Rocket IT Business Podcast | Robin Bienfait | Cyber Considerations for Growing Companies | Ep 3


Has your small company recently found itself on the fast-track for development? Are you vigilantly securing your digital assets on your quest to achieve organizational growth? Have you considered to benefit of enlisting the assistance of a technology-focused leader? In this episode of the Rocket IT Podcast, Matt and Eric of Rocket IT sit down with Robin Bienfait, Founder and Accelerator of Atlanta Tech Park, and CEO of Emnovate, an executive advisory firm based inside the Park’s facilities.

As an executive from AT&T, Blackberry and Samsung, Robin has both led innovation from within corporations, as well as invested herself in innovative technologies outside of these corporate hubs. Now, in an effort to share her expertise, Robin has created an ecosystem that curates innovation, engages entrepreneurs and accelerates business growth.

In This Episode, You’ll Hear More About…

  • How to effectively build business services.
  • What it takes to grow investment opportunities.
  • How to seek out partners and move up in the ranks.
  • The importance of being coachable.
  • How to properly balance security alongside growth.

Additionally, to remain up-to-date on topics pertaining to technology, leadership and business, follow us on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

Resources Mentioned

For More information

Atlanta Tech ParkINFO@107ATP.COM


Guest: Robin Bienfait

Host: Matt Hyatt

Co-Host: Eric Henderson

Show Notes

IT’s very own VP of technology, Eric Henderson. How are you doing today, Eric?

Eric Henderson (00:45):

I’m doing great. I’m excited to interview Robin and hear about her experiences working with growth oriented companies and executives.

Matt Hyatt (00:51):

That’s great to hear, Eric, as a reminder, the resources mentioned in today’s episode are readily available at rocketit dot com simply head over to our newsroom and scroll down until you find today’s segment. Now, without further ado, I’d like to say thank you to Robin for joining us today.

Robin Bienfait (01:07):

Thank you for having me.

Matt Hyatt (01:09):

Robin. Before we dive in, let’s get to know you a little bit. You’re an entrepreneur and an investor and advisor to a variety of businesses and nonprofit organizations, a public speaker, even a real estate mogul. Tell us about your background. How’d you get started and what led you to what you’re doing today?

Robin Bienfait (01:25):

Well, you know, I grew up in Valdosta, Georgia with a father that was a math teacher and a football coach and a baseball coach. And the cool thing is there were seven of us kids and each one of us very mathematically inclined wanted to do something in that space. Five of us are girls, so we didn’t play football or baseball. So we were the statisticians on the team. So, you know, somewhere along the line you play your role. And I really liked architecture. So I started working in architecture at the high school and when they wouldn’t let me in the woodworking class because they said, well, maybe she’ll lose a finger and then she wouldn’t be able to type and then she wouldn’t have a job. My dad was like, nah, you’re letting her in the class. So I got to get into the woodworking classes and other things. But then I realized, you know, I really liked this and I like the drawing aspect of it as well. So I found myself a job in a civil engineering firm as their lead draftsman. I happened to walk in the door and say, I’ll work for you for free because I want to check this out. And I walked in the first day and the second day their lead draftsman quit. So I became the leader by virtue of being the only draftsman.

Robin Bienfait (02:44):

So I worked for a civil engineering and serving company down in Valdosta. So while I was going to college and then found myself having the opportunity to go to England and do my engineering work at Cambridge and from there came back to the States, which worked for AT&T in their semiconductor device line manufacturing shop. Love that. They closed the shop down after about 18 months because another country was making our Silicon at a third of the price. And at the end of the day found myself looking for another job and me out of about eight other people out of this huge manufacturing facility got brought back into AT&T and I was brought into Atlanta because I was the only one who was not a chemical engineer, believe it or not. And they asked me did I know anything about divesting systems.

Robin Bienfait (03:42):

So at the time I divested AT&T’s billing system. So I came and cut the billing system up into all of its parts.

Matt Hyatt (03:51):

Your answer was yes I have lots of experience or no?

