15 Feb 2018 | 03.12 pm
Interview: Dennis David, MyCrypt
US entrepreneur Dennis David chose laid-back Dublin to develop his cybersecurity ventures
15 Feb 2018 | 03.12 pm
Former US Marine Dennis David (pictured) swapped Washington for Ireland to establish a business in Dublin four years ago and hasn’t looked back. His base is the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin 8, a bustling community of entrepreneurs drawn from all over the world.
David’s first business in the US, Agenda, provides tech support services and has been operating for 25 years. He also developed two other activities: NetDefender, which has a focus on cybersecurity, and MyCrypt, which has devised a multi-factored authentication model for information and data transfer and sharing.
MyCrypt offers enterprise-level encryption, audit trail transparency and a feature to lock down files if they are copied and moved from an office. The MyCrypt process is designed to ensure that not only is data protected through encryption but also that the party accessing the data and using it is the intended party. “All that stuff that Edward Snowden did wouldn’t work using MyCrypt – he wouldn’t have been able to take it with him,” says David.
In 2014, David formed AgendaSec in Dublin to manage his IP and corporate assets. “I didn’t want MyCrypt based in in America so I researched IP and data protection laws worldwide. Germany and Ireland rated the best, and as my German isn’t good Ireland became the choice.”
The former military man met with Enterprise Ireland and the IDA to get the lay of the land for incoming investment. “Neither of them could fully understand the business, but they did direct me to the Dublin Business Innovation Centre,” says David. “I work with an advisor in there who is great.”
The entrepreneur found the GEC through a Google search for office space. He met GEC manager Eamonn Sayers and was sold. “He’s probably the best resource this place has. He knows everyone, and he cares about the people and the companies here. The GEC convinced me to have the guts to pull the trigger and do this, so I packed up my family up and we moved over here.”
Currently employing seven people, David finds that doing business in Ireland is more laid-back in than where he comes from. “In the States, if I’m coming out to fix your computer I’m going to have a one-page contract before I touch it. Everyone wants to sue everyone else for anything you can think of. In Ireland, it’s more the way business used to be. It’s a handshake, you look someone in the eye and do business with them, rather than doing business with a stack of paper.”
As David scales up his Irish operation, he’s making the most of the benefit of operating in a relatively small market. “The US is like a big lake, in which you’re a tiny fish,” David explains. “In Ireland I’m a pretty good sized fish in this little pond, and that feels good. I do speaking engagements and get involved in some of the cyber security stuff. In the States there are ten more guys behind you who will talk about the same thing.
“Ireland is a good place to start. The market here is good to hone your product, and Ireland is also springboard to get to the rest of Europe. I’ve had interactions with Estonia, France, Spain, Germany etc. It’s amazing to have such an amount of varied cultures in an open market – it’s brilliant and works very well.”
A challenge is finding skilled staff, David concedes. “I’ve made inroads with Trinity and UCD to find promising computer science graduates. I also look for candidates who are disciplined, so I try to find former Irish Defence Force guys who will have a shared language with me right from the start.”
David sees growth prospects around the introduction of the EU’s GDPR data protection legislation. “GDPR is no joke and SMEs need to take note. The little guy in the office next door to me has the same legal requirements as Apple around data protection.”