After 15 years in IT, 39-year-old Jon Kalaugher has the perfect way to take his mind off work. He goes surfing, a sport the Aucklander dreamed of becoming a professional in when in his teens.
However, Kalaugher went to university and completed two years of an engineering degree before heading on an OE. It wasn’t until he reached Europe that he came into contact with people working in the IT industry.
“I met a few people in the [IT] industry over there and got an inkling that might be where I wanted to focus.”
With an IT career in mind, Kalaugher returned to New Zealand and enrolled at what was then the Auckland Institute of Technology to do a computer studies course.
He got his first break at Nestlé, working as a network administrator from 1994 to 1997, then moved into a contract role with Ubix (now OneSource) Business Machines.
He took time off at the end of 1997 for more overseas travel and IT industry certification.
From 1998 to 2000, Kalaugher was the IT manager at building supplier Independent Timber Merchants.
“That’s where I got levels of exposure to the managed service concept, where people were coming in and providing services for us.”
This was followed by a move to Sphere Business Group to work as an IT security manager from 2000 to 2002.
“They were an interesting company [which wrote] software for financial services companies up in Europe.”
He says it was a “great business”, but that the 2001 Twin Towers tragedy caused problems for the company.
“A lot of their clients, such as Goldman Sachs, were located in the Twin Towers, so the big global banks put the handbrake on spending after that time. That helped me make my mind up to start my own business.”
He set up Securecom with business partner Andrew Holding in April 2002. Kalaugher remains a 50 percent shareholder in Securecom and now sits on the board of directors.
“After the Sphere Group I felt I had enough experience and the timing was right to set the business up. I spent a lot of time building up Securecom and it has got to the point now where it has a lot of strong revenues behind it. It has got some reasonably mature business systems, but I was looking for a new challenge.”
Naverisk, which he started in early 2009, emerged as a result of his experiences with managed services at Securecom. The company’s name is short for navigate risk.
“Securecom has a very high percentage of its revenue coming from the managed services concept. They do a lot of hosting and cloud formats. I started looking at all the [managed services] tools in the market and wasn’t all that impressed with what I saw. We tried several platforms and the end result was I looked at the concept of Naverisk.”
Before starting Naversik, Kalaugher travelled to Europe for several months to research managed services platforms.
“If the clients are having some sort of IT failure, then it’s a great source of revenue for the service provider. Now that the economy is a bit tighter, I think people are looking for a better understanding of what their costs are going to be.”
He says Naverisk is using a direct sales team at the moment, but is in discussions with several distributors about possible partnerships.
“We’re a low-cost, high-volume product. So while direct sales are good to get the business off the ground we do need to look to the channel because they have the client numbers.”
He says starting Naverisk from scratch has brought some new challenges. “With a services business I could go down to Dick Smith and buy my PC tool kit. But with Naverisk, I’ve had to build almost a complete business before going to market.”
To relax and get away from IT, Kalaugher hits the surf whenever he can.
“Living in Auckland you’re going to be involved [in water sports] if you grow up around here. Surfing is my passion outside of work. It gives me a chance to go to some interesting places in the world, such as Sumatra and Tahiti. Doing something that is totally removed from IT gives me a good balance.”
He says financial services company Xero has helped educate the market on cloud computing and software as a service.
“They’ve proved the viability of the delivery model and that has been quite nice for our company, as it hosts some of the products in the same space as Xero.”
Naverisk has just launched into Australia where Kalaugher expects to see similar success. “We have been in discussions with some high profile investors with a view to the global markets as well and this has been a very interesting experience.”