Robin Bienfait (03:57):

I told him you want me to cut something up? Sure I can do that as exactly I can cut something up, that’s not a problem. So of course the role I got was master files. So you get all the master files and that’s where you have to break all the data up. Hmm. And in some cases you have to get to understand the data very well. So I came in and the interesting thing is everybody else’s computer science, I’m engineering different thought process. So we were automating all the bill transactions of the processing between the carriers. And to be able to do that, you really have to understand how the network is built.

Robin Bienfait (04:36):

Hmm. So your underlying business is understanding how your network runs, how it’s built and then you can put charges against it. Mmm. Apparently I learned that really fast because I moved from that job. The ladder to becoming last man standing. I was under what they call a rule of two 72, where you have to stay separate for a year before the baby bells are brought back together. Almost kind of felt funny. I was in Cayman on the for day one. We were breaking them all apart and then on my last last year I was bringing them, some of them back together. But I was running the global network at that time and have at the time about 15 patents with AT&T. And one of my last patents with AT&T was to automate their global network, leveraging a mobile device. Just happened to be a Blackberry.

Robin Bienfait (05:31):

So the CEO and founder of Blackberry called me on the phone and said, what are you doing with my Blackberry over there? I said I automated all field services, it’s been less than a year. He said, can you come and visit me? Sure. So I went up to Canada, had a nice chat and talk with my clazerias. He was the CEO and founder of Blackberry, and he said, so when can you start working for us? I said, well, I have to out my rule of two 72 he said, when does that happen? I said, the end of this year, he says, I’ll wait. And he says, we’d like you to be our CIO. Yeah. I became the CIO, the CSO, the CTO of software. And I ran a, in my later days there, the enterprise business unit, which is a $9 billion business unit.

Robin Bienfait (06:22):

Yes. And it just turned into Blackberry right at the end. Okay. And so when we transitioned the two CEOs in my last year to an interim CEO, I told the board I was going to move on. So I packed my bags and three seconds after my announcement went out, Samsung called me and said, will you meet me up in New York? I said, sure, why not? I can say no to that. Samsung is a very friendly group of people. So I met with them and I told them I had to sit out for a year and the short of all of that is they said, Robin, what would you like to do? What do you think we need? So I flew over and got to see all of their strategies. So they’re different. Affiliates is to have 83 affiliates, which are different business units.

Robin Bienfait (07:14):

And so I got to see several of those. And I said, you don’t have any business services. I said, why don’t I help you build some business services? So I helped them build Samsung business services and I stayed with that for about three years. My last year I said, you know, I’m really interested in building out R and D for three D printing. We’re a little aviation company across the street. They said, feel free to do that along with what else you’re doing. We’re fine. And at the same time I was actually looking at investment opportunities for them to build out Samsung business services so that they would build it beyond the 300 million run rate we had that they wanted it up to around 6 billion or more and you can do so much organically. The rest of it has to be inorganic. And so kind of penciled in about 26 partners and 162 solutions that they should be looking at, drive that scale.

Robin Bienfait (08:11):

And then I realized if I can do that for them, I can do that for me. And came back and met Lisa Calhoun and Valor Ventures and joined her practice to help be the innovation and technology lead for Valor.

Matt Hyatt (08:26):

That’s terrific. Yeah. So today we’re sitting across the street from that aviation company and we’re sitting in your building, Atlanta Tech Park. That is housing a number of organizations. 76 of us here. Exactly. Including Emnovate, that you founded. Tell us about Emnovate. What is Emnovate?

Robin Bienfait (08:50):

Emnovate is an advisory service. So I want to help small, medium incorporates grow in scale in a different way. They will tell you a lot of people that innovation is no longer at the corporation. Well actually 85% of innovation from about five years ago has left corporation. So all innovation or really innovative capabilities are being built outside the corporation. So my job is to kind of mash up the corporate need with those entrepreneurs that are building that innovative capability. And that’s what this is that match up.

