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February 16, 2024 26 mins
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iHeartMedia presents CEOs you should know.Hi. I am John Dinkle, former
president publisher of the Baltimore Business Journaland now founder and CEO of Dnkle Business
Development. This is iHeartRadio CEOs youshould know, sponsored by a strategic factory,
and I'm here today with Kyle Hansloan, CEO and co founder of Huntress.
Welcome Collin. Thanks for being here. Hey, brother, I appreciate

you having me today. Yeah,looking forward to our conversation. I thought
we'd get started by just getting toknow you and the organization a little bit.
More so for those in our audiencethat aren't familiar, could you just
tell us about Hunters. Yeah.So, the long story short, the
elevator pitches, they say in thebusiness is we help the smallest and mid
sized businesses of the world and deliverlike world class cybersecurity expertise for the price

of a product. That's obviously aboring pitch, that's what it sounds like,
but the real answer is most businessesdon't care about threat actors right till
Hager's till something bad happen, andso if you could take that away from
them, allow them to focus onproductivity. That's the real key, that's
the real pitch. Yeah, that'sgreat. More on that later. I
want to get into that a littlebit. But what's your mission? Yeah?

I know it sounds wild, butthe whole mission at the company is
about elevating the mid size and smallbusinesses of the world. We just happen
to build cybersecurity products. That's howwe do it. Okay, great,
and talk to me about like inparticular, like kind of the services that
you provide, you know, isthere anything in particular that's most popular,

So talk about that a little bit. I always think about the audience,
and even though I'm a super geek, I try not to go to geeky.
But let's keep it simple. Ifyou think about what you have to
protect, there's probably a couple ofthings. Do you think about my laptop,
my workstation, my server, wecall that endpoints. Some people think
about their digital identity, right thelogins, the passwords, and other people

just think about their employees. Igot to make sure I don't click that.
Huntress helps protect each one of thosethings. And so what we're doing
is it's kind of like who watchesthe watchmen. We're there and we hunt
the hackers down. Right, tryto do everything we can to keep them
out. Let's be realistic. Justlike you know, sickness, nobody could
stop you from getting sick. Whenyou do get sick, though, before
you end up in the hospital,you want someone that's got your back.

That's what we do for the threatactors. We kick them out before the
situation gets serious. Gotcha and tellus about like the Huntress Managed Security Platform.
What does that entail? Yeah,it's all software based. Even though
I was a career service member acyber warfare operator, if you just deliver
a human at the price of ahuman like, that's very expensive on that

end. So we took all ofour expertise and said, what if we
could build like amazing software, softwarethat could actually hunt these things down,
still powered by our humans, butit allows you to kind of make that
bigger difference. So it usually it'sjust a small piece of software that goes
on those endpoints. It's a smallAPI connection for like your email and when
it comes to your awareness training,a lot of people probably seen stuff like

this before. It's amazing fish andsimulation and all that type of like fun
animation that teaches you like what notto do, but instead of a boring
corporate atmosphere. It's kind of asilly version of what not to do?
Gotcha? Okay, and talk aboutwhere you see the most kind of growth
opportunity with the with that service andeven some of the other services you provide.

Where do you see that big growthopera. You guys have been growing
like crazy from what I understand,so kind of curious where you see that
further opportunity. Yeah, what's wildis my mother was my biggest fan,
and she was also the saltiest person. When I left the services that I
was going to go work for thesesmall and mid sized businesses, she said,
oh, you should work for thefortune five hundred, But she was

sleeping on there's way more right.The backbone of world economies are these small
and mid sized businesses. So yea, even though like today, I actually
helped protect about one hundred and twentythousand of those SMBs, but there's millions
in the US alone, let alone, Like right now, Hunters has operations
in North America, English speaking Europe, Astralia, New Zealand, So I've

