As a systems engineer in the early 1990s, John Menezes was busy implementing IP networks for large financial institutions. He made a successful career at Conexsys Communications, designing networks and solving migration-related problems for the Bank of Montreal and CIBC. Growing weary of the engineering side of the business, Menezes honed his sales ability managing the Conexsys sales team until 2000.
“I was very good in the engineering piece and I understood how to solve customers’ problems and make life easy for them. I married that with my ability to sell and was successful as a salesperson working with large financial institutions — so that was my claim to fame,” he said.
Using that experience Menezes started a managed security services company in October, 2000 called Cyberklix. “We’re a centre of excellence in information security and IP services and we have a consulting practice devoted to security and networks,” he said.
The Mississauga, Ont.-based company’s areas of expertise include intrusion prevention, log consolidation and compliance reporting as well as a managed firewall service.
Even with 23 years of IT experience and a wall full of certifications from Nortel, it was Menezes’ past business relationships with large financial institutions that drew Cyberklix’s initial success.
“When I started Cyberklix I went back to these large financial institutions and showed them the value I’d be bringing with the new team of people I put together and that’s how we were successful, that’s how we grew,” said Menezes. “When we started five years ago, no one knew the name but they knew me, they knew my ability to deliver solutions for them and deliver expertise.”
In the early stages the business partnered with companies like Cisco and RSA Security to resell hardware. But Menezes said he quickly realized that he had to sell solutions.
“As time went on we hired people and grew the team, brought in different skill sets to make sure we could provide the customer with architecture, engineering, design, implementation and project management,” he said.
Now with 25 employees, the firm is a solutions provider to not only the financial services market but to some retail outlets as well. Menezes cited Sears, Sobey’s and Shoppers Drug Mart as key retail customers.
The roster of Cyberklix’s current partners include Network Intelligence Corp., Computer Associates and Infoblox, a network identity management space.
He wouldn’t disclose the company’s revenues, but maintained that “we’re on a very good sustainable growth path. I’d like to see my company be a $100 million company in the next seven or eight years.”
He did say the overall profit margins on niche products, hardware and software solutions were very good. “For instance, with the Network Intelligence engine which is a logging engine, and Infoblox, we’re averaging around 31 to 32 per cent of GP on those products — in mark contrast to when we were selling Cisco gear and making two and three points.”
One of the biggest challenges Cyberklix has faced is recruiting well-trained people. “Finding qualified, experienced security people has been difficult,” he said.
To overcome that, Cyber-klix instituted a rigorous training program to bring in people who have four to six years experience but need to build a depth of knowledge.
“I’d like to step on the gas but it’s people you’re dealing with and you can’t make them experts over night,” he said.
Menezes’ goal is to grow revenue by 35 to 40 per cent, focusing on marketing efforts to increase the visibility of Cyberklix’s name.
Although new business is always welcome, he doesn’t forget the reason for Cyberklix’s success.
“Strategically, 85 per cent of our business is repeat business so we’re very careful to make sure that we live up to our commitments, live up to our customers expectations and I’ve proven it.
“We’ve come from nowhere and we’re now one of the premier security companies.”