Ground Labs names ex-Kaspersky channel leader Jason Stein to lead North American channel push.

Jason Stein, Head of North American Channel and Partnerships, Ground Labs

Ground Labs​, which makes solutions for eDiscovery and compliance, has announced the appointment of ​Jason Stein ​as Head of North American Channel and Partnerships. It’s a significant move for the company, which has a significant presence globally, but whose channel presence in North America before now has been weak.

Ground Labs has been around since 2007 in the eDiscovery and compliance space, but their head office is in Singapore. They have a U.S. office, in Austin, but it is newish. While they have sold in North America before, and attempted to sell channel, their strategy here could be politely be called haphazard. That’s why  Stein, who was previously Kaspersky’s Head of Channel in North America, was brought on board.

“Globally, Ground Labs has done well,” Stein said. “The channel has really been humming in other parts of the world. That hasn’t been the case in North America. That’s one of the reasons why I joined. It’s a huge opportunity, with a great product to make the company a household name. We are a well-kept secret.”

Stein noted that Ground Labs is a niche play, but pointed out that it’s an increasingly important niche.

“GDPR in the EU, and the California Consumer Privacy Act, which comes into force in 2020, are just two of an increasing number of federal and state regulations that companies have to comply with,” he said. “The fine for non-compliance can be astronomical, and we are starting to see that hit in the EU. While we mainly look at the enterprise, we have some traction now in mid-size companies as well because of the growth of compliance laws. We want to be seen as THE sensitive data discovery tool.”

Their core solution is Enterprise Recon, a discovery tool to identify and monitor sensitive personal data stored either on-prem or in the cloud, as well as provide remediation if necessary. It covers both structured and unstructured data.

“The tool shows what may not be compliant,” Stein said. “A lot of customers lean on a partner for remediation.”

Stein discussed why the company has not been successful in establishing a channel in North America in the past.

“It’s all about relationships,” he said. “You have them, or you don’t. The channel has been a factor globally, but in the past, Ground Labs just dabbled in this market and it didn’t work out. The partners who they targeted and went after didn’t give them the time of day.  They also just haven’t had the resources available to them.”

In North America, the company also laboured in the past by the fact that the market wasn’t exactly screaming for this kind of offering outside of the core regulated verticals.

“Compliance and data discovery were somewhat newer here, and it wasn’t as big a priority,” Stein said. “Now, however, the timing is right. Many companies are now being forced into this, and have added risk officers and compliance officers.”

Stein said his task at Ground Labs is very different than his task Kaspersky, where he came in with 2700 partners on the North American roster, and the company was a well-known brand, albeit in a saturated and commoditized market.

“Here we have only a handful of partners now, who originally came in off the website, and who are small, but strategic for us,” he stated. “I’m looking to grow that, by going to my contacts in the partner community, vouch for Ground Labs with them, and leverage those relationships to achieve strategic growth.”

Stein said the goal is to have a blend of local and larger partners – ‘some who hit triples and home runs, and some who hit single and doubles into the SMB’,” he said. “What we really want though is partners who see us as their ‘go-to’ partner, not where we would be one of three or four, who check a specific box. We want to be the partner that they lean on.”

That’s one of the reasons that they want to add a select number of partners right now to bolster their existing cadre.

“We won’t be adding 200-300 out of the gate,” Stein noted. “We are looking at a couple in Canada, and three to five for now out of the U.S. I just met with two strategic resellers in Toronto.”

Stein does expect to bring end some Kaspersky partners who have been primarily endpoint-focused.

“We have had great conversations with some traditional endpoint partners who haven’t figured out yet who they should add for data discovery,” he said. “A lot them are looking to move into an adjacent space like this. That’s why someone like me vouching for a company can help them, especially if they have not had success in this area in the past. We can be that true partner that they can rely on.”

Stein said that they are busily building a channel infrastructure out.

“I’m fortunate to be able to leverage a lot of the things we did at Kaspersky to enhance the partner experience here,” he said. “Previously, Ground Labs had salespeople here who didn’t understand how to deal with partners, and tried to manage them. We are also bringing in a portal to give them the collateral they need. We have had adequate collateral before, but today customers want industry-specific white papers and case studies. We are taking a fresh approach trying to make sure our partner experience is better than anyone else out there in our space.”

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