My name is Zaid, I’m an ethical hacker and the founder and CEO of zSecurity.
zSecurity is a leading provider of ethical hacking and cybersecurity training, we also offer a wide range of cybersecurity services such as penetration testing and consultancy services.
Because of the great feedback, we get on the above services we evolved to provide other services that revolve around cybersecurity such as our VPN and our bug bounty platform.
At the moment we have more than 600,000 customers around the world and more than 130,000 followers across our social media accounts.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
Becoming an entrepreneur was not a conscious decision, I always liked creating stuff, at the age of 12 I started my CD production “hustle” back in Iraq when CD’s were a thing, by the age of 21 I had started 3 businesses all of which have failed for various reasons.
At that age (21) I also started my first year in college studying computer science, I also worked part-time in a cybersecurity company (iSecur1ty), I didn’t have the intention to start anything new for the next 4 years as my part-time work with iSecur1ty was enough to keep me going.
Provide good solutions that would solve a problem instead of just looking for things that seem trendy, what you would love to use isn’t always what the people want, listen to the customers, develop a relationship, ask them what they want and give it to them!
In 2nd year college (age 22) the CEO of iSecur1ty approached me with the idea of teaching ethical hacking online, the thing is iSecur1ty was designed to provide free information, I was a very active member posting video tutorials every week about ethical hacking. So I didn’t think this would work, why would people pay to learn ethical hacking from me when I teach it for free anyway through the video tutorials that I post on the website? The CEO’s answer was “people want a direct and clear curriculum that takes them from one point to another”, I was still doubtful at the time but we went with it anyway, he is the CEO after all!
Fast forward a few months and the demand on my courses was crazy, so much that it would be impossible to accommodate them all, therefore the solution was to record these courses and have them online for people to buy and watch whenever they have the time, this way I don't have to be there with them and they'll still be able to ask me questions through email. This was a great solution to me too because it meant that it won’t take as much of my college time.
Things were great until 3rd-year college when needed more money, I spoke with the CEO of iSecur1ty who is a close friend of mine and he suggested I publish an English version of my courses on this website called Udemy, I didn’t think this would work because the website already had lots of ethical hacking courses and the English market, in general, is very saturated with ethical hacking and cybersecurity courses, but I was desperate and I didn’t need to do much to publish a course there because I already have the videos in Arabic, all I had to do is record the audio in English and overlay it using a video editor, so I was able to publish the first version of my English course in about a week!
To my surprise this course received even better feedback than the Arabic version, this was a huge surprise to me because this course was initially made in Arabic and it was translated very very quickly using a very bad microphone, when I saw this I recreated the course from scratch in English with much better production quality and the ratings, the views and the feedback went through the roof, for some reason people seem to like the way I teach!
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
By the time I was in my 4th year (last year) of college I had 2 courses on Udemy that were killing it, the network hacking course was already the top-selling course in the cybersecurity section (out of 1000+ courses)! By the end of this year, I got offered a pen-testing job at a really good firm, this was my dream job so accepting it was a no brainer, at the same time I could not get the idea of starting my own cybersecurity company out of my mind, I already have a decent income from the courses I already published and at the end of the day I am used to living at a low income anyway, so I can afford to be broke for one more year and if it doesn’t work I can always come back and apply for a job.
So I started working on my flagship course, this is the first time I do this full time, putting %100 of my time and effort into course production, this paid off as this course has been the top course on ethical hacking section for more than 4 years, it is also the top result in Google if you simply search “Learn ethical hacking”! 4 years later now we have 6 ethical hacking and cybersecurity courses, all of which dominate their fields, zSecurity has also grown from a teaching company to a full cybersecurity company offering services such as consulting and penetration testing. We also provide a VPN service and we have just launched our bug bounty platform to help business owners ensure their systems are secure and free of bugs. To sum it up we have more than 600,000 customers between students and the other services above!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Right now we are expanding like crazy, we have our teaching platform, our VPN, our shop, and launching our bug bounty platform this month!
The future's looking bright, we already have amazing plans to provide useful services that revolve around ethical hacking and cybersecurity.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The main thing I learned is to provide good solutions that would solve a problem instead of just looking for things that seem trendy, what you would love to use isn’t always what the people want, listen to the customers, develop a relationship, ask them what they want and give it to them!
Always be smart especially at the start, do not quit your job and start a business with 0 income, it makes no sense, I was doing this for 2 years before I took it as a full-time job, by the time I started I already had enough income to keep me going, yes I could have made more money getting a normal job but the money I was making out of my side hustle was enough to keep the lights on.
Be agile, launch the product as soon as possible, see the reaction and quickly adapt to suit what people are looking for, being agile doesn’t mean rush the project, launch a good stable product with the main features without stressing about the small details.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use Amazon AWS for all of our servers, we always prefer open source projects if they fit what we want to do, then modify the code to suit our needs.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Covered in the thoughts starting a business.
Where can we go to learn more?
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