Matt Hyatt (09:28):

So this building makes it convenient I suppose to have a lot of these companies under one roof. Yeah. What’s, what’s your vision here? What, what do you imagine will continue to happen? Cause we’re pretty early in, well I think you told me founded in 2017 or 2019 I think you’ve got capacity for a hundred plus organizations, which you’ve already got 76? Wow. You’re going to be full. You need another location.

Robin Bienfait (09:54):

Everybody wants me to have another building . Now I really believe that there’s enough tech accelerators. I like the team out in West coast called plug and play and Syeda has a nice foundation. There’s other accelerators. There’s several up in Canada, there’s a few in Dubai, there’s one over in London. I just visited one called Station F in Francis, the largest tech accelerator over in Europe. And I really believe there’s going to be an opportunity to collaborate. So I’m not looking to be a commercial real estate Mogul as you might put it.

Matt Hyatt (10:32):

I’m sorry. Once you have two, it counts or mogul status.

Robin Bienfait (10:39):

Well, I liked the building cause you have to have a place to meet. And this gives us a nice combination of people having their own office in their own open workspace. These are all tech companies that are software based predominantly. Some have some hardware element to what they do. They’re a mix. Predominantly cyber a is in the equation and then you have, yeah, media, biotech and you have some med tech and let’s see some payment services and all the mix. So they, everybody’s got a little niche that they play in. But my Emnovate business, which is embracing innovation, allows me to coach those teams and also carry the liability of software for capability if I have to help them build. Actually some technology. Yeah. Yeah.

Matt Hyatt (11:31):

So help us out a little bit. Not everyone’s familiar with these terms. When you hear terms like the the venture that you were describing earlier that you’re part of with Lisa, hear the term accelerator, we’ve heard startups, we hear about all kinds of different terms. What do you mean exactly when you say an accelerator, how is that different than say I start up or how’s that different than coworking space.

Robin Bienfait (11:57):

And so we are not a coworking space, which you would call conventional. Sure. It is coworking because we are in an open space environment. Although I have a lot of security around your not only your physical space, but your logical space where you’re working. Developers are not peeking in on what you’re doing. So it gives you some cloaking. But at the same time, your incubator, which we have one down the street called Prototype Prime. Yep. Is where a lot of good startups can go to get free services. They’ve got a great idea. They need to finish building out their team. They’re trying to put together their MVP, which is there minimal viable product. They’re in some stage of getting going, no customers, they’re trying to still solve, you know, what customers set maybe they want to focus on or how they’re going to solve what problem they’re attacking. In an accelerator, the company’s already got traction. The companies here already have traction already have customers already have investors. A lot of them are already generating a lot of revenue. Some may not be a hundred percent profitable, but majority of them are. In some cases, this may be their second business, not their first. And most of these folks hopped out of a corporation. Sure. Popping out of school and starting into a startup. You’re popping out of a corporation cause they couldn’t solve a company issue, a company problem. And that burning desire to solve that is what’s driving their next.

Eric Henderson (13:37):

Yeah, they’re, they’re pushed off or it wasn’t politically, yeah.

Robin Bienfait (13:41):

I had a buddy in Chicago at a big media company. He tried to sell an idea for about five years. And finally he just got very frustrated and popped out and he build the business himself and the same company bought him back for $800 million.

Eric Henderson (13:58):

That’s an expensive mistake.

Robin Bienfait (13:59):

Yeah. And then he was there for a couple more years. Frustrated again, popped out 85% inside the corporation. So it’s very, it’s very important for corporations to be truly aware and transparent that innovation isn’t occurring inside their four walls and that they need to embrace the innovative spaces and entrepreneurs in this space and give them a sandbox to actually even test or integrate with some of their products and services.

Eric Henderson (14:34):

Cool. We can shift topics to accelerating the growth of Small businesses. You mentioned when you were working with Samsung that you proposal whole bunch of partnerships as a way to bridge that gap. Yeah. Listening to our podcast, it might seem very far out of reach between the top Samsung and where they are today. What are some strategies or tactics that someone, the small business would be five 10 25 people can you use to kind of approach that topic?

