The Internet is awesome. But just like the real world, it’s filled with bugs and danger and viruses (weird grouping of nouns, but all true, no?) Decrypt Links wants to make sure you stay away from these online pests by helping users decrypt and analyze short, hidden URLs so they know just how safe the link is. We caught up with founder Rian Visser to talk about police officer beginnings, taking the entrepreneurial leap, and giving back to the community.
How long have you been an Internet Entrepreneur? What have you been doing before and why did you decide to become one?
I have been a police officer for almost 14 years, after which I joined the banking industry as a fraud investigator. While a fraud investigator in the police services, I was the founder of the Computer Crime Division. I wrote several training guides with the aim of educating police officers in the investigation of online crimes.
Since my days as investigator I had a tremendous interest in becoming an Internet entrepreneur, but –like most people – was too afraid to give up my full-time employment to take a chance on becoming an Internet entrepreneur.
At the end of the day, the urge of taking the plunge and make the change, got the better of me. I just needed some motivation to take the step, and will never look back again!
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
I needed a name to suite my new venture, which is all about decrypting short URLs. It took a couple of days looking for a name, and eventually found a perfect domain name – decryptlinks.com. The domain was already registered, but not in use. In order to acquire the domain, I had to negotiate a deal with the owner and purchased the domain.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I started off as an Internet entrepreneur in 2010 alone. Two years later I have three permanent employees and employ 4 freelance coders to assist in various projects.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
In 2010 I was employed on a managerial position in the banking industry. For some time I hesitated whether I should quit my career and start off as an Internet entrepreneur.
One morning I gathered all my ‘guts’ and compiled and handed in my resignation. In my last month I worked around the clock in ensuring that my Internet business will take off by the time I leave my full-time employment.
From my first day as Internet entrepreneur, it was clear to me that this industry requires hard work and dedication. At some times an Internet entrepreneur would need to ‘Gamble’ when decisions are made and investment in projects required.
My advice is that Internet entrepreneurs must be dedicated and hard working. It will often be required that you work 18-20 hours per day. Follow your instincts, do market research and stay up to date with the industry you are in. Do not give up, no matter how desperate you or times are. In the end, everything will come together!
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
As an Internet entrepreneur I face frustration quite regularly. Whether I am frustrated with the pace at which projects are flowing, or simply frustrated that not enough money is made faster.
I have come to learn that one need to calm down. Do not take your frustration out on others! My motto is not to worry, as about 90% of all things you worry about never come to light!
What’s your office environment like?
My employees have the opportunity of deciding whether they wish to work from home or office. Whether we work from home or office has no relevance as our income solely depend on what we put into our business.
Our office set up has been developed into an informal set up, where we meet customers in a home, have discussions in a living room or do planning on a dining room table.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I plan to grow our business into one of the most successful online ventures in providing security solutions to Internet users.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by any Internet entrepreneur making a success Online. Successes achieved by others are an indication to me that I could do the same.
As for extramural activities, I love playing chess at clubs, watching movies with my family or just to increase my music and book collection. I can’t stand video games.
How’d you fund this venture?
Initially, I financed this venture myself. As server requirements grew, I obtained funding from an insurance related company, who was a user of the venture.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Be creative. Look for opportunities. Offer professional services and focus heavily on customer care and service.
Clients / customers are ultimately what makes or breaks an online venture. In order to satisfy your clients / customers, ensure that you offer them a user-friendly and creative service.
Do not focus your attention 100% online, as there will be opportunities offline as well. Do not let these opportunities slip through your fingers.
We believe in paying back to the community and launch at least 1 or 2 free community safety projects each year online. If possible, give back to those who support you, it will only let you grow stronger!
Take my family on a well-deserved break to the US.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
I left my full-time employment and started my Internet entrepreneur career earning only a mere $54 the first month. (Yes, my family already had that “we told you so” look on their faces!)
Today, on a bad month, I earn at least 5 times my salary when I was employed full-time.
I would consider myself successful, but I am sure that I could be more successful and it will take a positive attitude and even more hard work to achieve even greater successes.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
Google & Yahoo News – These are two websites I read up each day in order to stay up to date with the latest technology and Internet news. Not staying up to date with the latest news will set me back in the same industry where I need to make a living from.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
TechCrunch and Engadget – Gives me that extra tech news when I am not at the office!
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet?
What’s the greatest thing about DecryptLinks?
It has the potential of preventing unsuspecting Internet users from falling victim to online scam and spam.
Any upcoming projects?
I am currently working on an online IP-address investigation service where users can conduct a number of IP-related searches / lookups. I plan to launch the service within the next two months.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
Thanks, Rian! Keeping us safe on the streets, and now Online. I like it! Check out Decrypt Links for all your short URL decrypting needs.
Rian Visser / decryptlinks.com