NightDragon’s portfolio companies are all late stage startups, but their channel awareness ranges from excellent, through flawed to poor, and the companies think Ingram will bring particular value to these less skilled channel companies.
Today, distributor Ingram Micro is entering into a strategic alliance with NightDragon, a cybersecurity, safety, security and privacy investment and advisory firm led by industry veteran Dave DeWalt. The relationship will see Ingram Micro optimize NightDragon’s portfolio businesses for channel sales engagement and business execution in North America.
Ingram Micro’s Emerging Business Group, led by its Director, Don Scott, will spearhead the relationship from the Ingram side. NightDragon will also work with the Security Force team inside of Ingram Micro Security to create playbooks on best practices around distribution success and channel go-to-market.
“We are in the business of bringing vendor technologies to market,” Scott said. “This partnership provides an opportunity to collaborate with cutting edge technologies. This is the very beginning of what I’m hoping will be a long and fruitful relationship with NightDragon. We have the framework built and are now getting the engine started. There is tremendous opportunity for collaboration here.”
NightDragon is commonly seen as a venture capitalist, but that’s only part of what they do, and they don’t invest money in all of their companies.
“NightDragon is not just a venture fund,” said Amy De Salvatore, VP of Business Development and Strategic Alliances at NightDragon. “We are a platform, and also work in an advisory capacity. We have many other people in the company besides Dave who have extensive careers in cybersecurity. We are not invested in all the companies in our portfolio, but we have an advisory role with all.”
There are presently 15 companies in NightDragon’s core portfolio, including some fairly well known names like iBoss, vArmour and Onapsis, but their ecosystem really extends to about 40 companies, which includes all the companies where DeWalt sits on the board.
“We like to look at the next generation of technology opportunities, and are very careful about companies we take on,” De Salvatore said. “We are focused on the CSSP sector – cybersecurity, physical security and privacy. “We are also focused on late stage high-growth companies, typically with around $40 million to $150 million in ARR.”
De Salvatore indicated that working on the Channel Go-to-Market is part of the broader NightDragon Network Effect Program, but they do more than that.
“It also involves speed dating with portfolio companies, as well as access to talent and diversity programs,” she said.
Ingram Micro will supplement NightDragon’s Go-to-Market efforts for their portfolio companies with preferred onboarding to Ingram’s go-to-market services, as well as dedicated business development, marketing and transactional support. As part of the strategic alliance, Ingram’s Emerging Business Group will become trained and certified on onboarded NightDragon products, as well as help these organizations engage with channel partners, recruit new partners and expand their channel ecosystems.
“For the better part of a decade, I’ve been responsible for new vendor partnerships around many new and emerging technologies,” Scott said. “But while we think we are pretty good at spotting the winners, we aren’t always 100% right. NightDragon has done a lot to vet their partners. The fact that they are late stage makes them more channel ready. At an earlier stage, they don’t have the ability to properly invest. We help them go through the channel. It makes faster time to market for all of us. The next benefit is we all make more money. We also benefit from the market expertise that NightDragon has. They tell us what they see in terms of the next wave of growth.”
De Salvatore said that their startups tend to fall into three categories in terms of channel readiness.
“One is where they are thinking about it, but don’t know where to start, and they haven’t really formulated a strategy,” she noted. “Ingram will be very important for these. The second group has started on a channel strategy but aren’t doing a good job of it. The third group is doing okay in the channel and are starting to get into two tier distribution. Onapsis would be one of these.”
“For us, it’s really understanding where they are in terms of their channel strategy,” Scott said. “Many can spell channel, but don’t know how to build a channel program or know what’s important to a partner. Some are the reverse, and have tenured channel executives. With others, it’s more of a consultative engagement to figure when time is right to bring them to market through distribution.”
“This is just the beginning for NightDragon,” De Salvatore said. We will be working with Ingram in their largest market. We believe in the channel and will take ownership of building that system for our companies.”