How to Dominate Industries that are Rapidly Changing with Kevin Lancaster
JLD: Boom, shake the room, fire nation. JLD here, and welcome to Entrepreneurs on Fire brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network with great shows like Success Story podcast. Today, we'll be sharing how to dominate industries that are rapidly changing. To drop these value bombs, I brought to Kevin Lancaster into EO Fire Studios. Kevin is an award- winning tech entrepreneur who scaled and exited the fastest growing cybersecurity company in the IT channel. He recently launched channelprogram. com to centralize the 2 trillion IT channel. Today, fire nation, we'll talk about how change brings opportunity, the$ 2 trillion challenge, and so much more when we get back from thanking our sponsors. Are you an investor or high net worth individual who is regularly involved in high stake deals? Then you need Ferret. Visit ferret. ai and use the code EOF to get access to Ferret's exclusive early beta app. That's ferret. ai code EOF. Online Marketing Made Easy podcast, hosted by Amy Porterfield, breaks down big ideas and strategies into actionable step- by- step processes, like her recent episode on what happens when a launch doesn't go as planned. Listen to Online Marketing Made Easy wherever you get your podcasts. Kevin, say what's up to fire nation, and share something that you believe about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
Kevin Lancaster: Well, thanks for having me, and what's up fire nation. That's a very thought provoking question, and I think my answer would be, it's really never too late to reinvent yourself and succeed. Contrary to what folks like Gladwell might say, it doesn't necessarily take 10,000 hours to do it. As long as you have drive, passion, and you're really willing or you're trying to solve a meaningful problem. I think reinvention is the key to success in your career.
JLD: I love that, because it may take 10,000 hours to become a true master of something, but it can take as little as a weekend to become better than 99% of the people in the world on a certain anything that you want to focus on. That's what we're talking about today, fire nation, is dominating industries that are rapidly changing, because Kevin's been able to do this as you heard in the introduction. I want to talk, Kevin, about common challenges. What are the common challenges that just seem to surface when industries like technology are just quickly scaling, and then rapidly changing?
Kevin Lancaster: First thing you see is that industries that are scaling quickly, they become noisy, they become chaotic. You get tons of new market entrants, competition increases, competition for attention increases. They become highly fragmented, often subdivided into hundreds of micro marketplaces. I mean, think about podcasting. Right? Podcasting started to matriculate, became a thing, and then now there's now millions-
Kevin Lancaster: Of podcasts, and that creates friction. Right? It creates friction in the sales process between the buyers and sellers, if we're talking about an industry. As everyone rushes, it furthers the chaos, and again, you see it happen across just about every major industry from podcasting, the automobiles, furniture, airlines, the internet. Innovation fuels growth, but when there's explosive growth, everybody wants in, thus chaos is born.
JLD: Chaos is born, fire nation. There's actually a great book that I love. Have you ever read the book Antifragile, Kevin?
Kevin Lancaster: I've not, I've not.
JLD: It's such a fantastic book. The author's incredible as well. He's written some books like Black Swan and others. He just talks about how people that actually grew up during times of change, during times of fragility, like maybe it was a civil war or a time of famine, or whatever it might be, a depression, those individuals, they have this antifragility about them where they can just take on the world. That's some of the issues that I think we're seeing today with people that are being coddled their entire lives, and then they have their first major challenge as an adult, and they just wilt like a flower because they just can't take any type of challenge or any type of just hard knock that may come their way. That's something to think about and something as we're kind of continuing this conversion into change, because change does bring opportunity, Kevin. When industries are changing so rapidly, what opportunity surface? What are you seeing in your world?
Kevin Lancaster: When you see these industries change, when you see any industry change, no matter what it is, if it's consumer or business B2B, we want some sense of normalcy. The buyer at the other end of the line wants sense of normalcy. We want choice, but we want it to be easy. We want to see these marketplaces consolidate, but we don't want to see less competition. Everyone's looking and for a home, a voice, a platform to lean on. That's why, I think, probably it's why your podcast is so popular. Right? You've done that with this podcast. Entrepreneurship and self- help, it's very noisy marketplaces, but you've eliminated a lot of that chaos. You've made it kind of a home, a safe place for people. When this happens, there is as chaos as we mentioned. That's why I like these large platform sites it's like cars. com and Angie's list. They make it easy. Right? One of the tricks is how to maximize these opportunities, but doing it in a way that you eliminate friction and help everybody accelerate the same time.
JLD: Now, one thing that I want to move into next is friction, because friction can be dangerous. At the same time, you can use it to your advantage when you know how to wield that weapon, that tool. Can you give us some examples of how you have tried to take friction out of different industries in your career? Let's get specific. I'd love a real specific example or two of how you've done this.
