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KELA Hires First-Ever Channel Chief To Formalize Strategy

Ayesha Prakash has been tasked with doubling the size of KELA’s partner community and increasing the share of business flowing through the channel from 20 percent today to 50 percent a year from now.

KELA has hired cybersecurity veteran Ayesha Prakash to help the threat intelligence vendor approach the channel in a more structured, formalized manner.

The Tel Aviv, Israel-based company has tasked Prakash with doubling the size of KELA’s partner community and increasing the share of business flowing through the channel from 20 percent today to 50 percent a year from now, according to the company. Prakash started as KELA’s vice president of global channels and alliances Aug. 18 following channel leadership roles at Flashpoint and Invincea.

“KELA partners very well and is committed to their clients,” Prakash told CRN. “They’ve already put the groundwork in place.”

[Related: 10 Hottest Threat Intelligence Platforms In 2019]

KELA has less than 25 channel partners today, and Prakash said the company is looking to bring at least 25 resellers and MSPs on board in the next year that understand threat intelligence and are wishing to provide that as a service. Infrastructure MSPs are increasingly being asked to manage their customer’s security, and KELA can provide targeted and actionable intelligence that helps them grow their business.

The company’s business development team has been on the frontlines of the partner push thus far, but Prakash said her arrival will make it possible to approach the channel in a more structured way by leveraging her background to get into new accounts. North America and Japan are KELA’s biggest markets, with 40 percent of the company’s overall revenue coming from North America, the company said.

The company has historically taken more of a standardized approach to margin for all partners, but Prakash said she’s looking to develop a multi-tier strategy where partners that are most committed to KELA enjoy the greatest financial return. KELA has already increased its margins since Prakash started at the company, and is developing a SPIFF program that supports selling upmarket or down market.

Prakash said she’s also looking to develop a robust training and enablement program that takes basic security partners and makes them an expert in providing sophisticated intelligence to their customers. She also intends to put more structure in place around account mapping and formulate strategic business plans that detail where the company is looking to go in the months and years ahead.

Within KELA, Prakash said a lot of internal employees don’t understand the value channels and alliances can deliver, so she plans to evangelize around how the channel can serve as a force multiplier by acting as an extension of the company’s sales team. She wants to make it easy for KELA staff to bring her team in for a discussion, and provide incentives that allow partners to grow their client base and services.

From a metrics standpoint, Prakash said she’s most interested in expanding revenue, pipeline, partner acquisition and partner enablement. Pipeline growth really comes down to deal registration and training, Prakash said, with the company really breaking down in account mapping sessions how much time solution providers are spending with KELA and how much the company is giving back to them.

Training programs will be segmented by solution provider type need since referral partners need a different level of enablement than a salesperson for a reseller or MSSP, according to Prakash. KELA also looks a person’s role within the solution providers organization to determine what type of training would be most useful for them, and will formalize that to create a more structured approach, she said.

“They’re committed to the channel and they’re constantly giving back,” Prakash said.

Oakville, Ontario-based Softchoice, No. 32 on the 2020 CRN Solution Provider 500, has been carrying KELA for almost two years, and the company’s products have attracted substantial customer interest thanks to their ability to pick up Russian and Chinese text and dig up information everywhere from GitHub to online messages and posts, according to technical architect Andrea Knoblauch.

“The product really digs up how big a customer’s exposure is,” Knoblauch said. “The problem with KELA is that they’re just not well-known.”

Having someone with Prakash’s experience at KELA should help the company build out vendor alliances and a channel program that provides partner sales reps with better information and more coverage, said Knoblauch. Hiring more channel-facing personnel would help KELA better reach reps and customers, while giving partners market development funds (MDF) should help get the company’s name out better.

“They’re an Israeli company – they’re not U.S. born and bred – so they don’t get as much air coverage in North America,” Knoblauch said. “But they’re an awesome company to work with. Their solution should garner a lot more attention than it actually does.”

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