Harry – What Should I Do?

Startup & Start Over

Those that know me and the SMB Nation community understand I get my best stories in the hallways and the flyways just outside the formal conference curriculum. Part of that is because I never was a great student. Part of it is the meetings are best without a scripted PowerPoint deck and PR talking points! 

Those that know me and the SMB Nation community understand I get my best stories in the hallways and the flyways just outside the formal conference curriculum. Part of that is because I never was a great student. Part of it is the meetings are best without a scripted PowerPoint deck and PR talking points! 

So there I was, enjoying an adult beverage after the CompTia ChannelCon “big party” at a BBQ joint one night in Austin. Fabulous conference with 1,000+ attendees last week. A young couple sat next to me and I noticed the gentleman was an active USAF Captain and seeking to exit his military career and go into technology. He was attending ChannelCon to discover the next great thing in this life. As the conversation progressed, this individual, Andrew Stuko, proved himself to be a thinking man with an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. And the fact he and his wife committed to significant travel to attend ChannelCon was impressive. 

Borrowing a line from The Graduate movie (1968), instead of telling this young man “plastics” I recommended security. In fact, earlier that day, in my role as a blogger/analyst, I had interviewed Tish Williams (VP, Channel) at KnowBe4, a security ISV. As you’ll see later, Stuko took a keen interest in this solution offering. 

To set the table, KnowBe4 is the latest entrepreneurial endeavor from the infamous Stu Sjouwerman (of Sunbelt Software fame). Sjouwerman was one of the first and bestest supporters of SMB Nation and my early books (his newsletter went out to over 100k readers and he often made mention of my books – spiking sales!). 

“Our company is all about building awareness of what the real threats are from malware to CEO fraud.” Williams offered. “The average business employee really doesn’t understand what all that means. We can work with MSPs to do a free phishing security test (PST) that allows a company to see how “phish prone” they employees are. Most customers are in the 15 to 20 percent ‘lack of awareness range’ which is a huge number. That’s because employees are the last line of defense.”

 VP - Channel - KnowBe4

Tish Williams

“Think of it this way, the threat on the screen in front of the employee has gone through the firewall and the antivirus. What happens if the employee isn’t paying attention and accidently clicks on this link? This all leads to the next step. After the PST, we proceed to train everyone. Red flags are why are you getting a pizza coupon at work or why is this email sent to five other people you don’t know?” Said Williams. 

Williams went on to discuss CEO fraud. This is a very interesting concept and to me reeks of a cross between “Catch Me If You Can” (Frank Abagnale, Jr) who thrived on corporate dysfunction and “The Secret of My Success” (1987_film with Michael J. Fox) where the central character, Brantley Foster, manipulates internally from his base in the mail room. Trust me – there are interesting parallels to CEO fraud. [BTW – KnowBe4 has star power with its association with Kevin Mitnick the famous hacker; he is the Chief Hacking Officer for KnowBe4.]

So how do we all make money from KnowBe4? “We’re a channel friendly company.” Williams shared. “MSPs are motivated to work with KnowBe4 for two reasons. First – it protects the MSP’s investment in the client network; fewer problems to have to clean up. Second – the KnowBe4 product helps keep the MSP top of mind with the client. There is a lot of reporting that allows a constant flow of communications. When things are going really well, clients tend to forget about the MSP, even asking why do I need you.”

Partners are supported by a marketing bill-of-materials (BOM) in the form of a campaign called ASAP. Helps MSPs do a needs assessment for clients. Bottom line on money makers: the cost is roughly $3/month/user and some MSPs up charge; other MSPs give it away at cost as a service.”

Bottom line with Stuko? “The words you were able to pass my way have definitely given me some light as to how to enter this field.  I especially appreciate hearing about knowbe4, and just researching the company has given me some ideas on how to pursue my interest in IT security.”