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Founder Friday: A conversation with Tracie Thompson, Co-Founder of HackHunter

There is no point in having fantastic technology if no one wants it or if it cannot be used to solve their problems.

Tracie Thompson

HackHunter, an innovative Australian startup, is on a mission to fortify the security of WiFi technologies.

HackHunter specialises in pinpointing WiFi threats with remarkable precision Tracie, with a history of running a successful security company, saw a gap in WiFi security in organisations.

Many didn’t know what WiFi gadgets lurked in their space, and even if they did, confirming their legitimacy was a headache. Pooling their skills in security and electronics, Tracie and Mike birthed HackHunter. Their smart solution, blending security know-how with Mike’s tech prowess, beefs up WiFi security big time.

Tracie Thompson recently sat down for an interview with Dynamic Business, sharing profound insights into HackHunter’s origins, her path as a founder, and the unique challenges faced by women in the dynamic landscape of emerging technology. 

The beginning

In 2018, Tracie and Mike Thompson, armed with two decades of cybersecurity expertise, noticed a common issue: organisations were clueless about unauthorized WiFi devices in their spaces. Inspired by a Reddit discussion where an IT pro faced WiFi interference sans solution, HackHunter was born.

Tracie recounted the initial spark that led to HackHunter’s inception. “We realised most organisations have no idea what unauthorised WiFi is in their environment and whether it’s a threat or not.  With virtually everyone being dependent on WiFi, we knew this was a serious problem. The initial idea came from a discussion Mike found on Reddit, where an IT professional was complaining someone was interfering with their WiFi network, but they didn’t know and couldn’t find what was causing the problem. The discussion concluded there was no easy way to find if there was a device in the area causing the issue. 

Tracie recounted the initial spark that led to HackHunter’s inception. “We realized most organizations have no idea what unauthorized WiFi is in their environment and whether it’s a threat or not. With virtually everyone being dependent on WiFi, we knew this was a serious problem.” The inspiration came from a Reddit discussion where an IT professional faced WiFi interference without a solution. Tracie noted, “We thought we could solve the problem, and that’s when we started working on HackHunter.”

“We thought we could solve the problem and that’s when we started working on HackHunter.”

Strategies for growth

We use novel manufacturing methods such as additive manufacturing (3D printing) for all our products. This gives us greater control and oversight throughout the manufacturing process.

Tracie dedicates HackHunter’s growth to their focus on solving a universal problem and close collaboration with partners and customers. The development of WiFi tracking devices addresses various challenges faced by organisations, leading to a broad, global customer base.

“We focused on solving a problem every organisation is dealing with and one that hadn’t been fully addressed previously. We develop WiFi tracking devices that aim to address the challenges faced by many organisations such as compliance, bug sweeping and law enforcement. We work closely with our partners and customers to develop our products, and, as a result, we have grown a broad, global customer base. 

“Another key decision was to base ourselves out of innovation hub and startup incubator Stone & Chalk. This has given us access to a network of peers, as well as experts in both cybersecurity and building successful businesses. 

The distinctive aspect of HackHunter lies in the convergence of cybersecurity, physical security, and IoT. Tracie emphasizes their commitment to innovation and invention, resulting in groundbreaking patented technology. “What sets us apart is our focus on innovation and invention, which enables us to develop ground-breaking, patented technology new to the market.

“We also use novel manufacturing methods such as additive manufacturing (3D printing) for all our products. This not only minimises waste but gives us greater control and oversight throughout the manufacturing process.

Going beyond our tech, we also actively engage with communities such as Stone & Chalk, Security BSides, TSCM (technical surveillance countermeasures) and Thingiverse (3D printing), which helps us stay on top of the latest advancements in the ever-evolving security landscape and foster collaboration.”

Overcoming Challenges

I have learned that it is imperative to get out of the office and talk to people. You never know where a conversation will lead. 

Navigating the myriad use cases for HackHunter’s technology posed a challenge, but identifying “true believers” and actively seeking customer input proved instrumental. Tracie’s advice: “It is imperative to get out of the office and talk to people.” Personal connections and understanding customer pain points have been pivotal in the company’s growth.

“There are so many use cases for HackHunter’s technology it has been a challenge to identify which areas to focus on. Over time we’ve met some “true believers” who have placed their trust in us to see how  HackHunter can help to solve their problems. These advocates have introduced us to their respective industries and been very clear on their pain points, and we’ve worked with them over time to develop a solution specifically for their use case.”

“From this, I have learned that it is imperative to get out of the office and talk to people. You never know where a conversation will lead. Once you’ve found the people with the pain points, you can help to address them and it is essential to work with these people to develop a solution that actually solves their problem.  These conversations and connections have been pivotal in allowing HackHunter to grow and expand our customer base.”

‘Learn from shared experiences’

Tracie’s advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs centers on building a supportive network, unwavering commitment, and adaptability. “Surround yourself with like-minded people,” she urges, emphasising the importance of learning from shared experiences. Determination, flexibility in problem-solving, and a customer-centric approach are essential for long-term success.

“I find it really helps to learn from someone else about how they approached an issue, and the support and understanding you get from others who are on a similar path is gold.

You must also be committed and believe in what you’re doing because you’re going to be living and breathing it for the next 10 years.  You won’t have the luxury of changing your mind, you need to be all-in. 

“You need to be really determined because you will face many obstacles. Each one will be different and will need a different approach, so you need to be flexible and have confidence that you can work out how to solve the issue.  

Lastly, always work with your customers and listen to their needs and feedback. There is no point in having fantastic technology if no one wants it or if it cannot be used to solve their problems.”

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