A small-town media guy may be making a global impact with his company’s innovative networking product, but he has no plans to leave the South Georgian Bay area he and his family call home.
For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we sat down with Kai Hulshof, co-founder of Canopy Media and Chief Operating Officer for Jentu Technologies Inc.
Q: What is your background? How long have you lived in the area?
A: I was born and raised in Owen Sound, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to be in Collingwood.
I did leave the area for a decade. My wife and I decided to move back to the area, because we could.
We drove from Collingwood to Kincardine all along the south of the Bruce Peninsula over the course of one weekend.
We decided to move near Thornbury, and set up the business in Collingwood in 2009/2010.
Q: What was your background before you decided to start your own business?
A: I graduated with a diploma in journalism from Loyalist College after university. I have an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies and a teaching degree.
I started in journalism at a small community newspaper in Eastern Ontario that was bought by Quebecor.
My background was in journalism, but I could see the writing on the wall for me, that this was not going to be a long-term engagement. I knew over the course of time, it was going to be difficult for me to provide for my family in the way that I wanted to.
Q: Is that what made you want to come to Collingwood?
A: No, actually. Collingwood was very appealing to us for a long time, due to a number of factors.
First and foremost, I missed my family in Owen Sound. I missed Georgian Bay a lot. I grew up on Georgian Bay. Having that summer experience was a big part of who I am. I missed the Niagara Escarpment as well.
Collingwood is an amazing town, as is Thornbury.
My wife and I, we risked it all because we felt like things were going to be great for us here, and that’s absolutely been the case. We love living here and we’d never consider living anywhere else.
Q: Can you tell me about your businesses?
A: Canopy Media is a marketing and communications company that I founded with a business partner in 2007.
This business can be run from anywhere with an internet connection, which makes it very portable. My business partner is still in Eastern Ontario and manages Eastern Ontario clients.
Q: What made you want to start your own media company in the first place?
A: I have a strong communications and public relations background.
My business partner has a very strong technical background.
We had discussed this over the course of a few years. Even with my engagement in journalism, I was still working to see if this could be a possibility.
I loved journalism, you need to know that.
I would still be a news editor today. I love community news. I believe deeply in the impact it has on a region, but I could also see it wasn’t going to work out long-term.
At the time, it was more website development that we started in. It evolved to strategic business development.
Q: You’re also the Chief Operating Officer for Jentu Technologies Inc. Can you talk about that a bit?
A: I was approached in 2016 by somebody local who had started Jentu. It’s not my company, I work for Jentu. I also have a small stake in Jentu.
When I was approached by this gentleman, I could see its potential as a business was huge.
It’s an amazing product that is right, and is good. I believe that people, businesses and governments need this product.
Q: What is the product?
Jentu is a software platform that allows you to manage a computer network system with the following benefits.
It offers instant breech mitigation. That means that in the event of a cryptolocker or malware, ransomware or virus, you can turn your network off. When you turn it back on, you can restore it to a previous state. Meaning, that ransomware or cryptolocker or malware is gone in the time that it takes you to turn your network off and on.
Q: How much time is that?
The alternative solutions that exist today would either be days, weeks or months, not to mention the collateral costs that are associated with that.
Baltimore was attacked yesterday. The ransomware cost is 13 bitcoin, which today is about $76,000 US, and they have 10 days to pay it.
We position it as a cyber-security product. On top of that, because of the way Jentu allows you to manage your computer networks, your network also operates at a minimum of 10,000 times faster.
Imagine if it were two times faster. You would be very happy.
The third collateral benefit is it’s extremely cost-effective to run your network. We have case studies that say it’s in the 85 per cent range in terms of reduction of IT costs for a company.
It’s not just for enterprise-level clients either. Any small business that runs a computer network of five or more endpoints can significantly benefit from using Jentu within their network.
Q: You brought the Jentu software to the exC!te Business Pitch Competition last year, and you won the grand prize. What was that experience like?
A: Being a part of the competition was an amazing experience. My hat goes off to the (South Georgian Bay) Small Business Enterprise Centre and the community partners that put this event on.
Being forced to take your value proposition and condense it into five minutes to a group of judges was a great experience that allowed us to really work on how we talk about Jentu to the rest of the world in a way that’s efficient and delivers our message effectively.
Winning was fantastic. It was a lot of fun. Being a part of something like that really forces you to get it done, as opposed to think about getting it done.
Q: Do you have any advice for this year’s competitors?
A: Take the time to think about your business and try to condense it into a five-minute pitch. It’s very difficult to do.
First and foremost, my advice is, take part. It will take a few hours of your time, but you’re going to learn a lot along the way.
Also, don’t assume you don’t belong in the competition. There are a lot of amazing businesses locally; that’s absolutely true.
Yours is one of them.
Q: What does the future hold for you?
A: I have a lot of ideas and I write them down. I don’t execute on all of them.
With Canopy Media, I think we do amazing work. The people we work with, we know the value of our business to them. We don’t intend to stop doing that.
Jentu – that is very much a global play that has dramatic implications for the future.
It’s a really important project for me personally, that that solution sees the light of day at a global level.
I can tell you that we are talking with some of the largest companies and governments on the planet about Jentu, and their response is incredible.
They say things like, “This is like alien technology.”
They also say, “This is impossible.”
The things they’re seeing were impossible, until now.
It’s a crowded market, but nobody on the planet has a solution like Jentu.
For our feature People of Collingwood, we’ll be speaking with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way. This feature will run on CollingwoodToday every Saturday. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email email@example.com.