Sramana Mitra: What was it about WatchGuard that made you choose them at that point?
Carl Mazzanti: WatchGuard had been around for 11 years at that point.
Sramana Mitra: They were already quite a while into the market?
Carl Mazzanti: They were established, yes.
Sramana Mitra: That’s why you chose them. You thought you could build a process around them.
Carl Mazzanti: I think the criteria you always look at when you’re choosing a partner is whether they will pay attention to you and whether they solve a common need across your customer base. WatchGuard fits our typical customer base, which are small to medium businesses. In those early days, we had some enterprise customers but that was not the bulk of the inbound phone calls that we were getting. The bulk of the phone calls were from the architectural shops, construction firms, and retail stores.
Sramana Mitra: You said you were getting inbound interest. What was the trigger for the inbound interest? Why were these people calling you?
Carl Mazzanti: We were the number one partner in the region.
Sramana Mitra: These were people who are looking for WatchGuard system integrators and implementers.
Carl Mazzanti: Yes. Within the first year of doing business with Symantec, we went on to become a Platinum partner. I met the CEO of a $2 or $4 billion revenue security business in the first year. It was because we were a rocket ship for sales growth.
Sramana Mitra: You were doing Symantec, WatchGuard, and what else?
Carl Mazzanti: Microsoft. Those were our three primary providers when we started.
Sramana Mitra: That was not security though, right?
Carl Mazzanti: Microsoft could be security, because it was patch management and improving the business. Three years on, Microsoft would become our most important partner because selling, what was, fear and hope in the early days was not going to work and it was exhausting.
Sramana Mitra: What products in Microsoft did you move over to build?
Carl Mazzanti: Terminal servers and email platforms for collaboration.
Sramana Mitra: You were doing more of the plumbing for running a small business based on Microsoft?
Carl Mazzanti: For most people, we are their outsourced IT provider.
Sramana Mitra: How do you do that? Do you do that on-site or on a SaaS model?
Carl Mazzanti: We’ve barely gotten into five years of the company’s history, but the core items are always being seen as value to our customer, solving a common problem efficiently, driving productivity, increasing revenue, or reducing cost.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s stay on the chronological story. You started with security because that’s what the environment demanded.
Carl Mazzanti: We’re generally in the plumbing support. When people look at us for their firewalls or the security, we have to touch their servers anyway. We have to connect with their network so we focused on being a networking company within the first two weeks of opening our doors because that had a demand for local resources. It had a demand for people that can improve the organization.