a Global Finalist for the Entrepreneurship World Cup from among the Top 100 Companies out of 30,000+ Competitors from 200+ nations.
- Won the UAE championships of the Entrepreneurship World Cup in 2022.
- Won the 2022 Innovative Company of the Year Award from DTEC (Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus).
- Were asked to participate in Demo Day and speak at the largest startup and investor gathering in MENA, Step Conference.
What is your key market at present and how have you grown since you started your company?
Currently operating in the UAE, we intend to extend to Saudi Arabia in 2023. The growth we’ve experienced since our launch in November 2020 has been phenomenal, but by 2025, we want to extend into the Middle East, Levant, and Africa.
What are your plans for this year?
We at AHAD will have a hectic year ahead of us! We have a number of exciting things in the works, one of which is the imminent launch of AHAD in the Saudi region. We also intend to launch our managed security service this year. We’ll offer the complete range of cyber defenses, including those that identify, protect, detect, respond to, and recover.
The product range for the AHAD B2B cybersecurity marketplace will continue to be developed. This year, we’re going to concentrate on improving the platform’s usability and accessibility while also introducing new features.
What has been your biggest learning as an entrepreneur?
I now understand that there is always room for learning. Every day, we encounter circumstances from which we can learn something fresh and beneficial for our company.
The proper founding partners and team are also crucial. It’s simple to get lost in your own ideas, but if you don’t surround yourself with people who can contribute their unique views and skills, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Kindly offer your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and startups.
Get inspired by the individuals you are around. When working for a new startup, it can be simple to fall into a rut, so be sure to spend time with others who share your interests so that they can question your ideas and keep things interesting!
As a new entrepreneur, don’t be hesitant to ask for advice or suggestions. It is always preferable to ask for advice when you need it rather than attempting to figure everything out on your own. People are typically more willing to give advice than you might imagine.