Robin Bienfait (15:02):

So even with a large corporation like Samsung, they have a partner portal and if you have something that you think, okay, plays in the mobility space, maybe mobile retesting, it could just be a solution or any business app, something like that. You registered on their partner portal, you go to their partner events, you start selling towards their product set. And once they see that you’re, yeah, a little bit of body in, but there’s some stickiness to your solution and their capability. You’ll move up the ranks within the partner and they, they start off with bronze and then they go to silver is typical with any, it’s like a frequent flyer program. And for those that move up those ranks, they get more services and more capability. In fact, sometimes they’ll get marketing dollars and integration. For a small company, I think it’s vital that they have partners, not each company has to build out.

Robin Bienfait (15:59):

Even sometimes their sales team. Sure, maybe they’re a great technology and they just need to find a channel that really promotes them and sells. And so if they can find a sales team out of another partner, why not? And by setting that partnership, you want to make sure that there’s grounds for success and if the success doesn’t occur, there’s grounds for moving on to somebody else or enlisting other partners.

Eric Henderson (16:24):

Okay. So if I hear you correctly, for someone like Samsung, that’s driving a portal themselves, whereas for a smaller company, it might be integrating into an existing system until they have some leverage within that system and they understand what they’re really about.

Robin Bienfait (16:39):

What I find very interesting is that the seven, just even the 76 companies here and our Valor ventures portfolio companies, when they get together, they start overlapping a little, they start chattering with each other and start building some of their capabilities together because one will bring something to the table that the other one doesn’t have. And of course it’s strengthened that capability and they figure a way out to integrate the products and then leverage selling relationships across both. So it’s very beneficial.

Eric Henderson (17:17):

That’s great. Okay. So I want to shift gears a little bit. I want to talk about maintaining a owner mentality. This is something we deal with even at Rocket IT. We have some team members that have a level of awareness and a mindset about them that is very owner focused as in they view the business as if they own it. And then we have other employees that struggle with this and they may see it from where they’re sitting and maybe not from other seats at the table. And so I’d love to hear about your experiences in dealing with this.

Robin Bienfait (17:47):

Well you see two types people. There’s one that you hear, Oh you need to be at this meeting and you need to fly there tomorrow. Great. There’s some people will fly on their time and there’s people that only want to fly on the company’s time and they, they just turn themselves really fast in both of those fashions. They the one that says, Hey, you know, I’m going to make sure that my eight to five or my window of time of being accessible to my customers and my customers can be internal boys as well, is there. And then I’m going to get on a flight at 6:00 PM and then you see people that need to be somewhere the next day. And they leave at noon out of the building.

Eric Henderson (18:27):

And so that’s your tell.

Robin Bienfait (18:30):

That’s my quick tell. The moment you ask somebody to fly somewhere and they pick during their daytime hours to fly and not during their personal time. And then the other shift, not that I’m trying to abuse somebody personal challenge, but if you’re a salaried employee and it’s an owner mentality, if you want to be an hourly employee, I can make that happen for you.

Eric Henderson (18:54):

You’re just not going to like the way that salary, you’re not going to grow up in the business. You have to have an owner’s mentality. I don’t care what business you’re in, even if it’s in a business you don’t like, you’re there, you’re signed up, you’re an employee. I even found this of people that were generating electrical property. And even with my patents, I think it’s funny, I want to use one of my patents out of AT&T and I went to go do that and they said that’ll be a million dollars. And I kind of smiled and I said, after I commercialize it, you want money or you want me just to have money to use the patent here on the table, you’re on the table right there. And I said okay then I’ll just write a rhino patent because I wrote the patent, I can write around it. That’s fine. I was just going to try being nice. But it’s that same thing. It’s almost like it’s, there’s a me versus human tower versus an us. But when you go to work for somebody, it’s an us, you’re at the table with them, they’re paying you good money to be there. Even it may not be the salary you want to make. It’s still good money and Mmm. You’ve agreed to provide a service to them. Yeah. And as an employee you need to have an owner mentality.

