by Cameron Baker, ELEFense
Shira Shamban is the Co-Founder and CEO of Solvo, a cloud-based security company that has made tremendous strides revolutionizing the mechanics of cybersecurity. Ms. Shamban boasts a long and successful career in the business tech industry, from leading research development teams at Dome9 Security to volunteering at non-profit tech security organizations. We at ELEFense were very excited for the opportunity to speak with Ms. Shamban and allow her the chance to share her inspiring and impressive story.
Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? And what led you to your current position as
Co-Founder and CEO at Solvo?
“I started my professional career in the military doing intelligence from different aspects that are more technical. I also studied biomedical engineering at Tel Aviv University. I still have a dream of becoming a doctor one day so I figured that that might be helpful. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to learn more about the tech industry so I just went out there. I actually participated in an accelerator in San Francisco called 500 Startups where I got to learn about the tech industry. I thought entrepreneurship was what I wanted to do but I wanted to learn a little more, so I joined a cloud security startup and had the time of my life. I established a research team and started doing public speaking worldwide as well as engaging with the company’s customers.
After the company got acquired, I figured that now is a good time to start my own thing, so I grabbed one of my colleagues, David Hendri, to become my CTO and Co-Founder, and we've been working together for Solvo for two and a half years.
Other than that, I'm very involved in the security industry. I volunteer in a non-profit
organization called OWASP creating benchmarks and educational materials for application
security. I'm the co-chair of the Israeli chapter. Other than that, I also have a mentoring project called Security Diva. We have a mentoring event around here in Tel Aviv. I just try to contribute as much as possible.”
Can you just talk to me a little bit about Solvo and what it does?
“Of course. You’ve probably heard about this thing called ‘the cloud’, a technology that helps organizations build applications when they don't have to manage the bare metals of their infrastructure. It’s been super popular over the last almost 20 years, and as technology shifted towards the cloud, we also learned that we need to adapt new security methodologies to secure those applications running in this new infrastructure.
The reality is that, like always, the technology moves faster than what we as users can do and the bottom line is that there are many security incidents that happen because of bad security
configuration of the cloud infrastructure. Many companies have tried to solve it before but
mostly what they did is point at misconfigurations or other issues that the user did wrong and needs to address. As we talk to users, we realize that this approach causes a lot of anxiety and not as much relief.
When David and I looked into this we decided we wanted to find a problem that we can solve and we decided on the problem of misconfigured cloud infrastructure. What we do is combine two interesting worlds together: the infrastructure and the application. We analyze the behavior of the cloud application and craft the necessary security configuration for the cloud infrastructure. I'm not gonna tell the user, ‘Hey you did something wrong, go and fix it.’ Instead, it’s, ‘Hey, here is the new security configuration for your application. Good luck!’All you have to do is just click a button and the magic happens: your application is secured. Once connected to Solvo, we can make your application secure on a secured infrastructure in a few hours. It's very satisfying to see how fast we can reduce excessive permissions by 80 to 90%, significantly reducing the potential attack surface in your environment.”
How do you think making meaningful relationships with your employees has helped you in
“It's all about relationships. When David and I started this venture, we knew we were here for the journey. Of course everyone dreams of a big M & A or IPO and we know that we're here for the success, but we're here for the journey as well and the journey means the people. In order to have a successful journey, we need to have a healthy workplace with healthy relationships in a place where people can feel comfortable being who they are and asking questions. It's a team effort all the time so even if you as an individual want to succeed and you don't want other people to slow you down, that doesn't matter. This is not a personal sport, this is a team sport.”
How would you describe the culture at Solvo?
“I'm happy to say that we’ve created a very healthy and pleasant workspace. You can even see that in the way our office looks: it has a homey sensation. We have a living room right at the entrance where people just chill and or watch TV or have coffee together, and we have a very large open space. Most people sit at the open space, and I think that this demonstrates a kind of value that you can see through the physique of the office.
Other than that, we really believe in transparency. That means that you get honest feedback that doesn't come from a place of criticism, but from a place of knowing that if you evolve and get better, we as an organization get better, so we give feedback that will help you get better at what you do and what interests you. Everyone has their areas of expertise where they want to get better. They want to be more successful, they want to learn new technology, and we're happy to be able to accommodate that and help them grow into the next position that they want to have. It has a lot to do with the communication and what you tell your boss.
We have the help of an organizational psychologist as well, to help us build a path for each one of our employees and again, it's a team effort, but even on teams sometimes you have one-on-one training.”
What is something you're most proud of in your career?
“One of my biggest accomplishments is that after the previous startup got acquired, the
corporation that acquired us was not dog friendly. It was a big company with a few thousand
employees, who am I to set my demands? I never officially set it as a demand but they changed the dog policy because I have a dog and I used to bring her to the office. This is a huge impact I think on the lives of many people, that this company is now dog-friendly!
But jokes aside, I think that every time I was able to make a difference for a single person, it
means the world and I'll give you an example:
I said before that I occasionally do public speaking. One of the places where I speak is at an organization called She Codes. It's an Israeli non-profit that helps women learn how to code and get their first job in the tech industry. A few years ago, I went to one of the meetings to give a very technical talk about network security. One evening, I drove to Be’er Sheva, gave the talk, and went back home to Tel Aviv.
A couple years later, I'm at a different meeting and this lady comes up to me and says, ‘hey you gave a talk about network security back in Be’er Sheva,’ and I said ‘yeah’ and she said, ‘I saw you there and thanks to you, I started studying computer science!’ I was like ‘whoa!’ I was so happy to hear that, and people don't even understand how meaningful such an encounter is. She didn't have to come and talk to me and she did and I was very happy and thankful because this kind of feedback motivates me to drive to far places and prepare a talk. You need to make sure you can deliver it professionally and then you drive places or you stay up very late at night if it's over Zoom or something, so you have to put some effort and this is what motivates me to put that effort.”
What advice do you have for someone who's just starting out in business, as someone with
such a successful business journey?
“Wow. I would say find the right partner. You don't have to have a Co-Founder, but you need to have partners for that journey and you need to find the right people who you trust and are
committed as much as you are because it will get even tougher.”
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Cameron Baker works as a Sales and Marketing representative at ELEFense, specializing in
content creation. He is originally from Boston, Massachusetts and attends the University of
Michigan in Ann Arbor. He is studying Economics and Political Science and is working towards a career in Marketing, Investment Banking, or Public Service.