He was no stranger to information and communication. He used to sell newspapers. Today, he has come full circle being the founder of Defencely.com, India’s fastest growing 360 degree security company. His name: Ritesh Sarvaiya. These days, he heads a company that gives clients peace of mind knowing that their information isn’t accidentally leaked and their communication isn’t arbitrarily breached. Tall order, that, especially for the young newspaper seller of a few years ago. But Ritesh always knew he was on his way to somewhere else.
In the Age of Snowden where cyber security and privacy have become buzzwords, he now finds himself with the singular task of protecting e-commerce giants and other corporations in and out of India from any and all external threats. That doesn’t sound geeky as much as it is daunting, especially that every modern business company is now inescapably hooked to the cyber grid.
Daunting is the journey that Ritesh had taken to reach this point. Inspiring, too. Nobody believed in his dream to build India’s biggest security company. But Ritesh knew one thing, and he never veered from it. He has always known that vision is a dream with a timeline. And because of that, he knew he only had to strategize his dream and now there—shining, glistening, splendid—at the end of the rainbow is his vision in the form of Defencely.com.
“I remember the days when I used to sell newspapers and at the end of the day, I got paid 120 rupees. But during those days, too, I kept my goals very high and continued to strive to reach the highest levels in life,” he says with a certain clarity in his voice that comes only from remembering every single step he took along the way.
One of those steps was a huge lesson-forming experience. Before setting up Defencely.com, Ritesh had formed his first company which he grew from 5 to 180 employees in a short span of 4 years. While neck-deep in the operations of the business, he found out too late that he had been kicked to minor shareholder position, and then ultimately taken out of his own company. However, a wonderful thing happened while he was picking himself up from that fall. He took the lessons to heart and promptly sowed the seeds of what was to become Defencely.com.
Armed with his personal savings, unrelenting vision, back-breaking work, and sheer guts, Ritesh set out to put up the company that he wished would banner India across the globe. He saw an opportunity upon learning that global IT giants put up bounties for finding bugs in their system. He wanted to offer a valuable tool to these users. Thus, he promptly assembled a team of hackers from around the world and started Defencely as a full-fledged 360 degree security company. The next 8 months saw them vigorously marketing and promoting the company until e-commerce portals started availing of their services. The company has since been dedicated to conduct testing for web applications, networks, and mobile Infrastructure. Today, the clientele counts some of the major Indian and global e-commerce companies and other business establishments.
Ritesh defines what makes his company unique. “We are completely different from current security providers, as we do very minimal use of scanner. Most of the work is done by individual security researchers who have years of experience in this field, and they work with Defencely from different parts of the globe. Defencely offers a deal where our experts manually root out all vulnerabilities and patch them up for the companies.” He adds that his team of security researchers and penetration testers do not only give clients the kind of comprehensive security sweep they need to keep their applications and information secure all the time, but they also firmly believe that web security is an ongoing process, and not a one time job.
As shown by Defencely’s steady growth, Ritesh is proud to say that the company has been fueled by the passion and perseverance of his team that set its sights squarely on the road ahead. He describes it further with a personal philosophy, “It doesn’t matter where you come from or what your past is. It doesn’t matter if you’ve failed hundreds of time. What matters are your intention, vision, and sense of innovation. As you grow and become mature, you get a greater sense of responsibility.”
The man who has taken the mission to keep e-commerce enterprises secure from all possible threats isn’t one to buckle down from impossibilities. After all, his professional task at Defencely trains him every day to expect the unexpected and deal with it right away. He is at the forefront of confronting threats and surmounting them, that is why he always has his sights focused on solutions. That mindset further adds to his cache of wisdom culled from experience.
I sat with him to gain his observations and insights. The ensuing conversation was surely enlightening.
What are the biggest challenges in starting an entrepreneurial business?
Ritesh: For me, the biggest challenge is mindset. If you think you can take risks, then go out of your way to make a difference in the world. Sooner than later, you will find yourself turning into an entrepreneur. When I lost my empire of 180 people, I quickly decided to restart my journey from scratch. That called for guts and a mindset to ignore failures. To just keep moving forward to achieve my vision. That gave birth to Defencely. When you’re a start-up, hundreds, even thousands, of obstacles will come your way. You need to be extremely mindful and have tons of patience, and to cultivate the insight to make the right move during tough times. Many times we see people give up just when they are about to break through. The real challenge is growing the business against all odds. The people will see your vision in the long run. I guess, that’s perseverance.
What keeps you motivated?
Ritesh: I’ve always been of the belief that it’s never too late to start over. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, then simply try something different today. Don’t stay stuck. Do better. Frankly, Defencely is growing against every possible odd, and thus outshining every expectation. When we started, people said it won’t work. They even made fun of it. But it’s been 3 years now and we are the ones smiling as we grow at a stable pace. If I have to answer your question honestly, I would say that it was the people in the past who said we won’t make it that actually motivated us to otherwise make it. Also, my wife Tejal and son Rikhav are my real source of personal inspiration. They inspired me to go past all the setbacks and re-grow from zero.