kind of got a whole globe tostill protect, and I'm really just starting
to scratch the service, So youcan imagine even doing what I'm currently doing
today, I've got a long waystill to go, let alone where hackers
are going to go next, andstaying ahead of that. So uh,
it's never a dull moment here.Yeah, yeah, great, thank you.
I appreciate sharing that. And youknow, one thing I want to
ask you about. So you seea lot of you know, managed service

providers out there. There's tons,just even within the Maryland and or let's
just say Baltimore market, tons ofthem. So a lot of them offer
let's just say, cybersecurity services.And I think you know their market too,
is the small, the small,mid size, you know, so
and my sense is that the theyou know are the small businesses that are

using you know, your typical MSP. Are they getting the cybersecurity protection that
you know Huntress would be able tooffer them. And that's what I love
the question because you teed up ag great point. Not all managed service
providers are created equally, and sowhat I've learned is everybody's got their niche.

And that's a good example of agood business, not one that tries
to be anything for everybody, butpeople who carve out niches and the ones
that I love are folks that realize, like, oh man, I know
I have to deliver top notch securityto whoever. Maybe they only serve doctors
and dentists, right, some dothat, and so they often look and
they say, should I try togo and recruit these people like the Huntress

experts and the realities, there's sofew of those experts out there. They
don't want to work at that managedservice provider. So what they do is
they have their own great talent.We augment them, so we actually call
them partners. You know, thoseone hundred and some thousand businesses I mentioned,
we reach those through about four thousandof the managed service providers you talked
about. And I'll tell you somemanaged service providers will actually deliver top notch.
Like if you see somebody partner witha Huntress, there is a good

chance they're on the most operationally matureside. But you've probably seen this like
the same way that you get likeyour yard cut, maybe by somebody.
Not everybody cuts the same way,right, Some people press in your yards.
And so for us, it's aboutempowering the best of the best and
making sure those end businesses. Rememberwhat I told you. Our mission is
elevating SMBs. You do that throughour partners. We do that through cybersecurity

products. So you can imagine sometimeswe have to say no, not all
managed service providers are created equally.Yeah, that's cool. I appreciate that.
Yeah, and it's it is interesting. I mean I talk to a
lot of smaller mid sized companies becauseto your point, that's what makes up
you know, the typical business communityin any market is smaller mid sized companies,
and so I do a lot ofwork with them, and it is

very interesting, this whole cybersecurity phenomenon, and that it's one of those things
that they know that they need it, but they don't understand it as much
as probably they could or should,and nor maybe not have the time to
really like understandably, which is whythey need and uh, you know,
a service and a provider like contrastto to do that. And I imagine

that's why you guys have grown somuch so quickly, so rapidly and across
the country is you know, youhave a solution there that you know has
obviously proven, and you know thesesmall businesses know that they need this,
they just don't have the time.I guess to investment or have the staff,
you know, to really look intoit and research it. So what

talk to me a little bit aboutthat market and what you've kind of seen.
I guess you could say over thepast couple of years, you're teeing
up some of the best questions ever, Like sometimes like rarely do I actually
run into negligence like that word likenobody ever says I want to be terrible
and lose my customers state I've never. I've never. I've been in this
game a long time. But what'smore realistic, like you said, is

timeliness. Like if you ask me, Kyle, why did you have to
file that extension on your taxes thisyear? Well? Yes, what other
stuff gotten away? I got threekids? Things like that the case.
So you're nailing it right now thatlike the historic answer, and you'll read
endless articles they'll say there is acyber security talent gap, and they'll usually
throw out some giant number millions ofunfilled jobs. The whole challenge that we

had in the beginning is is therereally a human talent gap or we really
Sometimes people want to sell Ferrari cybersecuritysolutions to people that have really Volkswagen budgets
right or Toyota budgets, And Ithink really the world missed it. Like
I'll be honest, maybe pulling thisback to you, like the last time
you bought an HDMI cable on Amazon, did you buy that twenty five dollars