Matt Hyatt (20:14):

So is that something you can coach into someone? Or do you feel like they kind of come out of the box there? One or the other?

Robin Bienfait (20:20):

Um I’ve tried to coach and some are coachable and then there’s some that are just out of the box that way. And no matter what you do, they don’t want to travel on a Sunday evening. They don’t want to travel in the evening. Now, you know, if there’s medical conditions, there’s always going to be that sign that you want to take. But there’s not this Hey, it’s a work week. We really need to be there. And at the same time, you need to be in a five meeting on Friday. So, you know, I throw five o’clock meetings on Friday sometimes just to see her still at the table. But then I started hosting a little golf outing on a Friday afternoon, and that seemed, keep everybody at the table. Compromises, supported. But, you know, not all businesses have that. You have to be at your desk to need your customer be on the phone, be ready, responsible, be available. Yeah. And there goes that, you know, are you going to pay me to use my mobile phone? Right. That one was a big and it still isn’t a lot of companies, you know, if you want me to use my personal device, mobile phones at home and you should pay me for that time. Mmm no. You chose to have the flexibility and there’s always going to be trade offs. So it’s, it’s that, how do you blend the two to make that happen?

Matt Hyatt (21:46):

So we’re talking about the owner mentality. We’re talking about some folks are wired one way or the other, which has me thinking a lot about five, six people in the room. You have probably five or six different personalities. One thing that I’ve found is that sometimes some of my sharpest folks for some of the best ideas are the ones that are most reluctant to put those ideas out into the open. How do you draw that out of people? Or are you good at that? Do you know a way, a trick to get folks that maybe have a good idea or afraid to share it, to kind of get that out on the table?

Robin Bienfait (22:19):

Sometimes you have to start with, Mmm. Not being in the room. I have found that with me being in the room sometimes with the team, sure your presence is, suppresses some of that dialogue. Other times I find that being in the room [and not participating] but facilitating and I’m the one standing at the board and saying, okay, what idea do you have? What idea do you have that when you call on them and invite them into the conversation, sometimes that brings them out. I had a bad scenario happen one time that I had personnel room. He kept saying, if we do this, everything’s going to crash. And the person wasn’t speaking up loud enough and the team went forward with something and everything crashed for about two days, which was not good. And so, you know, in some, in some instances that that little quiet voice in the crowd is trying to warn of something that they can see and you have to make the, the team around them acknowledged that their presence and that they’re trying to contribute and they’re all coming at it from a different vantage point that you have to be in the room, kind of call them out sometimes.

Matt Hyatt (23:34):

Gotcha. Good stuff. Well let’s move on because I know that one thing that is hot on everyone’s minds these days, securing our networks, our intellectual property the very computers that we rely on every day, I’m gonna look around this room. We’ve got three or four, five devices open and running all the same time. Yet, cybersecurity is becoming a really big deal. The bad guys are getting better and better at fooling people and getting into the networks. And so one of the things that I’m interested in is as you are working with these accelerated companies is companies that are reaching a certain size and certain potential and they’re ready to take it to the next level and grow fast. How do you sort of Unchained them with all of the security requirements to keep things safe? How do you balance those two things? It’s gotta be pretty tough.

Robin Bienfait (24:25):

So in a lot of situations you have to sort of look at where they are on the landscape. First you want to secure their source code, make sure it’s in a secure environment. A lot of theft of source code happens from an insider. Sure. so you want to understand what your insider policies are, look around to see how you hired that person. And that insider status is, is probably the weakest link for most companies, even big ones today.

Eric Henderson (24:52):

And that applies to many things beyond source code, right? Sort of sensitive data, sensitive data, and even access to, you know, Mmm.

