Hunters signs Benchmark to bring its open XDR platform to Canada

Benchmark’s strength in the Canadian market is in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa, and that dovetails nicely with Hunters’ expansion strategy, which is focused on building up business on the eastern side of the continent first.

Chris Sullivan, Hunters’ head of global alliances

Today, Israeli cybersecurity startup Hunters is announcing that Mississauga ON-based solution provider Benchmark is their first Canadian channel partner, and will oversee the resale of their open XDR SOC detection and response platform in the Canadian market.

Hunters came out of stealth two years ago looking to redefine the threat hunting market around their concept of autonomous, automated threat hunting. At that point, the channel was in their plans. Now, they are actively assembling it.

“We are growing a channel out of willing participants,” said Chris Sullivan, Hunters’ head of global alliances, who joined the company at the beginning of this year to build out the Go-to-Market strategy.

While Hunters’ core value proposition remains the same as at launch, their messaging has seen a couple of tweaks. The first is to their name, which has been shortened from HuntersAI.

“AI is only a small part of what we do, and because AI had become such a buzz word, it tended to mislead people,” Sullivan indicated.

The other change is that while Hunters originally branded what they do as autonomous threat hunting, they now call themselves an open XDR platform.

“Our secret sauce continues to be our automation of threat hunting, but the more we partnered with others to ingest data – we ingest telemetry from everybody –  the more the platform morphed into an XDR,” Sullivan said. Maximizing data is important because Hunters’ technology does not look for clearly threatening acts, but patterns of behaviour common to attackers which seem threatening when assessed in context with other benign-looking incidents as part of a larger pattern.

Lital Asher-Dotan, Hunters’ CMO

“Threat hunting remains our differentiation, and we came out of that background, but as a startup, we morphed into calling ourselves an open XDR because that captures the broader essence of what we do,” added Lital Asher-Dotan, Chief Marketing Officer at Hunters.

Hunters began selling early last year and ran into the teeth of the pandemic, but had built strong momentum by the end of the year.

“2020 was definitely an introduction into the market for us, but as the year progressed, deals began to come in, and we saw good Quarter-over-Quarter growth,” Sullivan said. “Our plan in 2021 is to grow with the channel. Our partners are focused on the SOC, understand the problems their customers face and understand what automation can do for them.”

Worldwide, Hunters is still in single digits in terms of the number of partners signed up.

“We are selectively looking at ones we know can take that message forward,” Sullivan said. “We are concerned that if we go too fast, the margins can get depressed. It’s still early days for us on the MSP front. While we are well suited for MSPs, we haven’t signed one yet. We want to make sure we find the right ones. We think the strategy of prudent growth is the way to grow, as we crawl out of the startup phase.”

Signing Benchmark as a partner brings Hunters into Canada for the first time.

“Canada is green fields for us,” Sullivan indicated. “They mark our entry into the Canadian market. We got in touch with them through some personal contacts I had there, as well as our VP of Sales, so there is a trust factor. The market they address is important as well.”

Benchmark’s single Canadian office is at the western end of the Greater Toronto area, and that very large market, plus the federal space in Ottawa, is their primary focus. That focus is what Hunters is looking for at the moment, however.

“We are focused in the east right now,” Sullivan said. “We aren’t planning to ignore western Canada. Even in the US, it’s an eastern U.S; play to start,  until we get to that critical mass. Benchmark targets key markets for us in Toronto and Ottawa. They have an opportunity with the Canadian government.”

Initially, the Benchmark relationship will be a pure resell one.

“As we mature with them, we will look at other options of expanding that,” Sullivan said. “We are marketing our SaaS platform to their customer base for now.”

For now, given Hunters’ focus on the east, the one partner will be sufficient for the whole Canadian market.

“That will be the case for at least the next six to nine months, although we will change it on the fly if we need to,” Sullivan indicated.