Monster cable with the gold plated endsand the braid achieve or did you buy
the Amazon Basics cable for a right? And so for us we challenged the
whole Norman said like, no,people don't need Lamborghinis and Ferraris. They
need something that's meant for the midmarket and below. So we just kind
of nailed it right product, righttime, and right ease of use,
meaning like they don't need to beexperts to use it. They can just

file is on the fifteenth in extensions. They don't need to worry about the
nitty grit. So you're right,we are growing really well and it's just
right product, right place, atthe right price point, at the right
time. That's awesome, that's cool. All right. So, So,
given the daily threat of cyber attackson all businesses, as you mentioned before,
I mean the small and mid sizedcompanies are getting attacked just as as

much as the large financial institutions andother entities are what are what are some
basic advice or what's some basic advicethat you would give, you know,
a business owner or a CEO ofa smaller, mid sized company around protecting
themselves. I'll keep my mouth cleanhere, but I will get a little
spicy in my response, just becauseme as a listener, I want to
hear some spicy takes. The finishis often a perspective of I will say,

we need a little bit of arealignment on what expectations of cybersecurity.
So let's let's get really realistic.In the month of January, Microsoft,
one of the most successful companies inthe world themselves, got compromised and had
data stolen, you know, executiveemails acts. Why oh why, as
a mid size or small business doyou expect not to be hacked when the

biggest companies of the world that haveinfinite budgets. So some of that is
just good old fashion. We needto realign expectations. And what's funny is
if you think about that in health, can you imagine if a doctor told
you brother, like you're just notgoing to get cancer, Like that's not
true, that's not real the ideais, let's find it before it gets
terminal. And where I'm going withthis is my biggest piece of advice is

as soon as you realign your perspectivesknowing that it's not perfect, knowing that
it's just about reducing risk, Ithink all the other questions start falling into
place a lot easier. Like youknow, I don't like having that extra
pop up when I log in andI have to do a two factor notification.
You know, it makes me putin a code or click a green
button or something like that, Likethat is annoying. But the sheer fact

is that is the single number onething you can do to keep shady people
like me Like remember I was acareer you know, cyber warfare operator I
worked at and it's a gathering intelligence. And I'm telling you, like,
you need to think about it thatway of Like again, you don't have
to be the fastest person, right, You don't have to be able to
outrun the bear. You just needto be faster than the slowest person in

some of these places and these simplethings. That's why like the managed service
provider, who can give these smallbusinesses that advice, who can be that
trusted advisor. And I'm telling yousome of these great businesses, manufacturing companies,
production companies, logistics companies, Iwill say the vast majority don't embrace
that outside perspective. Who can giveyou those Look, these two things,

these five things, these basic thingswill literally make some of these problems significantly
smaller. Notice I didn't say goaway, but I hope that helps give
you a you know some two reallygood examples of like look first and foremost,
realign your thoughts. Second, someof this great advice, like two
factor authentication or a unique password througha password manager. You would not believe

the difference it makes and how muchharder it makes for me. Interesting.
That's cool. Okay, you're great. That's great advice. Thank you.
I appreciate you sharing that. Soin twenty twenty three, you raised about
sixty million in a seriously financing Whatis your kind of strategic priorities around that
investment? What's wild about it?Answering that question directly, only time I

raise is to either elevate the executiveteam around me, meaning like my board
and bringing different perspectives, or doublingdown in R and D. And that's
exactly what I did with this raise, believe it or not, like Hunters
still has I think somewhere in thebank where it maybe like eighty million dollars
of liquidity, meaning I still hadcash left over and I haven't even touched
that sixty million dollars, is whatI'm saying. And the reason that I've

raised that money is if you look, there's three major things that are changing
the world that we look in cybersecurity. The first is threat actors. They
are not stopping this is a business. They are making money than some entire
country's entire GDP. That's how lucrativecybercrime now is. Threat actors first.