Robin Bienfait (25:01):

So things that they’re not supposed to have access to, but they have this awareness, there’s a trust level with somebody who’s already bullied. It takes your guard down. And the new threat that’s on the scene that nobody’s really looking at and it’s a form of cyber threat is it, you’re actually hiring this Cypress and it’s hard to weed them out and it’s, and they will come in and you’re thinking, how did I get this PhD? Willing to work for me for $80,000 a year is because you’re not their first paycheck. You’re their second paycheck, one third in this small paycheck. Right? But it allows them to live in the nice country that we live in and you know, be in another space. That’s the hardest one to find. How do you do that? It’s there’s telltale signs. There’s little things that you have to restrict people out of them. You have to create honeypots. Sure. To see who goes sniffing around in the honeypot.

Eric Henderson (26:00):

I don’t know if you saw this story recently, but the, there’s a lyrics website. Thought Google was stealing their lyrics so they hid apostrophe’s in Morse code. Oh. Like red handed. And then they saw Google uploaded that and then Google uploaded that. It’s basically a honeypot, but in a more entertaining fashion.

Eric Henderson (26:21):

Yeah. I mean, I would say for most organizations that is, but most of them haven’t even considered that that’s possible. Right.

Robin Bienfait (26:30):

Even though it’s very small, companies don’t have the human resources to really vet that type of activity. Mmm. You need an IT department that’s thinking differently. And when I say that, when you’re a small or medium business or even in this accelerating space, Mmm. You need an outside lens, whether that’s bringing somebody in to do a vulnerability scan or a test or even, you know, and that’s just a one time shot. It’s not a continuous, I used to build out capabilities that would actually orchestrate around each individual. And what it would allow you to do is see what your patterns of usage of the systems were. That was your footprint. Sure. Some point in time is your footprint started looking strange or if he showed up in two places at one time, some other things, little things like that.

Robin Bienfait (27:27):

A lot of our data’s already been stolen. Yeah. So at the end of the day, what you have to think from a personal perspective is how can I do things to slow down anybody from misusing it.

Eric Henderson (27:39):

Or modulating data so that they don’t have access to the full repo. Exactly. Yeah. In our, in our practice on this topic the number of meetings I’ve had with nontechnical executives where they ask after they think something’s happened and you go back and surveil this event, it’s like, well, you would have had to have asked me before it happened to be watching for the triggers that would make it happen.

Robin Bienfait (28:03):

I tell them the toothpaste is out of the tube if you want to put it back in.

Eric Henderson (28:09):

And nobody wants that. I don’t think. That’s funny. Okay.

Matt Hyatt (28:13):

One of the things that you mentioned in our recent conversations outside of this podcast is there’s something exciting going on on the road right outside our office here. Can you tell us about that?

Robin Bienfait (28:23):

Sure. In fact, there’s going to be a big launch event in August, so Sprint who’s the 5G provider is working with the City of Peachtree Corners to build out one of 50 R and D tracks for autonomous driving vehicles. And the test track is actually on our street, up and down in front of the park. And the cool thing is there’s one track already built. We’re going to be the second one of the 50 that will be built and we, the park, we’ll get a little space on the actual vehicle itself for all of our IOT entrepreneur. Yeah. And we’ll use it just capturing everything in addition, the track will also, as it’s being driven on, will generate power. Oh. And it’ll actually charge the electric cars that come to park. That was pretty cool.

Eric Henderson (29:24):

That was going to happen. It’s good. Found that out here today.

Matt Hyatt (29:27):

Yeah, that’s an exciting project. I am curious as we’ve we’ve discussed, security is a huge concern these days. So we have folks that are trying to infiltrate every kind of system. Yeah. One of the things that’s come as I’ve talked with friends and peers, when you’re talking about autonomous vehicles, does that create actually more opportunities for the bad guys to infiltrate a system and maybe do something with a moving object, like a car? Is that something that’s come up?

Robin Bienfait (29:57):

So you have to secure the communications, you have to secure the controls, you’ve got to do things so that the car only acts and operates with some type of signature. And that signature could be a voice signature, but that’s also gotta be secured.

