Lessons from a SaaS Channel Chief: Meet Versive’s Ryan Sakowski

“In my time dealing with financial technology with banks, I realized that cybersecurity was always a part of the conversation. The market was growing and the needs for very innovative tech in the cyberspace was apparent.”

versiveDuring the 2018 Channel Partners Expo in Las Vegas, I had a conversation with Ryan Sakowski, Director of Business Development and Strategy at Versive.

Ryan is a well-spoken, ambitious individual. In speaking with him, even briefly, you get the feeling that he has strong ideas with the strategies to back them up.

Ryan began his work at Versive a year and a half ago, hailing from the financial technology space. He stated, “In my time dealing with financial technology with banks, I realized that cybersecurity was always a part of the conversation. The market was growing and the needs for very innovative tech in the cyberspace was apparent.”

Started six years ago by machine-learning experts from Microsoft, Versive is, at its core, a machine-learning and AI company. When asked what they’re doing to innovate, Ryan stated, “We started with the goal to build a machine-learning platform that large banks could plug in to solve their hardest business problems using automation without going to hire hordes of data scientists.”

He went on to say, “We are in an industry where we have a bunch of trends going in our favor. We have cybersecurity, big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence and have spent six years building the underlying technology.”

To say that Versive is in a great position within the cybersecurity market would be an understatement. As Ryan stated, the security industry is a 40-billion-dollar market that’s growing exponentially. When asked how the SME/SMB Channel plays into Versive’s plan of attack, Ryan said, “Cybersecurity is a critical challenge facing all businesses, not just large enterprises. At Versive, we want to be able to provide the best adversary detection to all, and partnerships are the best way to meet the needs of SMB customers.”

Appealing to the SMB/SME Channel is not without its challenges, however. Ryan explained that Versive’s software was built to scale to fit the needs of any size company. However, many SMB customers are not as mature in the cybersecurity world or have as many resources as larger enterprises.

After listening to SMB customers’ challenges, Versive realized that partnerships were the perfect way to “deliver a cutting-edge solution to SMBs” that allowed SMBs to use the Versive Security Engine effectively. Ryan explained further that SMBs tend to purchase from MSSPs and that Versive has had success leveraging and parlaying their product with MSSP expertise.

“We’re very transparent that we’re not trying to boil the ocean and fully automate security.”

When approaching customers and resellers, Ryan stated that it’s always important to “properly understand the prospect.” Elaborating, he explained that it’s typical to see complicated security stacks utilizing legacy software and that Versive needs “a lot of background knowledge” to understand where they fit within that stack. Versive then utilizes their Versive Security Stack to “flexibly fit into any customer’s workflow.”

Additionally, with regards to speaking with clients, Ryan warned against abusing the terms “machine learning AI” and “automation”. He stated the importance of helping clients understand that the technology is there to enable humans, not automate and take away their jobs. He stated, “We’re very transparent that we’re not trying to boil the ocean and fully automate security. Rather, we use the machine learning and automation to up-level analysts, regardless of their sophistication, and focus their attention on shutting down serious threats, rather than on trying to find the real threats amidst thousands of data points.”

Looking forward, Ryan stated that Versive is “seeing the fruits of labor in enabling the channel.” He continued by stating, “We look forward to developing more products based on our customer’s data sets, delivering them even more value with the same underlying platform.”

When asked if he had any advice for those looking to get into the security channel, Ryan said, “Money talks and specifically, mutual customers talk. […] Try to find one of your own customers who’s open and have a dialogue about their challenges and growth opportunities. You’ll learn a lot of things that you had no idea were even roadblocks, as well as be able to identify mutually-beneficial revenue growth opportunities.”

To learn more about Versive, visit their website.

Alastor Vyohr is a San Diego-based writer and editor, presently working as SaaSMAX's Content Developer.

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