The number two thing, and it'svery close cyber insurance and regulation. They
are not writing policies the same way, they're not taking risk the same way
because this is something that could bea loss leader. So you can imagine
I have to double down on myR and D to satisfy not only the
needs of this compliance, but let'sbe real, there is another bad human

on the other end, Yeah,to wreck your business, and my job
is to make it so if youproduce widgets or you do dry cleaning,
you could just worry about what youdo don't worry about that technical things.
And I think that's part of whywe've been so successful is when I raise
money to solve real valuable problems,not just raising money to send more ads

or nonsense like that, Like itmakes a real big difference to how a
company can grow. Yeah, agreed, thank you, that's awesome. Appreciate
you sharing that, all right.I want to switch gears a little bit.
I love talking about leadership on theshow, so I wanted to ask
you, how would you describe yourleadership style? So I am a fierce
opponent of micromanaging. So for me, one of the things that I actually

believe is if you don't have bottomsup leadership, meaning people at the very
bottom making decisions that are most relevantto them, you run into a situation
where, like, let's be real, what do I know as a CEO
at the top of the company,very far away from the customer, Like,
my job is to define vision,you know, look at true not
just planning but strategy synergies on thatend, And I hate that word,

but truly, how does one plusone equal more than two? But really,
empowering people from the bottom up tolead is like such an understated obvious
thing, but I will tell youthat that is a big part of it.
The other one on our end isruthless levels of transparency. So like,
for instance, when I have aboard meeting the last Friday of the
month, my very first Tuesday ofthe month, we do town hall Tuesday,

and we as an entire company,meaning like the you know, first
day and employees there as a theymight be doing cold calling as a sales
development rep. They are reading myboard slides. They are going through with
me of what this means. Whenyou can embrace that level of transparency and
you get rid of all the ohit's got to be confidential or proprietary,
and you only focus on what matters, which is execution, it turns out

you just get rid of all kindsof extra what I would call politics and
bs and oh, don't give themthe details. No, get rid of
that, focus on what matters,which is delivering an outcome. And so
I would say those things, Ohwhat were you saying, brothers, Sorry,
no, no, I just wantedto add I agree with that,
and I love what you have tosay about transparency because I don't hear that

very often when I ask that questionAnd I love when I hear that because
it's something I practiced too when Iwas leaving the BBJ and I every month,
you know, we would have anall staff meeting. I would put
every number up on the board thatI could think about that was on my
P and L on our circulation,like, everything up so everybody could see,
this is where we're at. Imean, what you know, you

know, good, bat or ugly. I mean like I wanted everybody to
have a knowledge of that, atransparent and help them understand maybe some of
the decisions we as the management teamhad to make, you know, because
of what we're looking at, whatwe're forecasting, and all those things.
I just thought that being very transparentabout it, Like, I think people
appreciate it, and they they theythat what told me they trust. I

trusted them to take that information confidentiallyand and learn from it, to understand
it, to understand why we makethe decisions we make sometimes and things like
that. So I just love whenpeople talk about transparency and leaders talk about
transparency because I think it's so hugein your overall culture and trust with your
boys. We could do probably anentire segment, but I am right through

totally was I was bowing to whatyou were saying, because sometimes, I
mean, we've really got to aworld that you know, I see how
many things are overclassified, proprietary,confidential. You can't have this, and
I just I think there's clear examples. And last the Court that's a sixty
four billion dollar company today and theyhave their number one core value as open

business nobs, meaning everything be open. It just gets rid of all the
BS. So I'm glad to getthere. Yeah, now I love that.
Man. I'm for sure you're bringingthat up. I agree that I
could talk for an hour about thatkind of stuff. What did you do
with the I know, the pandemic'spassed us, we're still dealing with the
you know, kind of different cultureof hybrid working and virtual working and all

those things. But if you wereto look back over the past few years,
like what do you feel you learnedabout managing people and communicating through that
period. So I think there's acouple of words that people sleep on,
and one of them is the worddeliberate. And what I mean by this
is like, let's think about myclient base, mid size and small businesses.