Matt Hyatt (30:13):

Gotcha. Good stuff. Well, let’s move on because I know that I love to talk about autonomous vehicles all day. It’s pretty exciting, but I know that it’s only a limited amount of time here. So let’s, let’s move on to the next topic. I mentioned that Eric is our VP of Technology at Rocket IT. And in that capacity he often serves as a fractional CIO for our clients. And what I was really interested to hear about is you have quite a bit of experience coaching and working with CIO, CTOs, and other executives. So let’s unpack that a little bit. What did you do? Tell us about that part.

Robin Bienfait (30:50):

So even when I was at Blackberry and Samsung, I would be the CIO’s, CIO. And by thinking about that in those days when they were trying to roll out mobility, they had never done that. So I would go partner with the CIO and help them build out their strategy around mobility. [And] now a lot of people have a mobile first strategy. So when you think about a mobile first strategy and being a fractional, a lot of CIOs and CTOs or even CSOs don’t have a coaching peer. Sure. Somebody that bounce an idea off, they are alone. They’re actually under under threat in a way because a lot of them, their jobs are only good for 18 to 24 months in the event something happens. They’re the first one that gets fired, right? And so they’re on a hot seat. So they have to get things done quick. You have to be very mindful of what decisions they’re making. And a lot of times they will do things that cover, Mmm. Cover their corporate responsibility. I’ll say it that way. And, and when they do that, they’re doing it because the shareholders are asking for it. You know, the boss is screaming, you know what if we get a ransomware to sure [and] they, you know, their answer might be, you know, run.

Robin Bienfait (32:14):

If we get a reservoir, a deck, we don’t have, you know, maybe they could stay. We don’t even have money for disaster recovery. We don’t even have an offsite or set up location, right? We don’t have separate networks. We don’t have this, we don’t have that. And then you can get somebody screaming at you. What’s your ransomware attack plan? You know, what are you doing? And so having that access to an advisor, okay. Fractional CIO or fractional or even somebody that is in that technology space that can come and advise. And when I say advise not consult, I used the different, a consultant will come and tell you what you probably already know. And an advisor is really somebody there to make sure you’re successful and yeah. And, and to me sometimes they’ll bring, somebody will bring a consultant in because they want to know that seal of approval on what a third party to say, whatever Robin’s planning to do. A third party said yes. Because they couldn’t discern whether Robin, whatever Robin’s doing is right. But an advisor at the table really is, they’re looking for your success. [And] you need to hear it from several different sources. Sure. And they should be really interested in your space as well as the technology. But it’s like anything else, you need to look at advisors at different, through different lens.

Eric Henderson (33:35):

So it’s more around coaching and less around trying to position solutions or something like that.

Robin Bienfait (33:41):

Yeah. And the advisor can give you some puts and takes, sure. Mmm. You know, and I hate to use the depends word, but if your environment is set up, HP equipment, somebody coming in and telling you, Hey, you have to be very thing to the cloud. Yeah. You’re kind of like a, I’ve got this investment. You’re not paying attention to the reality of the world right here. Right, right. You know, okay, I can throw this investment away. But now, you know, last year I talked them all into buying all this equipment and now you’re telling me move to the cloud. Um well you say, well, make a private cloud out of your machines. Sure. And then you transition your backup recovery into a third party cloud solution. So you help them think through what they’re doing and even helping them market a little bit because a lot of them are technologists first and then business people second. And they have to keep to that balance where they understand that what they’re doing has business impact. I really loved Ed Steinike when he was at Coca Cola. He’s passed now, but he actually was able to, as a CIO to be in the boardroom and at the table with all the other executives. Huh. A lot of CIO’s still report to the CFO. Sure. And are still seen as a cost center and not a strategic player.

Eric Henderson (35:00):

Yeah, we liken it to, it’s like buying a boat. IT is basically buy boat. You just throw money on it, throw the money at it, occasionally does something good for you. It’s very different than something strategic.

Robin Bienfait (35:13):

Well, as we move more into the digital space, your it department and your CIO becomes strategic. Sure. And if you’re not treating them as a strategic member at the table, then you’re not setting yourself up for future success.

