Matthew WilsonPenten is a Canberra-based cybersecurity company that provides secure wireless devices for classified information exchange to Defence and other government agencies in Australia and overseas. Penten's products include AltoCrypt technology which secures sensitive information in a small device, the size of a USB and on a commercial phone; TrapDocs, which helps to detect and track unauthorised access to documents and files; and Tactical Communications Security, which creates entirely sovereign communication solutions for battlefield, emergency and disaster situations.
Penten employs 132 staff and assists clients in over five countries, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and the US to protect their systems and data against digital threats. Focussed on true innovation and pushing the boundaries of technology, the ethos of the company is to try and solve problems that haven’t been solved globally before.

Solving the hardest cyber challenges of tomorrow

Penten was established in 2014 by a group of five founders and has been recognised for its achievements over the last 6 years including being named Telstra Business of the Year in 2018, Cyber Business of the Year 2019 and 2020, and the AFRs Most Innovative Company of 2019.
CEO Matthew Wilson believes that cybersecurity provides Australia with the opportunity to become a world leader in the field exporting especially to the five-eyes partners - the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
He says the company has been concentrating on the ‘global whitespace’ looking at the growing number of problems that need to be solved especially in the areas of cyber, electronic warfare, communication and information.
Penten is therefore focused on creating capability or technologies where those technologies could fundamentally transform a market. This means that from its early days Penten had a global marketing mindset. Rather than trying to adapt to an existing market where they would need to compete with international companies trying to create tech in a crowded space, they focused on new threats needing new solutions in the cyber and defence space. This provides a lot of opportunities for Penten and enables the organisation to focus on new problem areas that aren’t being solved.
Unlike other companies introducing transformative products where the biggest challenge is convincing customers you have the solution to a problem they don’t know they have; Penten’s customers know they have a problem. They just don’t know how to solve it.

PentenPartnerships that demonstrate Australian capability

Matthew says their exporting journey has been a bit non-traditional, because they are exporting intellectual property rather than physical things. In 2020 Penten joined the C4 EDGE (Evolutionary Digital Ground Environment) Communications Program. The C4 EDGE program will change the way people overseas see Australian industry’s capability. Penten was one of 21 businesses welcomed to Team C4 EDGE and it means that when Penten approaches a potential international client, they won’t be going in completely cold.
Matthew says that when it comes to exporting, they aren’t just building something and then selling it in another market, they are actually enabling another market. For example, one of Penten’s core technologies is licensed to a partner in the UK. The actual sales generated from that are 10 times the size of the royalty fee. This royalty-based structure means that Penten designs and supports the manufacturer in that market to be able to support their government's specific requirements. Local partnerships can therefore be particularly beneficial and sales of this product in the UK will be about $50 million this coming year.
Penten uses a very similar model in the US. A local partner can support the requirements of that local government, but allows Penten to have a more collective efficiency in the way that they deliver. This is done transparently and in the full view of all their clients - Australian, British and American clients. It is done in a way that makes sure that those elements that need to be sovereign are respected.
Matthew believes that finding local partners can help you especially when you're selling technology to government. There are local constraints in what drives relationships, what drives procurement, what drives acceptance of new technologies, and acceptance of technologies that might not come from a local provider. Forging local relationships can help you to navigate these complexities. You can spin your wheels trying to understand all of that or you can find a partner to support your current entry point.

Investing in R&D – developing deeper relationships with early adopters

Matthew says that if all you are trying to do is sell more product into a market then finding and empowering a reseller to work with you will get the job done. However, if you want to have a deeper relationship with that customer base, then you have to be a little bit more thoughtful about the way you approach the market. As a cyber company, Penten is very narrowly focused and they have tried to build the world's best teams in the capabilities that they have gone after. Early adopter purchasers recognise this. Working with early adopters on small contracts allows them to really try and understand and test the market.
Early Adopters are particularly important to Penten, whether they're here in Australia, or, the UK which has been an important market for them. Matthew says it's about building a relationship of trust and performance to allow them to see that you genuinely understand the problems that they have. It's only when you can have an engagement with an early adopter who's willing to articulate how their problems are affecting them and what they want in relation to the solution that you can come to a better conclusion. Matthew says that of all of the technology and all the products that they have created, the best products were those where early adopters really engaged in the development process with them. This helped to ensure that their needs were being met, and the nuances of the circumstance that they have to deal with were being addressed by the technology that was being created.

PentenMarketing challenges when most of your work is sensitive

Penten works with exclusive clients to solve some of the hardest cyber challenges of tomorrow. With governments and defence as their major clients, most of Penten’s work is sensitive in nature. This can make traditional marketing challenging. However, the biggest measure of success for Penten, is repeat business.
According to Matthew, if they have been able to engage with a customer and that customer comes back again to evolve the capability that they were building for them, or gives them another problem to have a look at - that is a measure of success. Many of the technologies that they create are really designed to have an impact on the people that work in defence and government. From an impact perspective, one of the things that is most powerful for the people at Penten is when people within those environments provide feedback on how their lives have become better, how they've become more efficient and it's safer. They operate in ways that they couldn't have done otherwise. Those stories are particularly important and almost always translate into the capability growing, because if it's successful, then they want more of it. And they want to tell their friends about it. Word-of-mouth is the most successful marketing strategy for Penten.

People are integral to success

Matthew believes that the organisation’s culture is one of its biggest assets and commitment to diversity provides a competitive advantage as they grow.

Veterans comprise 28 per cent of Penten’s workforce and recently Matthew received a Highly Commended award for the Male Champion of Change category in the AWSN (Australian Women in Security Network) Awards.
Penten has always aimed to build a female friendly workplace. National security is not normally thought of as an industry friendly to women and globally women make up less than 20 per cent of the sector and in the APAC cyber security sector, only 10 per cent of the workforce is female.
Penten currently has a 25 per cent female workforce and the company is steadily working towards its goal of a 50-50 gender split amongst its team.

Ensuring sustainable development

Matthew believes that for Penten it’s about specialisation, having a very clear focus, and going very deep in those areas. This does require the organisation to invest significantly into research and development. It’s also vital that they drive active engagement with customers and those that are most affected by any of the vulnerabilities or adversaries.
Penten also aims to support customers in the way they want to be supported. The UK market is an important market to the organisation. It is one where they are there primarily, because their customers wanted them to be there. “They wanted us to help their partners within that space, so we're looking to try and find respectful ways of making that happen,” says Matthew.
For more information about Penten visit

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