They were already working remotely, Theywould go to coffee shops, they
would travel different than an enterprise whereyou've got a big headquarters. Right,
But that worked from home environment reallyjust blew everything up and people even be
some folks coming back my going backto that word deliberate, I'm actually okay
with either. I can see peopleworking in the office. We've been purely
remote, by the way, sincetwenty fifteen, way before the pandemic were

now I pay taxes in forty statesin four countries. Now I just you
know, must love paying taxes orsome weird stuff. But where I'm going
with this is I believe you haveto be one or the other remote or
you have to be in person.And the reason for that. All the
approaches to hybrid i've seen either thepeople that are remote get left out or
the people on site for instance,you know, sometimes don't get the benefit

of like, oh I missed thatbecause I didn't know I should be paying
attention to slack or teams or whatevermethods. So I know that sounds overplayed,
but the biggest thing I learned duringthat time was you can choose many
different options. I've seen companies thriveand i've seen companies kind of start to
slide when they've made bad decisions.But the worst ones have been when they've
just tried to wing it instead ofmaking deliberate decisions of what's right for their

clients, their customers, their teammates, and really their culture. And so
for me, I'm very happy thatwe've kept open ended. I love being
a you know, a Maryland,Baltimore headquartered company. But I also being
able to let my teammates that youknow, work from home allowed them some
to just move closer to their families. Some people allowed them to move out
of their tiny, one bedroom SanFrancisco apartment to a much better place,

in a bigger place, you know, in some other states. So for
me, I like that I givemy teammates the options to do it,
and I'm very happy. And that'sthe biggest, you know thing I learned
during that time was embrace that change. Yeah, that's great, that's great.
I appreciate that. Yeah, andI think I think you're right.
I heard a lot about that beingdelivered to be decisive, being decisive,

you know, either one or theother picket, and then build a you
know, culture around that, butdon't be wishy washy about it. Yeah,
I didn't want to pull that threadtoo long. But earlier when I
talked about niche niches, right kinda niche market is being deliberate saying I
know what I am, And couldyou imagine if I said I'm going to
sell Let's use Volkswagen as an example, I'm gonna sell Volkswagen's, Porsche's,

and Lamborghini's always one company that'd beweird. And there's a reason, even
though Volkswagen owns all those companies,there's a Rosen subdivided because again, when
you know who you are, youcan stay true to your core values,
you can stay true to what you'redoing, and most importantly, especially considering
the audience of this market, youcan say no to customers, No we're
not going to do that. No, we would never do that, and

that's okay because that's who we are. Yeah, yeah, I love that.
So I'm sure you are, youknow, in a probably pretty constant
mode of hiring. What what whatwhat's that like right now? What's the
talent market look like these days inIT and cyber related jobs? Is it
hard to find folks? Is itbecause you're growing quickly and I have a

good reputation on the culture side andproduct is it easy talk a little bit
about that if you don't want it'salways easier to hire when you know who
you are, when you have goodcore values, and success is happening.
So I think my answer of sayingwe're doing really well on hiring as we
go and add another one hundred teammatesthis year, I think there's a little
bit of like bias to that.But I will warn like on our end,

even though we're constantly onboarding, youknow, eight to ten people every
onboarding session, and then you've gotto remember you're also backfilling. One of
the greatest things we can have isgreat people leave Huntress and go found something
of their own. So we havethat stuff happening too, when you know,
hire eight players. But I willsay the world of finding it talent
is not equally right now with meworking so many of these like IT departments

or outsourced managed service providers right areasI'm running into and they said the remote
from work or sorry remote work orwork from home has been disastrous because some
of the talent that they used toget in the local area are now able
to get jobs that are paying,you know, sometimes great for the person
you know, two times as muchin some places, sixty to one hundred
and twenty thousand dollars a year.That big of a step up, but

it has actually taken away talent awayfrom a lot of the SMB. Now
that people like me, for instance, I can hire wherever that best talent
is as long as they're in aplace that I can pay taxes. And
so I just want a caveat that. While I'm saying things from glass half
full, what I'm learning about alot of businesses is it is not equally
in some places or just not evenable to find cybersecurity talent period And those