Kevin Lancaster: Appreciate the question. I made a career of trying to take a step back and look at different marketplaces and solve for this problem. How do you take friction out of these emerging marketplaces? Early on, going back to the post- dot com bubble, started out in government contracting, so started working on building, what I would consider, a lighthouse government contract consulting firm. The first thing I did, is I looked at the marketplace government contracting and said we need to build a home, a front door. It's a very complicated, convoluted marketplace. I went out and bought sites like governmentcontract. com and GSAschedule. com. They ended up becoming the front door of this multi- hundreds of billions of dollar industry. This is the time when, again, you had the post- dot com bubble 2001, with the global financial crisis of, I guess it was mid- 2000s up into 2012, and then along the way we had war time spending. It was a marketplace that, it was just insanely fragmented, insanely chaotic and a lot of friction, so we had to create resources that would help emerging contractors really understand the market, figure out how to get in and sell, and at the same time, help government agencies identify emerging vendors to solve their problems. That was pretty challenging. Then, after that, I had this moment of, I guess, clarity in 2014, where we were doing this great work in helping companies get into industry, and really, a lot of it was focused on technology. But, I said there's got to be a way to solve even bigger problems. Back then, this is before you had all the salacious data breaches like Dropbox and LinkedIn and what have you. But, early on in 2014, I started thinking about, how do we solve for this big issue called cybersecurity, and focused on compromised data and credentials. In'14, started this little prototype in early 2015, came out with this platform called Dark Web ID. It was really designed to, again, solve that problem, solve the friction in cybersecurity. You launched this product in early'15. Interestingly enough, in May/ June of 2015, we were hired by OPM to help them with the data breach response that they had suffered. It was a nation state that compromised OPM, and had stolen data on 4.2 million individuals, and we provided the identity and credit monitoring in response to that breach. But, again, looking at that industry cybersecurity, it's full of fragmentation, it's full of friction, because cybersecurity is so convoluted, it's so mysterious. We said, if we can focus in on the credential, the email address and password, and show people that their clear text password is out there on the dark web, maybe we can start changing behavior, and maybe we can start to take the friction out of this whole industry of cybersecurity. That's what we did. This platform went on to scale from zero partners to 2000, and ultimately when I exited after I sold it to a company called Kaseya, we were hovering around 5, 000 partners. But, it was all with the goal, this platform, the specific goal was to take the friction out of cybersecurity, and that's what it did.
JLD: I love this example, fire nation. I hope that you're listening and thinking, how can I apply what Kevin's talking about right now to my life, to my experiences, to my knowledge, to my areas of expertise. When you're walking around every day, keep your eyes, your ears open. You need to find, what is the void in the marketplace? What is an underserved opportunity? What's something that's maybe being ignored? What's something where I can be literally the best solution to a real problem in this world? We're going to be talking about the$ 2 trillion challenge, and so much more, when we get back from thanking our sponsors. According to the latest research, 90% of employers plan to make enhancing the employee experience a top priority in 2022. A happy workplace is key to attracting and keeping great employees. A few ways you can do that, try focusing on company culture, offering more learning opportunities, and allowing for more flexibility in work schedules. If you need to add more employees to your team, there's Zip Recruiter. Their matching technology helps you find the right people for your roles fast. Right now, you can try Zip Recruiter for free at ziprecruiter.com/ fire. How does it work? Zip Recruiter uses its powerful technology to find and match the right candidates up with your job. Then it proactively presents these candidates to you. You can easily review these recommended candidates, and invite your top choices to a life for your job, which encourages them to apply faster. Zip Recruiter's technology is so effective that four out of five employers who post on Zip Recruiter get a quality candidate within the first day. Find the right employees for your workplace with Zip Recruiter. Try it for free at this exclusive web address: ziprecruiter. com/ fire. That's zip recruiter. com/ fire. Zip Recruiter, the smartest way to hire. Who can you trust? It's an important question to ask yourself in today's online world. Social media, search engines, and websites can tell you a lot, but how do you do real due diligence so you have the confidence that a company or an individual is someone you can trust to do business with? With Ferret. Ferret is an ideal solution for investors, high net worth individuals, and everyone in between who are regularly involved in high stake deals. Using the same due diligence databases as banks and governments, Ferrets AI curates news and intelligence about your contacts and monitors them at all times. Every time you research someone or open notifications, the app learns more about what stories and people matter most. Stop leaving your reputation, investments, and security at risk. Ferret's cutting edge digital diligence app gives you total transparency into your personal and professional networks. Now that this kind of intelligence is available, can you afford not to know it? Is it ferret. ai and use the promo code EOF to get access to Ferret's exclusive early beta and information, previously only available to government and large banks, now right on your phone. That's ferret. ai, promo code EOF. We all want to scale our business, but depending on your goals, the steps might look different, and you might have to test a few things out before you find the strategy that will work best for you and your team. That's why you need a HubSpot CRM platform. With a HubSpot CRM platform, you have access to things like a sandbox account, where you can test various changes and functionalities in a safe environment before they go live, without impacting your main account. A HubSpot CRM platform also helps ensure your team stays connected with features like team email, so you can connect team wide email addresses to your shared inbox, turn incoming emails into tickets, or send them straight to your shared inbox. No more questions slipping through the cracks. Because your team is probably spread out across the globe, the HubSpot mobile app makes it possible for you and your team to work from anywhere. Highlights include business card scanning, caller ID, and more. Learn how to grow better by connecting your people, your customers, and your business at hubspot. com. Kevin, we're back, and I gave a little teaser of this$ 2 trillion challenge that you are so fired up about. What does that even mean?
