Partner Spotlight: Queensland’s ShadowSafe

Partner Spotlight: Queensland’s ShadowSafe

The director of the Queensland-based MSSP explains why he learned to let go of complete control.

James Bartrop (ShadowSafe)

James Bartrop (ShadowSafe)

Credit: ShadowSafe

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 Queensland and Woolloongabba-based managed security services provider (MSSP) ShadowSafe. 

Starting up a business by your lonesome is always hard work, and the need to be in control can make everything all the more difficult. That’s what happened to ShadowSafe’s director, James Bartrop, in the early days, but since then, he has realised the value of leaning on others. 

Starting out in 2012 in Wolloongabba, Bartrop was the only person running the business on a day-to-day basis, going through what he claimed was a “steep learning process”, learning how to run the business as well as “wearing the various hats that business owners need to wear initially”. 

Not only was Woolloongabba chosen as the starting point for the MSSP due to many of its clients being located close by, but Bartrop also rents space for the business from its accountant through a long-time friend. 

"One of the directors has been a friend of mine since I was 5 and it made sense from a strategic perspective as it gave us an opportunity to pass referrals seamlessly and get advice easily,” he said. 

Fast forward to the present and ShadowSafe now has a staff of eight, with the various hats of accounting, legal, admin and technical all passed on, leaving Bartrop to focus on business growth. 

It wasn’t an easy process to pass on those hats, however, as it posed quite the challenge for Bartrop. 

“I like to be in control and had issues with delegating tasks to my team where a client was involved,” he said. “I now have a great team that I trust and have become much better when delegating tasks.” 

For the most part, the MSSP works in the health and medical sectors, with financial services, manufacturing and transportation also forming a large part of ShadowSafe’s client base. 

Preparing for the worst

While ShadowSafe’s services were prepared for a number of catastrophic events, such as fire, flood, theft and ransomware, there was never a strategy regarding a global pandemic lasting for over a year.  

Regardless, it is this level of preparedness that has allowed Bartrop to support the MSSP’s clients during the pandemic thus far.  

“Being prepared for these types of events meant that our clients could already operate their systems and access their data securely from anywhere,” he said. 

In fact, Bartrop regards this level of over-preparedness as a major highlight for the MSSP over the last couple of years. 

“As a cyber security and business continuity focused business, we are always discussing a layered approach to protecting our clients’ businesses," he said. “As a result of this, the majority of our clients were impacted less as most of their services were ready geared for an event like this.” 

Backing the business’ services are its major partners and their respective technologies. According to Bartrop, this includes StorageCraft’s server disaster recovery capabilities, software-as-a-service (SaaS) protection from Datto, Microsoft with its cloud services and 3CX for cloud-based calling. 

In addition, Datto’s Autotask Professional Services Automation (PSA) cloud-based software is used to manage its service tickets, projects, contracts and billing. 

Communication is key

All in all, Bartrop chalks the success of ShadowSafe up to three core tenants. The first, he claims, was his aforementioned sense of being extremely prepared. 

“In the early days I spent a lot of time setting up good systems that have allowed us to scale up and automate various day to day tasks,” Bartrop said. “This has meant that we can be leaner on labour and more proactive with servicing our clients.” 

Secondly, the MSSP prides itself on its client-based communication, limiting what Bartrop referred to as “geek speak”, bringing conversations to solutions, rather than technical aspects, leading to a “significant” number of word-of-mouth referrals. 

That communication then leads into ShadowSafe’s third tenant — an attitude of simply doing what they say. 

"If we make a commitment, we meet it and communicate regularly," Bartrop claimed. “We find that our clients just want to be kept in the loop. A quick phone call to give an update about the status of a job, removes any complaints and alleviates anxiety for everyone.” 

Looking ahead, Bartrop believes 2021 is going to be a big year for ShadowSafe, claiming the MSSP is growing quicker than what has occurred previously over the last 10 years. 

"We continue to partner with great vendors to improve the value and service that we provide to our clients," he said. “We are also investing a significant amount of time and energy into the ongoing training of our team.”

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