Enhancing upstream, downstream alliances top priority for new eFolder Channel Chief Bystrak

Jason Bystrak, who officially joins eFolder from Ingram Micro in another week, wants to leverage his experience to build out both a stronger system of vendor strategic alliances, and a focused distribution strategy, to extend eFolder’s reach and position them as a logical challenger to Datto.

Jason Bystrak, incoming eFolder VP of Worldwide Channels and Distribution

Business continuity provider eFolder recently named longtime Ingram Micro exec Jason Bystrak as their VP of Worldwide Channels and Distribution. A week away from settling in formally into his new digs at eFolder, Bystrak spoke with ChannelBuzz about the move, and what he intends to accomplish in his first channel chief role.

Bystrak had been at Ingram Micro 1995, with his final role there being Global Executive Director, Technology Partner Enablement, Cloud. At eFolder, he reports directly to CRO Adam Slutskin, and will be tasked with developing strategic alliances and routes to market that will allow eFolder’s channel to sell more.

So why strike out on a new path at this point in his career?

“It was a really difficult decision to leave,” Bystrak said. “However, the time I enjoyed most at Ingram was when I had the ability to be a builder. Working at eFolder for Matt [Nachtrab, eFolder’s CEO] and Adam is a plus. So is the fact that eFolder caters to the SMB MSP market – my favorite part of the business. This role will let me get back into building mode.”

eFolder’s business for years was based around a file backup offering, and since 2013 they have broadened that out with acquisitions of sync and share, cloud-to-cloud backup, and image-based BDR solutions. Last summer they announced a merger with Axcient, which will strengthen the BDR solution, in particular. It also increases the company’s customer base, and positions them to either challenge market leader Datto – or at least to be perceived as the logical alternative to Datto.

Bystrak identified two components of his objective to strengthen eFolder’s position by strengthening their channels.

“The first big priority is the opportunity for upstream alliances,” he said. “This involves OEM-type relationships, where we work with larger cloud providers and vendors to build the right kind of integrations – where bundling with them makes us better together. For these kinds of alliances to work, two things need to be in place, around both technical and business model integrations. Is there white space and a ‘better together’ story.”

Strategic partnerships will be critical in positioning eFolder.

“I’m excited about the breadth of our product portfolio, which is a real competitive differentiator for us,” Bystrak said. “Our focus on having an open ecosystem is also a differentiator, however. Being able to partner with a whole lot of folks through the upstream alliances will also be a differentiator for us. With their acquisition of Autotask, Datto is investing more in a closed system. Some partners might appreciate the value of that, but we also think that many will not, and we will be able to appeal to those.”

Bystrak said that EFolder will continue to work with all ecosystem players, even ones owned by competitors.

“We will continue to support Autotask partners,” he said.

The second priority is expanding downstream alliances, particularly by leveraging distribution.

“Distribution will definitely be a play here,” he said. “eFolder has not had a legacy distribution channel. We will ask of distribution to assist us both in geographical expansion and partner recruitment, in order to expand routes to market.”

While some of the companies that had been acquired used distribution – Axcient worked closely with Ingram Micro, for example – there has not been a comprehensive eFolder distribution strategy. Bystrak indicated that his background here was valued in selecting him for the role.

“Matt wanted new leadership with channel experience to position our suite of solutions, and extend our partner network around the globe,” he indicated.

Does this mean that a major distribution deal with Ingram is on the near horizon?

“Obviously, I have tons of respect for them,” he said. He also noted, however, that as he has not even formally started to work for eFolder, a lot of sounding out among key partners still has to be done, about this, as well as eFolder’s channel program.

“Enhancing the partner experience is critical, and I will be going out to Denver to work with the team,” he said. “We will look at how we manage portfolio adoption, and how we cater to different types of channels that are emerging. I also want to look under the hood of the channel program, and talk to a lot of partners about it. Foundationally, everything indicates its been a successful program. However, I want to look at how it drives metrics, like the frequency of new transactions, and number of seats per transactions. I would like to see discipline around those metrics, and will want to reward partners that do that.”

Enhancing cross-selling between the different elements of eFolder’s solution portfolio has been a major eFolder objective, and Bystrak said that a data-driven metric approach is an attractive and effective way to do this.

“Partners want to grow their business, and making sure they can drive consumption of entire product portfolio will help with this,” he said. “We will need to help them through the data analytics here.”

Expanding eFolder’s strategic alliances will inevitably have programmatic impact as well.

“Those upstream and downstream alliances will mean that we have to adjust the partner program,” Bystrak said.