Requestee: Makes Finding Pentesters as Easy as Ordering Pizza

Pentesting – which means having your own app or network checked for vulnerabilities – is a matter of survival for digital business models. However, the processes it involves are quite complicated. The Munich startup Requestee wants to change that. We spoke with co-founder Fabiola Munguia.

Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do at Requestee? Please introduce yourselves!

Fabiola Munguia, Requestee: I’m Fabiola, and I’m originally from San Salvador. I’ve lived in Germany for eight years and am studying for my Master in Management and Technology at TUM. My co-founder Grigory also went to TUM, which is where he earned his Master in Management. Before that, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in Hannover. We’ve known each other for quite some time and have worked on several university projects together. During that time, we noticed that we get along and complement each other well, which is why we wanted to do something cool together.

Grigory worked in the automotive industry in sales, and that was where he noticed how difficult it is to buy pentests. It is a very traditional line of business in which you have to write to and verify many providers. Then you have to talk with them to get offers that can often be very, very long. They can be up to 50 pages. On top of that, it is very difficult to compare offers from pentesting companies.

Grigory discovered the problem and we started working on it together. We’ve made really good progress since then: We are part of Xpreneurs, have partnerships with AWS and are in the accelerator program at Hubspot.

Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?

Fabiola Munguia, Requestee: Imagine you’re a startup with a business critical application. That means if something happens to the application, you can no longer conduct business. That’s why people usually perform a pentest before launching this kind of application. With a pentest, you hire an ethical hacker who tries to attack the application and find vulnerabilities or security flaws. If they discover any, they provide a report with all of the relevant information.

As easy as ordering pizza

The general problem is that many small and medium sized companies or startups don’t necessarily have the time to deal with who is going to perform the pentests, the market is far from being transparent. The processing when you order a test is also complicated: It can take months until you receive an offer and accept it. That is why we want to simplify the process with our product and solve everything with an all-in-one platform where you can create a project in mere seconds and immediately receive offers from pentesting companies that have already been verified.

Our USP is that we only work with verified companies. We have an excellent process that we go through before accepting someone on the platform. We perform a background check, look at the customers they’ve worked with, read the customers’ reviews and ask those customers about the quality of their services. And thanks to this rigorous process, small and medium sized companies no longer have to verify the companies themselves because we do it for them. Our aim is to establish trust and user friendliness when buying pentests. It should be just as easy as ordering a pizza.

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Fabiola Munguia, Requestee: Of course there are competitors who offer to make pentests available. What differentiates us from those platforms is that Requestee only works with certified companies and not directly with freelancers. Many of our customers would prefer to have a pentest from an external company instead of a freelancer. A company has a reputation to uphold, a profile and is much better suited to work with companies in terms of liabilities.

The right business model for Requestee

Munich Startup: What have been your three biggest challenges so far?

Fabiola Munguia, Requestee: Our first challenge was understanding the entire scope of the problem. Cybersecurity in general is a very broad and complex topic – which means understanding the problems it involves isn’t easy simply because there are so many. We had to work intensively with customers, conduct interviews and ask why this part of pentesting is a real pain point.

The second problem was finding the right business model. We started with a traditional marketplace business approach where you demand a take rate from sellers when something is sold. But after different iterations, we realized that offering users more information about pentesting companies for free would improve our model. We’re testing that right now. We’re also about to go live with a supplier directory, which is much like LinkedIn for pentesting companies. That means if you want to find pentesters in Germany now, Requestee is the first port of call since there’s no other website that offers more detailed information.

The third challenge is obviously the corona crisis. You might say it turned our entire business upside down and we had to do a lot of pivoting to survive the crisis. We usually did business at conferences or pitched there and tried to gain customers. Now we have to do everything online. But that’s also helped us a lot because it forced us to automate our sales processes. We started with webinars and blogs, which we now use to cover online business. Our goal is to be the place to go for pentesting and everything having to do with a secure home office. People should be able to simply visit our website to learn more.

Goal: 100 pentesting companies in Germany

Munich Startup: How is business going?

Fabiola Munguia, Requestee: Our goal is to have more than 100 vendors from Germany on our list by the end of the year. A double-digit number of pentesters have already been verified. We’ve also already conducted several pilot projects with companies that needed actual pentesting. Moreover, we’re in an AWS program for startups that is helping us develop our first MVP.

Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?

Fabiola Munguia, Requestee: Munich is a startup ecosystem where everybody knows each other. Nonetheless, it’s difficult for founders from abroad to build a network from the ground up. TU Munich and Xpreneurs played a big role in this respect, because they made it possible to interact with founders and companies that have experience in marketplaces or cybersecurity. We think that these kinds of communities are an essential component for a rapidly growing VC and founder ecosystem. That’s exactly how Silicon Valley evolved.

Munich Startup: Apple or Android?

Fabiola Munguia, Requestee: For my phone, I would say Android because you simply have more apps and I absolutely love the camera from Android. I make all my social media posts with it. As for the office, equipment in particular, we like to use Apple, too.