Following the sale of his previous venture, managed services provider 365ITMS, Steve Ellis has taken up the first of a number of planned non-executive chairmanship roles at cybersecurity provider Nettitude.
Ellis (pictured), who has helmed a string of firms in the channel including Notability and IBM partner APSU, parted company with 365ITMS when it was acquired by fellow Cisco partner Coretx earlier this month.
Nettitude posted revenues of £8.2m in its fiscal 2016 and was founded in 2003 by Rowland Johnson, who is also a director at not-for-profit ethical security testing body CREST.
Nettitude, which has offices in London and New York, is looking to step up its growth, Ellis said.
"If you've got a business you've grown from scratch, quite often you don't have the answers to all the questions," he said. "If you're going for the next stage of growth and development, that's the point at which you perhaps need to bolster your team with people with external experience.
"The vast majority of the revenues in Nettitude come from some form of services, and increasingly so managed services using IPR [intellectual property rights] the company has created itself. There is a lot of value in that.
"It doesn't do a lot in terms of software sales. What it does have is a 24x7 SOC [secure operations centre] in the UK, and they can provide fully managed and monitored threat protection security services."
Ellis said he has been involved in between a dozen and 20 transactions during his time running businesses in the channel.
"Quite often what you find, certainly with businesses that have been in the ownership of the founder for quite some time, is they are not necessarily as well run as businesses that have external shareholders in them, because they don't have to report or manage the business in the same way," he said.
"The advice to people who own and run their own businesses is to empower the people who work for them and make themselves dispensable, if they want to maximise the value of the business."
Ellis said Nettitude has been growing at 20-30 per cent annually and harbours "quite significant" growth plans.
"Cybersecurity is pretty hot at the moment," he said. "It's nice to be involved in a business that's got significant growth; for your normal IT business it's sub-10 per cent. These types of businesses easily outstrip that by two to three times, and that brings you different challenges."
He added: "This probably isn't going to be the only thing I end up doing. It's not beyond the bounds of possibility of doing another management buy-in with a private-equity business, and some more non-executive roles similar to Nettitude."
The sale to Coretx seemingly represented an abandonment of 365ITMS' own expansion plans Ellis had previously laid out to CRN. Ellis said nothing should be read into his abrupt depature.
"If you get acquired by a larger organisation, it's not unusual that the person leading that organisation leaves," he said.
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