We seldom see global technology companies being built out of Latin America, so what Ricardo and his team have been able to accomplish is very exciting. And to think that they are building a fraud prevention company out of Bogota, Colombia is truly impressive.
Sramana: Ricardo, let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where were you born and raised?
Ricardo Villadiego: I was born in Cartagena, Colombia which is a small city in the north of the country. I was raised there until I was 15 and then I moved to Bogota to study to become an engineer. I moved there by myself. I finished my degree as an electrical engineer. Immediately after graduation, I went to work for Unisys Corporation.
Unisys had an interesting association with the University. They would choose the best students and incorporate the best students into the corporate world. I started working for Unisys while I was studying, and then when I graduated, they offered me a full-time job. During my first year, I built software for ATM machines and devices. They had a huge project, back in 1992, in which they had to convert the communication protocol of the ATM machines into TCP/IP.
While I was working on those projects and writing that software, I realized that the TCP/IP protocol was going to create a lot of security issues as adoption of the protocol increased. That started me down the security path that I am on today. After I finalized the driver software for the ATM machines, I found out that Unisys was building a security practice in Philadelphia. I started working with my colleagues to build a strategy for security that Unisys would push out to the world.
At the same time, a lot of other companies were starting up in the security space. TCP/IP had wider adoption in the US and there were a lot of problems to be addressed. Internet Security Systems became the big name in the security space so I decided to move from Unisys to work for Internet Security Systems as a step forward in my career. They were acquired by IBM in 2006. After that acquisition, I decided to take a step towards my current entrepreneurial life.
Sramana: What year did you make the move?
Ricardo Villadiego: IBM made the acquisition in 2006, and I started my company right after the acquisition. I had to stay with IBM for a certain period of time. I started my company in Columbia where I had a lot of friends. While I started the company in 2006, we went into full execution mode in 2009. I started working full-time at Easy Solutions in 2009.