German cloud security firm Hornetsecurity looks to expand North American operations with ChannelCon presence

Hornetsecurity is targeting the SMB space in North America, emphasizing their ability to build and maintain strong relationships with these smaller customers. They have signed Contronex to handle their distribution in both the U.S. and Canada.

Hannover Germany-headquartered cloud security vendor Hornetsecurity is looking to expand in the North American market. In short order, they have established North American offices in Pittsburgh, signed on Contronex to distribute them in both the U.S. and Canada, built out a small reseller channel in the U.S., and signed their first partner in Canada. They are also attending the CompTIA ChannelCon event in D.C. this week to spread their message to the CompTIA community – and possibly add a few strong reseller partners.

Hornetsecurity has been in existence for over a decade. The company was originally named antispameurope, but rebranded in recent years as their product portfolio expanded.

“Our main focus from the very beginning was cloud security,” said Tobias Hammer, Head of Marketing at Hornetsecurity. “Our first product was a spam and virus filter for cloud, and we have continued to add additional cloud security products around email security. Last year, we created a new Advanced Threat Protection product that his given us a real push in the market because it is designed to protect against ransomware, as well as phishing.”

In Europe, more than 90 per cent of Hornetsecurity’s 35,000 customers are SMBs, but they do have some large ones as well. In North America, their initial focus is on SMBs, which they see as an underserved market here.

“We have an enterprise-grade solution that is reliable, efficient and always works,” said Craig Biertempfel, Marketing Specialist at Hornetsecurity. “SMBs want that, and they also want a solid relationship where they can trust their provider. That has been critical to our success. The days of product differentiation is over in the SMB space. Today, everybody has great products and an excellent user interface. The key is being able to trust the provider.”

Biertempfel emphasizing that this trust aspect is especially important for smaller customers, who he said the market leaders tend to avoid in their focus on bigger deals.

“SMBs, especially smaller ones, tend to get overwhelmed by technology,” he said. “We view success as about forming solid relationships with those SMB customers. With small businesses, you need to have a real relationship with them – not just make a win and move to the next target. Because of this philosophy, we have had customers for 10-11 years in a market where people often jump around.”

“We have almost zero churn rate because we create real relationships,” Hammer said.

German companies coming into North America rarely compete on a price basis, and Hornetsecurity is no exception to that

“The focus is not on price, but on the customer relationship,” Hammer said. “If a customer is satisfied, it doesn’t matter if the price is a dollar more.”

Strong channel partners are the key to Hornetsecurity’s success in North America.

“We know we have a lot of competitors here in the North American market,” Hammer said. “Visibility is a challenge. We have a few partners now in the American market, and we have a good relationship with them. That’s how we do it in Europe as well.”

In Europe, they have about 500 partners – not a huge number in the context of their market. Between 20 and 40 would be classified as strategic for them.

“In North America, so far we just have a small number of partners, but they are very good,” Biertempfel said.

They have one Canadian reseller, SourcetekIT, who they signed up in June. They are based in Bolton, ON, a Toronto exurb, but also just opened up a U.S. office, in Pittsburgh.

“We work closely with them,” Biertempfel said. “They are a smaller company, and they have also come into the U.S. market, so their story mimics ours. They are a younger Canadian company, and it’s great having them right next door.”

“We chose to base our operations here in Pittsburgh because we were searching for a city growing in the IT business,” Hammer said. “A lot of big companies like Google have major operations here, and more companies are coming here.”

“Carnegie Mellon is here, and there is a lot of talent in cybersecurity,” Biertempfel added. “It’s also affordable.”

In March, Hornetsecurity signed Naples-FLA based Contronex to do their distribution in both the U.S. and Canada. Contronex is a long-established boutique distributor who focuses on a small number of vendors from Europe. They have six, of which Romania-based BitDefender is likely the best known here, with the others being from Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Hornetsecurity will be at ChannelCon with Contronex at Booth 814.

“Our main goal at ChannelCon is for people to get to know us, and contact potential new partners.” Hammer said. Oliver Dehning, Hornetsecurity’s CEO, is attending the event and is doing a breakout session on their encryption technology.

Partner education is a priority with Hornetsecurity, which is another reason the company joined CompTIA.

“CompTIA is heavy on education,” Biertempfel said. “We are here for networking as well, and we are looking for new strategic partners, but we want to be part of that education component.”