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Hire the right person, in the right role, at the right time

QuoIntelligence is a European agency providing tailored threat intelligence solutions, blending machine learning with expert analysis

Please introduce yourself and QuoIntelligence to our readers!

I am Marco Riccardi, the CEO and founder of QuoIntelligence. I have a deep experience in threat intelligence and have worked in multiple cybersecurity roles in diverse organizations from the Italian military to Deutsche Bank. I am by nature suspicious and don’t believe anything at face value. I verify sources and validate before accepting something as fact — and encourage others to do the same. I am also fairly averse to personal publicity but I am happy to make an exception here.

So why did you decide to start a company?

QuoIntelligence is the realization of a lifelong dream. I always wanted to work in cyber security and deep-tech, lead a talented team, and compete with them at the highest level. However, I wanted to earn my leadership through leading by example and having my team follow me because of my skills, not hierarchy. I also wanted to work in an intelligence agency and use all my resources beyond my technical skills, including leadership, creativity, design, analytics, passion for geopolitics, storytelling, coaching, marketing, and more. My ultimate goal was to help others be safe and prevent crime while making an impact.

I am an ultra-competitive person, never want to lose and always see ways to improve. I enjoy failures when I can learn from them, and I am passionate about learning from others’ failures to avoid the same mistakes. Most of my career was in enterprises or major public organizations, but I left because I realized I was making zero impact. I realized that I wasn’t making any meaningful difference. For example, after having left an organization its market valuation didn’t change at all, whatever role I’d done. I needed something different.

And working in a startup is totally different. What you do has a direct impact on the business. Leading a startup gives you the opportunity to touch multiple things and learn from them. So now, after around 20 years working in the EU, I am now building my own cyber intelligence agency.

When I had the opportunity to create QuoIntelligence, I didn’t think twice, even though I had never considered creating my own company before. It was the best decision I have ever made. 

What is the vision behind QuoIntelligence?

To help create a world where people and organizations know and understand their security threats and effectively get what is needed to be prepared against them.

From the idea to the launch, what have been the biggest challenges so far and how have you financed yourself?

I had the luck to meet to Ari Bizimis from Mercurius Private Equity, the investor of the previous company I used to work at (QuoScient). Ari was the one who proposed me to start my own company with him as the first investor. 

As my first startup, the first challenge was to move from a team leader to an entrepreneur, and hence covering roles that I’ve never covered before, at least in a professional way. Doing market research, forecasting budget, developing a business model, and putting down a strategy were the first things I had to do that were initially outside my comfort zone. Starting a startup really requires the ability to be a good generalist, and be able to contribute in multiple fields at the same time. 

What is QuoIntelligence’s target group?

In terms of sectors, we work with companies across many areas. These include Finance, Manufacturing, Retail, Transportation, Government and more. And geographically, we tend to look at firms headquartered in the European Union. But any organization above, say 500 employees who has a cybersecurity function without its own threat intelligence resource is a potential customer. For others — where they have from a threat analyst and above — we can also provide more advanced and specialized services that support and complement their limited resources.

That’s why for us it’s important to assess the Threat Intelligence Maturity Level (TIML) of a company. Our range of services takes this into account and we create unique solutions tailored to an organization’s TIML from our three main solution groups of Digital Risk Protection, Threat Intelligence and Risk Intelligence.

How does QuoIntelligence work? What are the advantages? What differentiates you from other players?

We blend our own machine learning and AI solutions with the deep insight and experienced judgment of our world class threat analysts. Information from our advanced technology is refined by our experts in cybersecurity, geopolitics, data science and communication to produce what we call Finished Intelligence. This is further tailored to our customers’ specific needs and gives them three vital things: time efficiency, resource efficiency — our service can reduce TI budgets by up to 98%, and ensures management spends only what is needed to minimize the current risk level — and peace of mind.

The threat intelligence industry is served by many different players. However, unlike many players, QuoIntelligence is fully-focused on threat intelligence. In a sea of vendors, we partner with our customers. Clients see us as a trusted Intelligence Agency, they know there is a human here that cares about them, speaks their native language (something we particularly care about), and available when needed. Customer feedback plays a major part of our product roadmap — they feel part of the story.

Last but not least, we are a European company. Unfortunately there are not many dedicated Threat Intelligence providers in the EU, and in a fast-evolving geopolitical scenario where digital-sovereignty is becoming critical being made-in-the-EU matters.

QuoIntelligence, where does the journey lead to? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Our first goal is to give to the EU community the local Threat Intelligence provider it deserves, and protect it from current and future threats. Next, we want to compete with the major billion-funded American competitors at the global level. I see QuoIntelligence reshaping how the Intelligence discipline is seen and known, and we’ll make it accessible to any company/org, from an SME to a F100.

Regarding myself, there is this famous statement “If you were a millionaire, what would you do? The answer is your dream job”. 

My answer to this question is doing exactly what I’m doing right now, and I realise this is exactly what I ever wanted. In five years I hope to keep having the privilege of doing what I’m doing right now. 

At the end: Which 3 tips would you give to aspiring founders?

Hire the right person, in the right role, at the right time. This is my personal “success triad”. Companies are driven by humans, you need a top team you can trust and delegate important functions, especially at the beginning. A single wrong hire at the beginning could heavily jeopardize the entire story.

Laser-Focus. Focus on a specific problem at time, provide the best solution for that, then move on to a wider scope.

Be data-driven. Measure everything you do. Numbers rarely lie, and you can’t improve if you don’t measure. Financials, Sales, Marketing, your product KPI, your customer satisfaction, overall employees mood, team performance, etc. Everything can be measured with the right tool and methodology. You might start looking at the wrong numbers, getting biased data, etc, but you will fix and get better ones. There will always be margins where data either cannot be collected or can’t help you fully, but it will be always better than not having anything at all and run the company blindly.   

Thank you Marco Riccardi for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsaesser is an experienced entrepreneur and media/startup expert. Since 2016, she has served as the Chief Editor and CEO of StartupValley Media & Publishing. In this role, she is responsible for managing the company and providing strategic direction for its media and publishing activities. Sabine Elsaesser takes great pleasure in assisting individuals and businesses in reaching their full potential. Her expertise in establishing sales organizations and her passion for innovation make her a valuable advocate for startups and entrepreneurs.
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