The ‘Partner Spotlight’ series explores partners operating in the local channel landscape right around the country, from Cape York to Hobart, Byron Bay to Fremantle and beyond. In this edition, we focus on the Northern Territory and Darwin-based cyber security consulting practice Binary Security.
Binary Security has been through a whirlwind of emotions over the last 12 months. From dizzying highs to crushing lows and then back up again, this entirely Indigenous-owned consultancy has certainly been through a lot, to say the least.
With managing director Stewart Stacey at the helm, things are set to get even better.
Stacey started the consultancy in 2018 after taking up various government roles over the years, opening its doors as Binary Security. While it did attract some attention, constant calls for security guards and guard dogs caused him to consider the need for a rebrand.
“When I created the company, I thought, 'Binary Security, binary language' — it was fairly obvious that it was a technology company. But it turns out, that's not the case,” he told ARN.
As a result, the business first decided to move over to the Digital Shield branding in January 2020, which Stacey claimed was a much more “IT defined company”.
However, ARN understands that the success of winning some significant contracts under the Binary Security name caused Stacey to go back to the previous brand in the first calendar quarter of 2021, with Digital Shield remaining as the name for the business’ security operations centre (SOC) offering.
Unlike the brand of the consultancy over the years, Stacey’s two goals have remained the same — the first was to make money, and the second was to help out with the under-representation of First Nations people in high-technology fields.
“Throughout my career, I've never really met another manager level role that's Indigenous, it's only ever been me," he said. “As I've gotten older, that need to get back in and do something in the community just grew and grew.
“So, I jumped ship, left the government and said, 'I'm going to go and do this.'"
Although the consultancy was set up in the Northern Territory, Stacey made the conscious effort to quickly hit up the east coast, travelling extensively around the country in the first two years of the business, as he believed that’s where the money was.
The decision paid off, as 90 per cent of Binary Security’s work now comes from interstate, with half of its workload coming from the defence sector, while the other half is middle- to large-sized enterprises.
Today, Binary Security has four staff members, but there were plans for the consultancy to be further along than it is today.
"I formally launched the consultancy practice in January 2020. So, I put on a national sales manager and opened an office in Adelaide and Sydney. We had a growth strategy, we were going to employ multiple salespeople; we were going to have four by the middle of the year,” he said. “But eight weeks later after launch, COVID hit.”
On top of everything else, Stacey said the consultancy had just won a pretty significant contract — with what he called a very large tourism provider.
“When the borders closed, they were affected very, very badly. So, we were running some several million dollars with a project for that company and they put all of those on hold, as you would expect,” he said.
“I won't lie, it hurt a lot. We spent a lot of money getting ready to launch, spent a lot of money just on setting up. And once COVID hit, it was very hard to get people to engage with our services because obviously a lot of companies had bigger problems on their hands than cyber.”
After the project was put on hold, Binary Security shifted its focus to smaller cases, and as such has had a few smaller wins under its belt — opportunities that focus on some annuity income, which would then go towards re-establishing itself and employing other people.
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