Matt Hyatt (35:30):

So Robin, let’s, let’s move on to our final topic. I would love to know you’re a professional of multiple decades. I’ll put it that way. It makes me sound very old and I don’t mean it that way. You’re a very experienced, capable person.

Matt Hyatt (35:45):

How do you keep, how do you keep growing because you’ve accomplished a lot. So are I’m interested that I do listen to certain podcasts. Are there books that you read or publications that you’d like to stay on top of how are? How are you as, Oh, well it’s a real estate mogul and investor and the entrepreneur. How are you continuing to grow and stay on top of your game?

Robin Bienfait (36:07):

I, I actually I don’t have a one direct answer for that. It’s almost like having your fingers in everything a little bit. But listening a lot. I love listening to podcasts as well because I can do that and do other things at the same time. So I like multitasking. Mmm in addition to that, I like books, but there’s not a particular book I would tell you is giving me one thing or another. Right? Yeah. Yeah. The, the thing I love the most is when I was at Bell Labs, I got to meet some of the smartest people on the planet and then I got to run Bell Labs for several years. [And] when you’re around those types of people you realize it’s making yourself accessible for some of those like crazy minds that are thinking about things all the time to go and have a conversation,

Eric Henderson (37:04):

Probably wouldn’t have a meeting with an executive very frequently.

Robin Bienfait (37:08):

You realize sometimes you know, a lot of the topics that are out there. Blockchain sure. If you look at frame relay, it was a relay set of systems is distributed. Blockchain is a very similar technology might lay out. Same idea. Same thing with AI. AI has been out for a long time. We’re just now getting into where the compute power I’m working on it. So it’s not that a lot of these things are new ideas. I think we’re just using them in new ways. Mmm.

Eric Henderson (37:40):

Isn’t viewed as crazy anymore. Yeah. Right, exactly. We went from cryptocurrencies to Walmart using it for, well this example has been used to death, but we’re using for tracking leafy vegetables that validates it a million times over what it was from when bitcoin was bounced in between. $100 to $20,000.

Robin Bienfait (37:58):

Right. And, and even in that same space. So I like to continue to innovate. I had a little incident with my back over the holidays and was staring at the ceiling for a couple of weeks. And so I wrote a patent. There we go. Wow. I’ve hurt my back. I got a patent out on my back this time. And so I do my first deployment in July. So I think if you stay in that creative space, if you find that you’re one of those people you don’t ever stop inventing, you just have to make a decision on which ones you invest in.

Eric Henderson (38:34):


Robin Bienfait (38:35):

Because they do take time and money.

Matt Hyatt (38:37):

Okay. Where can listeners find out more about Emnovate or Atlanta Tech Park and how can they reach out to you?

Robin Bienfait (38:45):

Come and visit us at the park, come and see us, come take a tour, become part of the ecosystem and be a member. If you’re a member of the park, you get time with me every month. Okay. And as some of my ecosystem, community partners and members here already say, once you’ve had an hour with Robin, you might not want one for a while. Well because I ask a lot of questions and we dig deep in what you’re working on and we’re trying to make sure that we’re really, you’re focused on making something that’s worth making. You’re not running around to all these conferences and doing things where it’s really not going to return the money. You want to make sure that your every penny that you spend, it’s worth the investment. Yeah. Yep.

Matt Hyatt (39:30):

So is there a website we can visit?

Robin Bienfait (39:32):

Yes. and as well. And that’s E M N O V A T E, correct? Yes, Embrace Innovation.

New Speaker (39:44):

Terrific. And with that, I think it’s almost time to wrap up and it has been truly an insightful discussion, Robin, for myself, Eric and our audience of listeners, we want to thank you for spending time with us today. We appreciate it very much so everyone tuning in, thank you for joining us. We hope this segment has provided you with a glimpse into scalable security measures that are needed to effectively facilitate, your organization’s growth. If you have questions about today’s discussion, please feel free to contact us at or send us a message via any of our social media channels. Thank you.

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