Real Strength behind Defencely’s rise is core team who is working round the clock to ensure best of services provided to the clients. He also adds without Key players like Shritam Bhowmick, Rakesh Singh, Raj Sukali, Nishant Gaurav, Gagan Jattana etc this vision wouldn’t have come to reality in such a short time. Lastly he sends his sincere appreciation towards Manish Chhajed, who is co-founder Defecnely and incharge of Business Development for Indian & Asian markets.
Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
Ritesh: As far as Defencely is concerned, I would like to see it emerge as one of the most dependable 360 degree security companies on the global stage, with the expert support from the best security researchers from India and across the globe. My vision is to make it the world’s biggest private team of researchers that serves under one roof. Defencely is also working towards making a mechanism whereby no security researcher has to come across any duplicate issues while doing their work. Also, that they get paid for the quality time they spend working towards testing the application. That’s being fair to them.
Recently we heard of the Ganna.com hack, can you give us some insight on it as a subject matter expert?
Ritesh: Well, it’s very unfortunate to see India’s biggest publication house get compromised in such a manner. Personally, I believe this is a result of not inviting companies like Defencely, that are actively involved in working with the best security researchers in the world. We are on a relentless mission to keep portals impervious to threats. We are currently into niche services like manual testing and code review for the web/mobile applications. Honestly, it was the use of traditional scanners and different coders coding the same application that became one of the vulnerabilities allowing for the hack. Overall application security should be layered. Otherwise, the critical threats within the application can surely lead to compromise in no time.
Also, we need to understand that there are no Institutes or Colleges in India that teach standardised coding or how to write a vulnerability-free code. In a situation like this, it’s critical to hire subject matter experts like Defencely that can secure vulnerable environments. As far as Indian e-commerce giants are concerned, they feel offended when someone reports to them about critical level threat. If this mindset can change, we can secure more web applications and save them from repeated hacking.
You seem to know your trade like the back of your hand. We would like to know what advice you can give to fellow entrepreneurs.
(Ritesh gives several nuggets of wisdom in his signature succinct way. I will just enumerate them below, as they all seem like useful and enjoyable quotable quotes.)
1. Respect everyone, no matter where they come from. Everyone has something valuable to offer.
2. Give space to your fellow team members. Everyone needs to grow and you should never be in the way of their growth.
3. The more you trust, the less disappointed you will be.
4. Raise yourself, but don’t lower anyone else. Don’t make it your aim to be the one to beat the leader. Have a goal to be the best at what you do regardless of competition.
5. Empathy is important when making a decision that involves other people. Try to understand how a particular decision affects someone and try to think how you would feel in the same situation.
6. Be helpful. If you genuinely understand the struggles that you faced, you would know that sometimes just a little bit from you could mean so much to someone else.
7. Be positive, walk away from the negative. Always try to avoid negative people as they are of no value to anyone. But never shy away from constructive criticism.
8. Don’t hold grudges. Revenge is the most pointless thing that humans ever invented. It gives you nothing. It actually consumes you.
9. Give the benefit of the doubt to people. Do not jump to conclusions. Evaluate everything carefully and see if someone genuinely made a mistake or if it was deliberate. In most cases, it is a genuine mistake.
10. Lead with conviction. Conviction is the most important tool to achieve anything. A strong leader always knows what he wants, and will find ways to get it.
To say that Ritesh Sarvaiya, in all of his 35 years, is a successful entrepreneur is an understatement. He is, after all, a certified innovator. But beyond that, he is a visionary in the age of cyber challenges. He is a man of ideas. He puts great premium on the idea. For him, it is ideas that change the world.
The story of Defencely, like the story of its founder, is a tale of struggle—and the human capacity to overcome the odds brought about by such struggles. Out of the difficulties, the one with the vision is the last man standing. “Vision is king,” he says. “And when you don’t give up and just keep chasing that vision, it becomes a miracle.” The man who deals with the real-world and real-time challenges in the cyber age believes in miracles. He has an operational definition of it that has been distilled from the lessons of hard times. He thinks that miracles do happen, even in the cyber age. This is because all successes are achieved by human beings, and humans make those miracles. That is why miracles do happen.
“Once you decide to march on, difficulties will come. Don’t look back and don’t give up.” That’s the mindset of the classic hero. Ritesh Sarvaiya who has known odds – and beat them – possesses the story arc of the classic hero. No wonder he knows how miracles look like.
What’s your opinion of BuddyBits?
Ritesh: I personally believe that this one of the best and fastest growing platforms that features a wide variety of content. I am amazed to see your social media reach. So, all the best to you, guys, and keep growing. Personally, I would like to thank you all for covering the real human story behind Defencely and making the world aware of our struggle to make a difference.