What was your first job?
Nick Verykios (NV): My first paid gig was as a singer/songwriter in a rock band. I had just turned 17 when a fairly well known local band returned from touring the US and sacked its singer. I was shipped in and started to get paid really well for what I had been doing in dingy inner city pubs for free beer. You don't want to know what my first non-paid job was.
How did you end up in the IT industry?
NV: I spent the first six years of my professional life in the consumer goods industry. They were classical marketing positions. In 1989 I got a call from an old colleague who was working at NetComm. He said marketing was a mystery, and therefore an opportunity, in the IT industry. My job was to commoditise the modem. I didn't even know what a modem was, or what computers really did or what IT stood for. But commoditise the modem I did, and then some.
How did you progress to where you are today?
NV: After NetComm listed on the ASX, it divested out of third-party products so I took a bunch of vendors that were gearing towards remote access solutions and started 1World Systems. I built 1World to revenues of $12 million and sold it in the fourth year to a Canadian company. Shortly after that I was having sushi with my friend, Scott Frew, who had also left NetComm to start LAN Systems and focus on networking. After too much saki, we decided to join forces again. We went from $8 million to $150 million in just over two years before selling the company to Westcon. I stayed around to run LAN Systems for a further three years and retired for about five months. I think I was on a meditation retreat in Vietnam when Scott called me and said we should have another go, this time in security. So we got together with John Labza and supercharged Firewall Systems.
What do you like about your current job?
NV: The freedom to create and the opportunity to be courageous. Every day is an opportunity to create vendor opportunities, customer excitement, careers for our staff, campaigns, channel programs, mayhem. I love how nothing is predictable but I know business success is judged in terms of financial results. We have gone from nothing to annualising $10 million in just 18 months.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
NV: What pisses me off is the amount of people who are paid to create barriers (and job security) by making a big deal about what the technology is. They pay very little homage to what it delivers. Technology is about zeros and ones at its binary level. Zero is nothing and one is not much more. So when people focus on the zeros and ones they set barriers to the real reason why technology is amazing.