Believing In What You Can Do
Listen to this episode here: Believing In What You Can Do
Welcome to our blog for TALKING NUMBERS with Paul Jansz! In this one, we share our conversation with Jamie Beresford, the Founder, and CEO of Practice Protect, an accounting-specific cybersecurity platform that makes it quick & easy to secure and control sensitive client data. Practice Protect was born when founder, Jamie Beresford identified a need in the accounting profession for tighter and more efficient control over client data.
About Practice Protect
Jamie went to the Philippines to build the operation in 2013. Back then, accountants were facing the challenge of a security problem for their clients, especially if the accounting firms needed to hand over information to remote team members. So, they built the Practice Protect solution specifically for them.
Later the team were getting better at doing it while the legislation changing, and cybercrime was becoming such a big thing, they made a quick decision to go directly to the market in 2016. They set their goal of getting 2017 users in 2017 and reached their target on 23rd of December. Now, Practice Protect has offices in the Philippines, the US, and Australia with 11500 users, and they are trying to reach the goal of 15,000 users in 2021.
Jamie’s Personal Journey
Jamie grew up in the southwest of WA, in a little town near Margaret River. He finished school early and moved to the UK and lived there. Three years later, he came back and thought he had no real professional skills at the age of about 25. He felt like he was stuck doing ADSL connections for an IT company, where he would cruise around to someone’s house and set up a connection for $75.
Jamie thinks the turning point was twofold. First of all, he joined a couple of entrepreneur’s groups, where he learned some new perspectives but also became competitive – he wanted to be better. This change coincided with the fact that the market at that time was very generic for an IT services provider, and Cloud Solution was coming with a lot of destruction. Moving to the Philippines also gave them a unique capability compared to onshore competitors.
In 2015, they lost 30% of their services business. Jamie says they have made all of the mistakes they could possibly make. Two years after building the business, they looked back and thought they might lose everything. It was much deeper than money for Jamie.
Back then, they were selling a managed service provided with deep technology, which is complex. Jamie realised that scalability is about simplicity and it’s much harder to process out and scale a service than a product. He then noticed the need for cybersecurity, and provided a protection product, at a much lower price, around $10. They had the capability to scale it at that lower price point. They adjusted the front-end to match the back end and turn around the situation. This is where they went down the ‘practice protect’ path. Jamie cites that they had become more disciplined strategically as time went on.
Jamie says people always feel embarrassed when somebody asks for a large sum of money to the wrong bank account or gets tricked into doing something online, but they all happen too often, and it can happen to anyone. There’s a large cybersecurity incident in the news every week, or people are getting emails from someone they know, and it’s obviously not from them. However, Jamie thinks it’s fortunate that people are more aware of cybersecurity now.
Jamie says there are many hackers overseas targeting accounting apps, and now they’ve moved more towards mailbox hacking. The reason is when you get into somebody’s mailbox, you can impersonate them, and also access all their retrospective data. When people get emails from their banks or bookkeepers with some transfer requests, they are more likely to follow through.
Practice Protect clients have different needs in terms of cybersecurity. It could be helping the employees; preventing a former partner leaving with essential data; or changing the access internally.
Via the software, you can see all the access status, and you can control the access by onboarding and offboarding someone very conveniently, especially for firms have shared accounts and a shared set of credentials, such as banks. It works for firms with many employees or even external contractors. Practice Protect allows team members to access delegated data without a password. With it, a business can put all of their client’s information into a firm-wide, centralised and standardised location, rather than leaving it up to each individual.
A Piece of Advice
Jamie shares that earlier in business, he didn’t do really well. It was just because of the fact that he didn’t think he could it. So just think a bit bigger, because it really does come down to what you believe you can do.