that are trying to hire an itsometimes can't even hire what they call a
tier two or a middle level technicianin some really rural areas. So I
want a caveat Things are good onHuntress, but it's not equal out there.
Yeah, yeah, gotcha. Thankyou appreciate the advice there. So
what gets you excited about the futureof Huntress? So twofold, I got

to watch what I say on thesethings because I know sometimes my like listen
to these, but I will I'llgo and head and throw it out like
I would still work at this company. For free. I really would,
although I enjoy getting paid, Andpart of that is like some people would
get really paranoid or bothered by ajob that changes every day because that is
how it happens. We on adaily basis. Like when we release a

product, it's not like a carthat you just have to give a tune
up. We're talking every day.It has to be managed and supported.
I like that challenge. It's likea puzzle that everyday resets or a daily
crossword that you get to chase.So for me, like what's exciting me
is like my ability to make adifference out there in the world, not
to just have unlimited budget in thefortune you know, one thousand, but

I'm talking about the folks who reallyneed it, Like I've got partners that
care, I've got clients that needit, and it's kind of like like
where else can you follow your technicalnerdy passion to give back, like for
the greater good. Like so I'mkind of feeling, like, you know,
I'm sure, like any journeys,it's a roller coaster up and down,
but I'm feeling really positive. Ontwenty twenty four, I just feel

like everything's fire all cylinders I lovethat man, all right, So conversially,
then what's what keeps up at night? Yeah, I'll say real clear
threat actors' ability to change. LikeI don't think people maybe think about hackers
as a business, but they've gottento the point that their ability to you
know, I think in business we'dcall this a feedback loop. So they

test something, it doesn't work,they iterate on it, test something.
It is getting so fast and socommercially driven, it is pushing what's realistic
even in this world. So youcan imagine like, even though I've got
great humans, the only reason Ican deliver my great humans is because I
have insane amounts of automation. Soyou could imagine even though there's a lot

of promises out there about AI thatyou know, kind of seem lofty,
they might not be true, butyou know what they are helping is they're
helping my most junior people now actas more mid level talent, and they're
freeing up my mid level talent tobecome some of my most senior talents.
So when I look at that,it is both a opportunity and a hurdle
that if you're not embracing this newforms to automation, and I try to

stay away from that buzzword because itactually been for things. But if you
can't figure out how to augment yourmost junior talent with all this new,
crazy amazing technology right now, willget left behind. And I will say
on my end, I have tofight every day to innovate in that area
to make sure I don't get leftbehind, because then I'll be selling you

know, Porsches and Lamborghinis rather thanwhat people. Well, it's funny.
I was going to ask you theAI question, but I was like,
you know what, I'm gonna makethat for a you know, a pile
part two interview because like we couldprobably talk for and I love it.
My daughter just literally got her firstjob as a result of having ch at
GBT write her resume. So ifyou ever catch up on this, I'd

love to talk about all things thatway in a non geeky format. Yeah.
Yeah, that that that that's becoming. We use that as well in
our business and just we're just kindof starting to tap into it and stuff.
But it's it's pretty exciting. Butwell, just to kind of wrap
things up, I really appreciate yourtime, guys, has been great but
a lot of fun. Is thereanything else you'd like our listeners say about

you and Huntress? You know,it's one of those that great companies don't
have to have strong call to actionsbecause they just go out and deliver results.
And so if folks are looking tolearn more, we're just at hunters
dot com. We've got an awesometeam and an awesome group of partners to
help you out. On my end, I'm super active. Would love if
the audience would love to have meback or anything like that. You know,
let the team know. I'd bemore than happy to share more.
But thank you so much for theopportunity today. It was amazing. No,

it was great talking with you.I really enjoyed the conversation. I
could. I could talk to youfor another hour, man, I appreciate
it. Thanks for taking your timetoday. It was really good to beat
you and hope to connect soon.Yeah, thank you so much. It
was amazing. This has been iHeartMedia'sCEOs. You should know
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