Startup Stories: Blue Eagle Technologies founder, Phillip Vu

Tell us about your startup/ company and how it all began

During the past ten years, Blue Eagle Technologies has provided IT services to substantial clients in Canberra such as Services Australia, Department of Defence, and Telstra. In doing so, we have repeatedly seen our clients struggle with security defects in their application source code.

These defects are usually fixed by security engineers like me, and like any other code updates, they must go through the whole test and release cycle, which are expensive and time consuming. And most importantly, cyber criminals will not wait a few months for us to fix the code.

Having seen this problem again and again, we want to put an end to this, so we started AppSec Fasttrack: an agent-based solution that leverages AI, to prevent web application attacks. It’s deployed on your application server, scans, and protects your application in 15 minutes. Once deployed, it will prevent most of the OWASP top ten web attacks, and help you meet your security compliance obligations. This negates the need for hours of expensive secure coding, and hours of expensive incident response if your applications are compromised.

Finally, if you think 15 minutes is worth spending on protecting your online services, talk to us. Because a five-minute phone call will give you peace of mind and later save you thousand if not hundreds of thousand dollars.

What were you doing before you started your company?

I graduated from Curtin University in 2005 and later worked as a software engineer until I found Blue Eagle Technologies in 2009. We were the sub-contractor for many cyber security software development projects before we started AppSec Fasttrack in 2021.

What is your ultimate goal?

In investment, there is a concept called “financial gravity”: most companies will find it difficult to maintain exponential growth rates. After reaching a certain height, the financial gravity will slow them down. There are a number of products which has something special that allow them to defy the gravity; if you look around you, you will see a few of them.

I think one of the reasons why we got the grant is because our product can scale quickly and globally and our approach to leverage AI as a force multiplier, not a replacement. These two factors potentially will help us to defy the gravity, if our execution is good.

Regard the ultimate goal, IMHO, aiming at the star is good, but most people know that there is no lift to success, you must take the stair. We are just a young growing team, we still have a long learning curve ahead of us, so we will climb the stair, one step at a time.

What has been your biggest win so far?

Last 18 months since we started this start-up is a very exciting time for our team, we were accepted into:
• the Cyber Security Business Accelerator by CBRIN.
• the CSIRO’s Innovate to grow.
• Canberra Cyber Business Marketing Workshop by the Canberra Cyber Hub.
These programs taught us vital skills of an entrepreneur: networking, sales, and marketing. Through these programs and networking events, we found our first few clients and research partners. We then
• received the ICON grant in 2022.
• got selected to join the Austrade Cyber Security Delegation to the UK in September.

Then I found my mentor who I really respect. There are many great people in life who if you have a chance to work with, you will pick up a lot of good skills. In our culture, we do not use the word mentor, we use “master”, which means father and teacher. I have learned a lot from him and other mentors since I started this journey, and I am very grateful.

So far, I think my biggest win is gaining the ability to face failures, mistakes and rejections, has a system to learn from them quickly, and most importantly enjoy the process. I used to think I know and can do everything until life gave a big slap on the face in my early thirties; then I understand that I do not know much relative to what I need to know. For the startup, we still have a long way to go, probably another five to seven years. This will be a tough, but enjoyable learning journey; it is the good thing about life, isn’t it?

What does innovation mean to you?

Being a tech start-up means you must compete with all the big players. To survive, we must leverage innovation to the max, so it means everything to us. But later, we also found out that we would need to balance our enthusiasm in innovating with the market’s needs, because we do not want to build an innovative product which no one will buy.

What advice do you have for someone about to kick off their startup

Being a start-up ourselves, we still have a lot to learn. IMHO, there are a few key lessons which we’ve learned so far:
1. Protect your IPs if you have them
2. Don’t run out of money; this is a marathon, not a sprint
3. Love what you do and persevere in the long run, but be prepare to pivot in the short run
4. You will make mistakes! Listen to constructive feedback and act quickly to correct those mistakes

Finally, if you are a tech founder, very likely you are a technical person, not a sale person. I was very shy at the start, but then I found out that being a sale person, with a technical background can be a big advantage. I remember when I worked for Cisco as a senior consultant, I managed to up-sale a few times, not because I am a good presenter, but because I am honest and sincerely want to the best for my client. In the world where there are so many good speakers with too many sale tricks; being an honest, authentic and empathy sale engineer is huge advantage, certainly there is a lot to learn but don’t underestimate yourself.