The original article was published on the German Marketing platform Marconomy.
I just re-read what I reported in the interview with the Marconomy editors in the Corona summer of 2020 and what my business forecasts were. At the time, I was travelling through Europe on an e-bike. In the end, it didn’t quite turn out to be 3000 kilometres – only 2600 to Tallinn. I arrived there at the end of August 2020 and have since founded 3 new companies.
My Cybersecurity EdTech Cyttraction, with which we revolutionise training around data protection, IT security and other risk topics, is an Estonian OÜ. This is a construct similar to a German GmbH, except that the foundation costs only 190 euros in fees and can be done completely digitally, as well as accounting, taxes and other authority issues.
I used the time savings right away and quickly spun off our Mahina Diverse Tech Accelerator in between. This lays the foundation for the promotion of young tech founders.
Then there was the question of how we were going to conquer the US market… while travel was not possible, leaving only the internet and digital platforms to make any headway at all.
As the headline suggests: somehow it worked out and besides Cyttraction OÜ there is now also Cyttraction, Inc. based in Delaware.
But perhaps a brief background – why do we want to go there at all?
I think by now everyone has understood that Europe is not the cradle of innovative digital business models. Especially not when they are linked to infrastructure issues. The same applies to the area of IT security. While in Germany a lot is prevented by bureaucracy and the quick, thoughtless call for “data protection” – including the use of security solutions – the US market is much better positioned in terms of both technical solutions and awareness training.
With Cyttraction, we wanted to grow constantly and internationally from the very beginning. Besides, our European customers also have employees who are distributed all over the world. So it didn’t make sense for us to operate only in the German-speaking environment, and our work processes are also mainly in English. The only challenge – how do you get into the market?
Besides diligent online networking, one thing in particular was helpful: it’s all about learning. And compared to local providers, we also offer the added value of knowing the European market and the regulations here as well as local sensitivities. This is in contrast to many American security companies that are only active in their home market and perhaps in Canada.
Since we have not yet found an investor for our hybrid business model, we did not need to build our own platform or launch a costly marketing campaign. Also, the story around our planned CyberLab – a converted flat to conduct real-life cybersecurity research and document it accordingly – is of course not something we can tell as long as we don’t have the budget to build it.
So we had to work with what we have. These are mainly great experts with whom we have been analysing and re-puzzling all aspects of learning in private and business environments for some time. That is an existing network. And in addition, there are external platforms on which a start-up can first establish itself and build a community without having to provide the IT infrastructure itself.
The courses are of course about data protection and IT security. First, I implemented our content and didactic findings in an English course and asked the first users for extensive feedback. I then incorporated this feedback into the German course. Next, the English course will be supplemented and updated. This goes on and on, because users can work through the courses again and again due to lifetime deals.
Admittedly, we “lose” more than 60% of the turnover to the platform provider and the lifelong membership does not correspond to our Cyttraction business model, where users or their employers take out an annual subscription. But we are reaching first individual customers and multipliers outside Europe with these short basic courses. This is how Cyttraction, Inc. has made its first 100 USD profit in a very short time.
If you’re wondering why we don’t just cobble together a low-budget learning platform ourselves and put it online – after all, that’s what many other start-ups do – you haven’t considered one thing: the worst thing that can happen to a learning platform on risky topics is to become a risk for its own customers. The increasing number of successful hacker attacks in recent years has shown that online platforms in particular are a popular target. In order to operate them according to high data protection and security standards, a 24/7 team of specialists is ideally available. And that brings us back to the issue of costs.
The motto is therefore to conquer the market(s) step by step before we shoot ourselves out of the running with an ill-considered action.
So what remains is cooperation with American learning platforms – and a YouTube channel.
Since the Cyttraction story is not really interesting without CyberLab – how long can you show floor plans and plans to refer to a project without the viewers falling asleep? – so another story had to be found. Since, as CEO, I don’t have to pay myself any fees for filming, but at the same time I don’t want to be on the internet with my private life, I was left with an interesting topic that also works without travelling: my now more than 5 years of experience in the international start-up scene.
Thankfully, business and investment videos on YouTube are experiencing a hype right now. And of course, the whole thing had to be in English, as that’s how we reach a majority of our potential customers. So I will be posting two videos a week until the end of the year. Always under the motto “True Business”. Each time I will go into more detail about one aspect of setting up a business – and look forward to viewer feedback and general insights when it comes to producing even more exciting videos.
After all, with Cyttraction we are not competing with other training providers, but we are competing with our content for the overall attention available to users. And in the digital age, this is often also dependent on short-term trends.
From a marketing point of view, we hope that those who are interested in business topics will also find risk topics around their company interesting and perhaps later enjoy our CyberLab videos. My experience with my blog Digitalisierung jetzt! has shown how important a good community is and how much you can build on it.
On the side, the Estonian part of Cyttraction continues to grow independently and makes sales with online workshops and our social learning integration based on Microsoft 365. With this, we particularly inspire companies with especially high security requirements. So we are a bit old school in Europe and digitally very far ahead in the USA.
From a strategic point of view, two companies under one brand can conquer two markets and grow steadily with their own budgets.