Founder Stories: Frank Canas and Dave Britt of Byte25

Great ideas take time, if the history of Byte25 is anything to go by. It’s been worth the wait.

The ever-cheerful Byte25 founders — Frank (left) and Dave (right)

“Dave and I first met around 1988, when we worked together at a computer supplier,” says Frank Canas of his co-founder, Dave Britt. “Our paths crossed a couple of times, but then we diverged.”

Frank got into computers, then into communications, computer networking, and then cybersecurity around 2005. He’s since worked in a range of roles, from security operations to policy and governance, and penetration testing.

“My background for the last 15 years has been delivering cybersecurity architectures and consulting in that area,” he continues, “until a few years ago, when Dave approached me with a view to collaborating on a product.

Dave, who started off with his career in networking, before moving into software development and product design, already had a successful startup — and exit — under his belt.

“I’d started a company with another guy in the early 2000s in the network performance monitoring space, and we exited in 2012,” he explains. “After that, I was looking at home-based monitoring of the Internet, but the B2C space is tough, and that was what led us on the Byte25 journey.”

Bringing cybersecurity support to IT managers

For the last 12 months, the pair has been working hard on security and network visibility solutions for mid-tier IT managers.

“The way we see it,” Frank explains, “large organisations have CIOs, but smaller organisations don’t. They have an IT manager and — sometimes, but not always — a small team.”

Byte25 fits into this picture in a couple of ways. Firstly, as this second-tier market doesn’t usually have access to dedicated cybersecurity specialists, the business provides a tool that provides insights into cybersecurity.

“The customers don’t need to have specialist training to identify security vulnerabilities,” Frank reveals. “Byte5 provides step-by-step playbooks as to how those people can respond to issues the tool is detecting with the existing resources they already have — not cybersecurity specialists from outside the business.”

Byte25 also provides tools for third-party, outsourced service providers, for example, those managing servers or workstations for the company.

“Usually the businesses that service this market don’t have cybersecurity expertise either,” Frank adds. “We provide them with the tools they need to make the customer more secure, and also to provide a value-add on their IT management services.

“It’s a 3-way win-win-win.”

Persistence pays off

Dave originally approached Frank to work on the project three years ago. The pair started out researching market needs by talking with large, tier-one companies who offered managed security services, and asking what challenges they faced in servicing the mid-market.

In the process, they also developed some MVPs, which they were able to test with their contacts.

“We dabbled in different aspects of the problem,” Frank says. “Once we had an idea of what worked, and what didn’t, we formed Byte25 with something we thought was a viable product.”

“Early on we managed to secure large customers,” Dave adds, “which gave us a bit of validation of what we were doing in terms of the product direction. That kickstarted the Byte25 company.

“We’ve changed direction since then, to focus on cybersecurity. The initial customer wins really made the difference for us, from proof-of-product and MVP, to full-blown commercial offering.”

It’s a surprisingly big problem today

Today, Byte25’s biggest market is in SouthEast Asia, in particular, Malaysia.

“They’ve been hit hard with covid,” Dave says, “and lockdowns have slowed the business in that region. We’ve been trying to build up a channel in Europe, and Covid has made things slower there, too. So that’s been difficult: sales cycles are longer than they should be, we can’t travel, and so on.”

Of course, the pair are firmly focused on the positives.

“The fact that we’re still managing to secure business in this context is great,” Dave says. “As things get back to normal, we’re expecting an acceleration, which is great. And in the meantime, we’re all working to the same kind of rules, so we’re still managing to have good conversations and get traction within those markets.”

Frank and Dave have a dedicated channel manager looking after Asia, a near-full-time developer, and two agents in their “lightweight” business.

“Initially customer outreach was more on Dave than me,” Frank explains. “I was focused on revenue from consulting services to keep us bootstrapped.”

“These days we tend to do it together, because we’ve got that classic sales guy — sales engineer thing.We’re both heavily involved in the current accounts we have on board,” Dave agrees. “It’s important when you’re a small company to be customer-focused, because customers’ feedback is really valuable.

“Our strength,” he adds, “comes from the fact that I like building products and writing code, and Frank has a very strong technical and cyber background. So we’re a good fit to team up and build solutions in cyberspace.”

“Yes,” Frank says. “I love the idea of making this kind of technology available to people who don’t already have access to it. I think I’m so aware of how vulnerable everyone is, from individuals to large corporates, and everyone in between.

“I want to make a difference and provide tools so that SMEs and mid-tier businesses don’t suffer from these criminal cybersecurity breaches.”

Great ideas take time. It appears that the time for Byte25 has indeed arrived.

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