Kevin Lancaster: Entrepreneurs are either gluttons for punishment, or I guess we're just all in a different breed to our own, or what have you. But, so early on as mentioned, right, started looking at this government contracting space, and massive multi- billion dollar industry, and how do we simplify that? Then cybersecurity, how do we make that simple? How do we change people's behavior by showing them their password and getting them to understand that they need to invest in security? Again, that's why that company scaled so fast. As I exited from Kaseya after they acquired my company and spent a couple years there, I said, what's the next big challenge that's out there? I could have sat on the sidelines and enjoyed my mini retirement. But, I was sitting on the sidelines thinking, what is next? It hit me. It was like, we've done so well with this company ID Agent and this product, Dark Web ID. How do we take what we did, the lessons learned from scaling that business and making things simple, that way the industry would understand it, how do we take that and how do we help other vendors and how do we help just the IT industry in general do the same thing? We dreamt up this concept called channelprogram. com. The channel, as you know, vendors have the opportunity to sell or technology vendors, organizations have the opportunity to sell either direct to their customer or through channel. Selling through channel, selling through intermediaries, IT resellers, IT service providers, it's roughly a two, two point trillion dollar marketplace. If we could apply those same principles, how do you take the friction out, how do you eliminate noise and chaos, we could have a meaningful impact on this massive industry. The whole idea behind Channel Program is take the 35,000- ish vendors that are out there, the IT software and hardware providers, the startups that, probably most of them, they listen to your podcast to get inspired or motivated to keep moving forward, but how do we take them and get them to focus on taking the chaos, eliminating the friction and eliminating the noise in their messaging as they enter the marketplace. Because, as everyone knows, technology is a very noisy, very crowded marketplace. Just about every cybersecurity company uses the ubiquitous hacker with the hoodie image. How do you differentiate that, yourself from that? Then on the other side, there's a million- plus people that work in the IT channel, so how do you make it easy for them? It's kind of a two- sided marketplace. We're taking the friction out of both sides of the marketplace, so helping the IT service provider, the MSP, the value added reseller, identify the right technologies, tune out all the noise, and look for solutions that help them keep their customers safe, help them grow their business, become more efficient, more profitable. You start out with these big, hairy, audacious goals of eliminating chaos, and eventually land on this is the way to do it. We can create a platform that makes it easy for both sides of the marketplace, the vendors that come in and make their story very simple and very understandable and relatable, and then on the other side, the buyer, the individuals that looking for these types of technologies, make their job of identifying vendors that much easier as well. When you do that, and you eliminate the friction, and you democratize the channel, and you hopefully scale the next big, big platform.
JLD: You've been hearing a theme, fire nation, democratize the channel, eliminate the friction, reduce the fragmentation. When you, Kevin, launched channelprogram. com, you used these big, audacious phrases that I just shared. Why? Why did you use these big, audacious phrases? What does it actually mean? Give us some more details about channelprogram. com.
