One year ago, I decided to start my own company, and it is called We Hack Purple.
When I decided to start this company, I wasn’t actually 100% sure what I wanted to do. I had found myself suddenly unemployed, because my previous startup had failed. Unsure of my next steps, I did what any Internet nerd would do, I posted on Twitter that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself and asked if anyone wanted to make suggestions. Person, after person, after person asked me to start a training company. Several people offered me jobs doing application security or developer relations work on behalf of their companies, but the most common request was “Will you come in and train our devs?”. Since I love public speaking, teaching and mentoring, it seemed like it could be a good fit.
At first, I started by creating a small online community, and posting content for them to read about application security. Before I knew it I had over 100 members! After about 6 months I decided that I wanted to find a new platform for us, one that would allow everyone to talk to each other, not just me. I didn’t want it to just be “The Tanya Show”, I wanted it to be a community where everyone could share and shine. I also wanted a safe place for people to talk about everything to do with security, and know that no one would harass them or be, well, “Twitter” at them. Last week we just relaunched the We Hack Purple Community, with even more members than before, and we now have a mobile application, chat rooms, over 200 articles of content, a content drip, and real human moderators! We also have events planned throughout 2021, and we are planning so much more for the future.
After creating the online community, in April 2020 I released my first online course, titled AppSec 101. It was a hit, we sold over 100! But as we sold them, my perfectionism kicked in; I didn’t think it was ‘good enough’ for our students. My team and I decided to re-record the entire thing, add more quizzes, samples, stories, videos and articles, as well as a textbook and a certification when you finish all three courses. We call it Application Security Foundations, and it’s available on the brand-new We Hack Purple Academy!
(We also quietly announced 2 weeks ago that we are now offering live virtual training, and I am already realizing that I probably need to hire another trainer. It’s a pretty exciting place to be, when there is more demand than supply.)
Another very exciting thing that happened in the past 12 months is that my book was published, Alice and Bob Learn Application Security. It became a bestseller on Amazon in the first week, and We Hack Purple has sold hundreds of copies itself, to our clients and customers. The book has opened a lot of doors for me, and the company, but more importantly, it has helped a lot of people learn how to make more secure software. I could not be happier with the wonderful response from readers. I am starting free online book discussions, on March 20th, 2021. If you want the schedule, and invites to the event, all for free, sign up here.
We Hack Purple also has a swag store now, so you can wear as ‘SheHacksPurple’, ‘He Hacks Purple’, ‘I Hack Purple’ or ‘We Hack Purple’ T-shirt, hoodie, toque, socks or even a baby onesie! Honestly, the most exciting part for me is that people have actually bought them. Also, that I finally have a cute security hoodie, that actually fits my lady curves.
In the past year we also started the We Hack Purple Podcast, in August. No one tells you before you start a podcast that the absolute best part is going to be having the chance to meet your amazing guests. It has been such a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to meet and spend time with the outstanding individuals who form our guestlist. Also, it’s been really fun.
Another amazing thing that happened in the past 12 months is people reaching out and asking if they could buy training courses for us to give away to people from underrepresented groups. We have quietly been doing this since the very beginning, but we aren’t being quiet about it anymore. People would write me and say “thanks for the course I really liked it, but you didn’t charge enough, could I pay for another person to take this course?” I was really surprised at first. People are so generous, and maybe it shouldn’t surprise me, but I was caught off guard. After this happening enough times we decided to create the We Hack Purple Diversity Scholarship. We have already enrolled over 30 people in the application security foundations program, and we have tentative pledges for over 30 more. It has absolutely humbled me to have so many individuals and companies support a cause so close to my heart, diversity in tech. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this effort.
For year two we are planning to release courses on the topics of secure coding and DevSecOps, sponsorship and participation of several community events, more WHP content, live book discussions, and so much. Thank you for being a part of We Hack Purple!