Scott Price, CEO of cybersecurity firm A-LIGN, is an advocate of management by wandering around.
He and his team have a lot more space to wander around in, now that A-LIGN has grown its Tampa headquarters.
The company cut the ribbon last night on its expanded corporate offices, occupying a full floor in Rivergate Tower at 400 N. Ashley Dr. in Tampa.
The company also announced a $500,000 investment in the community, pledging donations to Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, Think Big for Kids and technology incubator programs over the next three years.
A-LIGN’s growth is an indication that years of efforts by business, government and civic leaders to establish a strong technology sector in the Tampa-St. Pete area are paying off, bringing new jobs and investment in the community.
Related story: Startup Report: A-LIGN
A-LIGN is a 10-year-old company, but it was somewhat under the radar locally until it received a $54.5 million growth equity investment from FTV Capital in July 2018.
Since then, the company has grown rapidly, with 74 percent employee growth in the past year alone. It now has 320 workers globally supporting 2,300 clients around the world.
The company needed more office space to keep up with staff growth.
“We moved in on this floor with 3,500 square feet four years ago. Now we have the entire floor, which is more than 16,000 square feet,” Price said.
There are business advantages to occupying an entire floor in Rivergate Tower, with its distinctive cylindrical shape and circular floorplates.
“Before, sales was at one end of the wedge that we had and at the other end was development,” Price said. “Now, having the whole circle makes people interact and collaborate more, walk around and approach people from different angles.”
A-LIGN also has the room now to put up announcements and graphical representations of the firm. The same work that goes on the walls in Tampa is in the company’s other locations — an office in Denver that opened in June, and its newly opened facility in Bulgaria, its first international expansion.
“We’re trying to create a single feel, and having the whole floor gives us more space to do that. It allows us to share what’s going with the firm on a global basis. We didn’t have the infrastructure in place before because we had less square footage. So we’re getting a little bit more collaboration amongst the teams. I call it management by wandering around,” Price said.
Constantly evolving regulations regarding security and data privacy are driving growth at A-LIGN. Businesses are concerned about regulatory fines that come with noncompliance. A-LIGN takes a consultative approach in working with them, educating each client about the standards and risks for their organization, and then creating a specific solution, Price said.
That’s a different approach in an industry where there are lots of products to address a growing number of threats, he said.
“We’re saying let’s back up and figure out what the proper solution is,” Price said. “Because we had a focus on reducing our turnover and increasing the education of our people, our people are able to educate our clients so well that we become the trusted advisor to them.”
The company is product-agnostic. “We’re not beholden to a flashy product. We’re more focused on how we reduce the risk.”
A-LIGN’s focus on talent has helped the company grow its staff, he said. A-LIGN has established a “farm system,” recruiting on college campuses as well as setting up A-LIGN University, a 12-week training program.
“We hire 40 to 60 college graduates that we put on the payroll and for 12 weeks all they do is learn,” Price said. “That farm system has allowed us to build talent at the consultant level.”
Tampa is an asset
As A-LIGN grows its practice, it also wants to grow its investment in the community. That’s the thinking behind the $500,000 pledge.
Price, who grew up in Clearwater and chose Tampa for A-LIGN’s headquarters, has seen too many other companies exit the area.
“I want Tampa to be an asset on our resume and not a liability. To have that asset, you need to make that investment in the asset. We’ve had 10 years of success and the investment from FTV Capital allows us to focus on this Tampa-first mentality,” Price said.
He cited similar community investments by Tribridge co-founder and entrepreneur Tony DiBenedetto, who is now the founder of Think Big for Kids, a nonprofit created to help underprivileged youth discover their untapped potential. DiBenedetto is on the A-LIGN board of directors.
ReliaQuest, a Tampa cybersecurity firm headed by Price’s friend, Brian Murphy, has committed $1 million to University of South Florida to fund the ReliaQuest Cybersecurity Labs at the USF Muma College of Business. KnowBe4, a cybersecurity company in Clearwater led by CEO Stu Sjouwerman, also gave the Muma College $1.75 million in cash and security awareness training.
“If we all pitch in together to do that, we can make Tampa an asset to our companies rather than a liability,” Price said. “I want people saying, ‘Wow, you’re headquartered in Tampa. I know why. Because it’s a great place to have a company.’”
He called it a long game.
“It won’t immediately drive employees to come to A-LIGN. But when someone else has a startup here in town and they have the resources to draw from internally in Tampa, they won’t have to look elsewhere to have the resources available to them,” Price said.