Kevin Lancaster: When you start with a big, big concept, like eliminating friction out of a$ 2.2 trillion marketplace, you have to go big, to get people to recognize and understand really what you're all about. Then really, it comes down to, that's what we're trying to do. Right? What's interesting in just about any industry, when you have established dominant vendors out there, they make it really, really hard for emerging vendors, emerging manufacturers, service providers to enter a marketplace. The concept was, how can we take a platform and break as barriers, and really democratize the channel and eliminate friction. Right? By coaching these vendors to take the friction out. Don't be overly wordy, and just cut to the point, cut to the chase. Right? With this platform, right, we're leveling the playing field. We're allowing the emerging vendors to get in. Doesn't matter what size they are. It they're a Microsoft or the newest startup, they'll all have the ability to get in and play in this marketplace, grow in this marketplace. We started out with this concept called channel pitch. Again, we're giving everybody an equal, level playing field. The vendor gets seven minutes to pitch in front of hundreds, thousands of MSPs. The MSPs log in anonymously, and they provide anonymous feedback to the vendors about their value proposition, whether they see if their product's going to reduce costs, it's going to make them more profitable, better secure their customers. As mentioned, they log in anonymously, but then they also have the ability to engage if they want. It puts the control back into the IT service provider's hands, versus going to a big industry trade show, and then getting bombarded with calls after the show, because everybody gets the list of all the attendees. We started with that concept of channel pitch, and then we will iterate on this second element of the platform called channel explorer. Really, it's a hybrid or an amalgamation of, maybe think of it as a YouTube meets LinkedIn, where it's social. We can create a purpose built platform or industry, a home for the millions of people that are looking for technologies and the thousands of vendors that have it. We'll iterate with channel explorer over the next 3, 6, 9 months, and hopefully we grow this ecosystem and we take out that friction in this marketplace.
JLD: Kevin, I want you to take this home with a bang. What is the one thing that you really want to make sure our listeners get from our entire conversation today? I know you have a few amazing gifts for our listeners, so whatever call to action that may be, and then we'll say goodbye.
Kevin Lancaster: We started off by talking about the concept of reinventing yourself. Right? I think a lot of entrepreneurs, just a lot of individuals in general, they struggle with, what is my value proposition? What am I going to do in this world? How am I going to make an impact? That's a hard thing. A lot of people struggle with that. How do you create something meaningful and have a positive impact in the marketplace? I would just encourage anybody listening that, if you got that seed or that kernel of an idea, and you really believe in that idea, and you're really passionate about making change, do yourself a service and start to see that through right. Take the next step. Listening to this podcast is a phenomenal next step in your journey. It's never too late to reinvent yourself, and I think reinvention for the individual is really the key to success. Right? It's the key to growth and unlocking potential. I would encourage your audience that, if you've got the seed of an idea, as long as you're truly passionate about it, go out there and take that next step and start changing the world for good.
JLD: What do you have for our listeners call to actions, any gifts that they can have?
Kevin Lancaster: Well, one, they can certainly head over to channelprogram. com/ fire. They can register for a free profile and start exerting their influence on this marketplace. Two, when they register, I've created a how to cut through the noise presentation. A very simple guide, seven, eight steps of taking the friction out of a sales process. It goes back to just coaching a lot of these vendors, a lot of these technology startups. They want to talk about the color of the button on their screen or how great their team is, and all that stuff. It's like, no. Cut the noise. Tell the audience how you're going to help them make money, how are you going to have an impact, how are you going to better secure their customers. Focus on the outcomes, and that's what this guide will do. Help you focus on the outcomes. It's a real simple how to get started and eliminate the friction and the noise in your industry.
JLD: Fire nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you've been hanging out with KL and JLD today. Keep up that heat, head over to EOfire. com, type Kevin in the search bar, the shown notes page pop up with everything that we've been talking about here today, links to all that jazz. One more time, Kevin, what is that URL for fire nation to go to?
Kevin Lancaster: Channelprogram. com/ fire.
JLD: Kevin, thank you for sharing your truth, your knowledge, your value with fire nation today. For that, we salute you, and we'll catch you on the flip side.
Kevin Lancaster: Thank you.
JLD: Hey, fire nation. Today's value bomb content was brought to you by Kevin, and fire nation's successful entrepreneurs accomplish big goals. That's why I created the Freedom Journal to guide you in accomplishing your number one goal in a hundred days, and we're talking step- by- step. Visit the freedomjournal. com and I'll catch you there, or I'll catch you on the flip side. Are you an investor or high net worth individual who is regularly involved in high stake deals? Then you need Ferret. Visit ferret. ai and use the code EOF to get access to Ferret's exclusive early beta app. That's ferret. ai code EOF. Online Marketing Made Easy podcast, hosted by Amy Porterfield, breaks down big ideas and strategies into actionable step- by- step processes, like her recent episode on what happens when a launch doesn't go as planned. Listen to Online Marketing Made Easy wherever you get your podcasts.
Kevin Lancaster is an award-winning tech entrepreneur who scaled and exited the fastest growing cybersecurity company in the IT Channel. He recently launched ChannelProgram.com to centralize the $2 Trillion IT Channel.
Top 3 Value Bombs:
1. Reinvention is key to success in your career.
2. Use opportunities to help eliminate chaos in rapidly evolving industries.
3. If you have an idea and passion for making a change, believe in it, and take action.