Heineman shares startup experience

(Photo by Virginia Lin/Student Publications)
Kevin Heineman, the VP of Engineering and Chief Technical Officer of Damballa, a startup company in Atlanta spoke to Tech students as part of the IMPACT Speaker series at the LeCraw Auditorium in the College of Management on Nov. 3. The IMPACT series brings highly successful entrepreneurs from a variety of fields to share their experiences with Tech students. Heineman was also instrumental in the success of another startup, SPI Dynamics, which was sold to Hewlett Packard in 2007.
“I felt honored to introduce someone who boasts such an impressive resume. I got the opportunity to do so because I volunteered for an Impact class that is offered in the Management school,” said Margaret McFarland, a fourth-year MGT major who introduced the speaker.
Heineman introduced himself and began talking about how he got involved with startups after having worked with consulting firms and corporations like Ernst and Young and Worldspan. His first startup venture was SPI Dynamics, a company which produced an assessment tool that would scan web applications for security vulnerabilities. The tool essentially acts like a hacker and tells the user about the holes within a website and what to do to prevent any damage. One of the interesting aspects of the talk was when Heineman went on to talk about the early challenges faced by SPI during its startup phase.
“Customers didn’t understand the need, as they might not have faced any loss of data. A third of the business value was unknown.  The technology was unproven as it was in an immature stage. We targeted people who would be able to take the risk on a new technology and understood the complexities of internet security,” Heineman said.
SPI Dynamics started making positive cash flows soon and was bought out by Hewlett Packard in 2007. From starting out as a small company with a small staff of employees, SPI was suddenly part of a corporate giant.
Heineman then found himself as part of another startup named Damballa, which was founded by a team of Tech researchers. As a new company in the security space, Heineman plans to bring what he learned from his experience at SPI to Damballa and take it to success as well.
Billy Kihei, a Masters student in EE said, “We are starting to see companies in the technical side at the IMPACT series which is a nice change from the retail and philanthropy startups that have come earlier. Anytime I go to something like this, I like to apply it to my own music startup I have with a few of my buddies.”

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