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September 30, 2022 |

ConnectWise PitchIT Finalists Looking Forward to Final Showdown

AlertOps, Humanize IT, and Vonahi Security will vie to see who places first, second, and third in ConnectWise’s annual competition for startup makers of MSP software at the vendor’s IT Nation Connect event in November.

For AlertOps, Humanize IT, and Vonahi Security, it’s two hurdles down and one to go. 

The first hurdle the three tech startups cleared was being selected from among a record-setting pool of applicants as one of 18 contenders for top prizes in ConnectWise‘s 2022 PitchIT Accelerator Program. The second hurdle was being named one of three finalists.

That leaves one last hurdle: winning first prize in the PitchIT competition, and with it $70,000 of investment capital.

In a sense, though, the three companies are already winners. The second-place finisher will take home $30,000, and all of them will get free booths in the expo hall at ConnectWise’s IT Nation Connect event in Orlando this November plus one-on-one coaching from former PitchIT champions.

Like the other 15 PitchIT contestants, all three companies also participated in a 16-week incubation process that included workshops in sales and marketing, product development, channel-building, operations, and more, and received extensive coaching in communications and other essential skills for IT entrepreneurs.

Those activities culminated in an online “Battle Royale” hosted by IT network and marketplace Channel Program in which each vendor got five minutes to pitch their solution to an online audience of MSPs who then picked their favorites. Together with input from a panel of M&A consultants, industry experts, and other luminaries who served as judges, those audience votes determined the three finalists now advancing to the final round.

“The unanimous consensus was that their products were great for the space, they matched up to ConnectWise, and they had really good plans in place for what they’ve already done and where they’re going,” says Sean Lardo, the ConnectWise evangelist running this year’s PitchIT program. “That was huge for us.” 

It helped that the three finalists offer widely needed and complementary products as well. AlertOps, for example, makes software designed to consolidate and act on security alerts more efficiently. “We have automated escalations and multi-channel notifications as well as downstream automation with respect to workflows,” says Kamalesh Srikanth, the vendor’s manager of customer experience. 

The system lets users route alerts dynamically in customized, customer-specific ways based on type of issue, time of day, and other variables. They can also create, close, or update tickets, either automatically or with a single click, and build standard operating procedures for incident response, Srikanth notes. “Once those are templated, it’s really a click of a button to get that launched.”

Humanize IT, meanwhile, makes sales software designed to help MSPs close business faster and more reliably by converting technology presentations into business conversations. The system uses anonymous, aggregated data from across an MSP’s customer base to score clients in relation to other businesses on architecture, service, risk, and strategy. Users can then present that data, along with specific suggestions for raising scores, on a readable, user-friendly dashboard.

The result for most subscribers is dramatic gains in monthly recurring revenue, according to Adam Walter, Humanize IT’s founder. “They spend more time talking about the client and what they need, rather than spending the whole time explaining to them what Azure is or the latest SSD array,” he says. “The client doesn’t care. They need to know how you’re going to help me and my business succeed.”

Vonahi Security, for its part, helps businesses succeed by penetration testing their networks and cloud environments. That’s normally a hands-on procedure requiring dozens of hours of an expert’s time, making it too expensive for most SMBs to do more than once a year tops.

“The problem obviously with one-time pen test engagements is that they’re just not effective today,” notes Alton Johnson, Vonahi’s CEO. “We see vulnerabilities happen all the time, every day, all day.”

Vonahi’s pen tests are heavily automated and affordably priced. In fact, a one-year subscription for the service, which includes unlimited on-demand tests, costs about as much as a single manual test typically does, allowing MSPs who currently test clients annually if they test at all to do it monthly instead.

Johnson plans to invest his prize money, if he wins some, in Vonahi’s partner community. “We really would like to offer penetration testing for MSPs for free on their own business,” he says. 

Walter will pour any money he wins into new functionality enabling Humanize IT’s platform to tell users about customer contacts they haven’t spoken with in a dangerously long while, based on data in their PSA solution. AlertOps has all sorts of potential uses in mind for any winnings it collects, ranging from its partner program to its user interface to new APIs and machine learning technology.

All three companies agree that the coursework they completed before becoming finalists has already been a win in itself. “I saw where I was going well and where I wasn’t doing well and how to strengthen my platform,” Walter says. “The industry experts have kind of opened our eyes to what MSPs care about and how we’d want to think about it,” Srikanth adds.

That’s music to Lardo’s ears. The whole point of PitchIT, and ConnectWise’s Invent integration collaboration program too, is to nurture new additions to the vendor’s growing online app marketplace.

“The direction we’re heading is to become the IT supply chain company of this space, because we’re not just a software company anymore,” Lardo says.

Srikanth, Walter, and Johnson will get their last chance to impress PitchIT’s judges, live and in person, at IT Nation Connect on November 9th at 3:00pm EDT. All attendees at the show are welcome to watch. ConnectWise will announce who placed first, second, and third during the event’s first general session two hours later.

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