Kevin Valk is founder of Codian, a service that hunts your source code for security bugs on every commit and automatically submits a pull requests to mitigate the issue. Accepting the pull requests and you can write secure software while focusing on what you do best, making a great product.
Kevin is a graduate of StartupLeap and he has just finished UtrechtInc tech validation program. Read his story and learn how to balance your life.
Why did you decide to become a founder?
I always dreamed to be an employer, one that provides a positive work environment, and a place to grow and develop. That was one of the main reasons to start a company, so I can become the ultimate employer that I wished I had when I was still an employee.
How did you find the problem and the solution?
While working in my previous job I saw many aspects that could be improved. I analysed them and came up with potential solutions. During StartupLeap and in the UtrechtInc Validation Program I started testing it more seriously. Finally, I found a pilot customer that I could really test upon.
Do you have a co-founder and if yes, what’s the best thing about her/him?
A “potential” co-founder, but regardless, I can really understand him and I think he really understand me. So I would say, our connection!
What surprised you the most about being a startup founder?
That it is much more than just solving a (technical) problem. You are in it completely, your whole (current) life. So if you have a significant other, you better align, if you have a personal life, you better balance, etc.
What’s the coolest thing about being a founder?
Thinking as big as you can. The possibility to conquer the world or make it a better place and just dream!
What’s the worst thing about being a founder?
The worst thing is that if you do not get out of bed, nothing will change. You are (currently) alone and you need to bring your dream to reality.
If you can go back in time, what would you do differently?
Sit down and really talk to my significant other on what this means for me, but more importantly for us. How are we going to still enjoy life together, is every single minute of my life now dedicated to my company because that’s not a good idea. How do we still enjoy our life together? It’s really important to find balance between your startup and spending time with your family or loved ones.
How did you approach your first customers?
Funny story, I was actually approached by them as they where searching for pointers on how to get their security reviewed. The office coordinator at UtrechtInc directed them to me.
What’s your advice on approaching investors?
Well, I do not have investors yet. My goal is to bootstrap myself as much as I can. However, I feel that you need to have a very clear goal on what you are going to use every euro for. If you would give me a million now, I would have no clue what to do with it. So make sure you do have a plan before getting money in.
What advice would you give to an early stage entrepreneur?
You are in it for the long haul, sit tight and enjoy the ride! It will be bumpy, you will probably puke a few times but you will learn so much, definitely making it worth it!
How do you see your idea in 10 years?
Well in its final form, it would be a very good Artificial Intelligence doing most (if not all) of the security research for us. All the security analysts (hackers) that we have are doing complex advanced things that the AI can not yet do. This combined, lets us serve any customer from all around the world!