Star Tribune: Growth accelerates for Twin Cities cybersecurity businesses

On February 14, 2021, NetSPI President and CEO Aaron Shilts was featured in the Star Tribune.

Many cybersecurity firms hit the brakes quickly and laid off workers when the pandemic hit last year, throwing the country into recession.

Their revenue was disrupted as corporate and government customers put off spending decisions and adjusted to new ways of work, with most employees logged in from home.

But the work-from-home model just as quickly presented them new opportunities, and many were staffing up by summer to stay ahead of demand.

“Our business ended up growing and we did great,” said CEO Aaron Shilts of Minneapolis-based NetSPI. “Some of our smaller customers slowed. But our Fortune 1000 [clients] never stopped growing.

“In some ways it accelerated our business,” he added. “We used to have wait a month for a sales meeting. Now everybody can jump on a telemeeting. I do worry about long-term effects on collaboration. Humans need to work together to maximize the results.”

NetSPI, an enterprise-security tester and system-vulnerability manager, said it grew sales 35% for a fourth year in a row and is approaching revenue of $50 million. Its employs more than 200 workers around the country and expects to add up to 50 more this year.

The firm works with large banks and several units of the Department of Defense. Like its clients, NetSPI had to adjust to remote work.

“Internally, we try to over-communicate and stay in touch,” Shilts said. “People do lose energy when they’re just on Zoom. Most would like to be in the office some. But they mostly got the job done from home. I think the future is probably more flexibility.”

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