Women in IT Security, Women to watch

Maggie Louie: scoring hits with cybersecurity startup

Maggie Louie, is CEO of cybersecurity DEVCON.
Maggie Louie, is CEO of cybersecurity DEVCON.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that about 20 percent of new businesses fail after their first two years. That sobering figure didn’t faze Maggie Louie when she launched cybersecurity software company DEVCON Detect in 2017.  

The impetus for the business came from her uncovering a scheme involving hackers exploiting third-party JavaScript to steal ad revenue and distribute malware though partner code.  

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Since then, DEVCON grew quickly, and, in fact, surpassed its 2020 forecasted revenue.  

“The advancement of our products and ease of deployment is part of that success, but we have also been able to advance channel sales with reseller partners that is driving much of the growth,” said Louie, who is also DEVCON’s CEO and one of SC Media’s 2020 Women to Watch. 

Louie is relatively new to the cybersecurity world, starting out as a musician, recording six albums with a New Orleans-based band Buttermilk and embarking on a solo career in 1999 highlighted by a Billboard-charted single. And she spent most of the two decades before co-founding DEVCON working in various areas of digital publishing or print magazines. 

Louie’s discovery of the adtech scam resulted not only in the hacker’s federal conviction and four-year prison term, but also presented an entrepreneurial opportunity in a constantly evolving, growing field. DEVCON co-founders COO Casey Hester and CTO Josh Summitt shared her vision to “democratize security” by offering free community DevSecOps tools, monitoring and protection. 

“When we started, we thought we were stopping a problem in MarTech," or marketing technology), Louie said. “We now know that it’s the underlying JavaScript that’s at the heart of ad threat as well as all sorts of client-side threat like Magecart attacks.” 

The company expanded its software to address these security gaps and provide holistic JavaScript security across all industries, including ecommerce, banking and healthcare. 

Since teams are tasked with so many new security concerns, amid COVID-19, “we wanted to reduce need for on-prem implementations, lengthy testing and costly overbuilt solutions,” Louie said. In response, DEVCON offered easy-to-install plugins with zero-code implementation in less than five minutes.  

The pandemic dampened Louie’s plans to fill a new headquarters in Memphis. Her hope was to hire 30 to 50 employees by October 2019 for the location.

“We’ve gone a little slower than planned, like many. But that said, we continue to make many new hires,” Louie said, adding that 100 percent of the team is currently working remotely and will continue to until further notice. “The safety and comfort of everyone is the most important thing,” she added. 

Louie’s book "The Nanoscopic War – Democratizing Cybersecurity and other Tales of F*&kery" debuts in November, aiming to educate less technical C-suites and consumers about the real dangers facing every aspect of our connected lives.  

Louie offered the following advice to other fast-growing startups:  

“Hire slow, fire fast. Always be filling the bench so you have the luxury of options. Culture fit is one of the more challenging parts of hiring and most critical to fast growth. A bad culture fit can be toxic, slowing the whole company down.” 

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