Stu Sjouwerman of KnowBe4

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Stu Sjouwerman, the founder and CEO of KnowBe4, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of KnowBe4 – what problem were you trying to solve and why?​

Realizing that the human element of security was being seriously neglected, I decided to
start KnowBe4 and help organizations manage the ongoing problem of social engineering using
new-school security awareness training. I’m a serial entrepreneur, and KnowBe4 is my fifth
startup. I saw that security awareness training done right was a greenfield of opportunity.

I sold my last company (which built antivirus tools) in 2010, and after a whopping five days of
retirement, I looked back at the biggest problem and decided to venture into another startup.
Later that year, I partnered with Kevin Mitnick (the world’s most famous hacker and
KnowBe4’s Chief Hacking Officer). Over the last 10 years, we’ve gone from startup to the
market leader in security awareness training and simulated phishing, helping over 31,000

​What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Managing the business through an extended period of hypergrowth has been both the most
challenging and the most rewarding in my journey as an entrepreneur. I’ve even given some
thought to writing a book on managing a successful business during hypergrowth. Let’s face it,
despite our best efforts, sometimes things break. It’s not about how or why it happened, but
rather how you fix it and move forward that matters most in your overall success. ​

What does the future hold for KnowBe4?

KnowBe4 is in a period of hypergrowth that I don’t foresee slowing down any time soon. We’re
continuing to grow, evolve our business model, and develop powerful new features for our
customers. Security awareness training is still a greenfield market, so there’s a lot of opportunity out there to help organizations make a real impact when it comes to their security programs. I would not be surprised if in the long run, KnowBe4 becomes a household name. ​

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Clearwater?

I keep saying that being in the Tampa Bay area is a massive competitive advantage. Great staff
and much lower prices than areas like the Valley. This area is becoming known more and more
as a tech hub with companies like ours and others coming onto the scene here.​

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Correctly estimate the time and money it will take. Most startups are woefully underfunded. It
usually takes twice the money and three times longer to get to a viable level of sales. Make sure that you’re able to put in the time and effort that it will take to make your business a success.
You have to be willing to wear many hats in the startup phase and once you get going, hiring the
right people is essential. Make sure you hire happy people!


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series