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'7 Minutes' With Mist Systems VP of Channels Mike Anderson

Customers interested in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy for IoT and location?

Lorna Garey

November 8, 2017

5 Min Read
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**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies that may be new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**

Mist Systems was founded in 2014, raised two funding rounds last year worth more than $42 million and capped 2017 with inclusion in the visionary square of Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for wired and wireless LAN access infrastructure. It shares that real estate with Extreme Networks, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and Aerohive, but has posted impressive sales numbers – over 200-percent year-over-year growth – in a market segment not exactly known for sexy techs like AI and machine learning, which Mist uses to improve the efficiency of Wi-Fi.

The Mist Learning WLAN uses physical APs connected to a cloud-based management system that adapts in real-time to changes in user, device and application behavior. The APs support Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) location-based services, quite attractive to retailers looking to gather insights into how shoppers behave in their brick-and-mortar locations. And, Mist offers a certification for delivering wireless as a service; we think managed Wi-Fi is a great business op for partners, as we discuss in this report.

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Mist Systems’ Mike Anderson

We invited Mist VP of channels Mike Anderson to explain how all this benefits VARs, resellers and MSPs. Anderson came to Mist from Barracuda Networks, where he built the company’s national channel program.

Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?

Mike Anderson: Our customers love that Mist is the first AI-driven wireless platform, designed specifically for the smart-device era. The Mist Learning Wireless LAN makes Wi-Fi predictable, reliable and measurable by providing unprecedented visibility into the user experience and by replacing time-consuming manual IT tasks with proactive automation.

Additionally, Mist is the first vendor to bring enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, BLE and IoT together to deliver personalized, location-based wireless services without requiring battery-powered beacons. Our operations are managed via Mist’s modern cloud architecture for maximum scalability, agility, and performance. Today, companies of all sizes, from SMBs to large enterprises, leverage Mist to simplify wireless operations. We have over 250 customers (including eight of the Fortune 100) in a range of industries including retail, health care, hospitality, technology, education and more.

CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features?

MA: We recently launched a new channel partner program to accelerate the adoption of AI-driven cloud wireless, which includes flexible pricing, extensive training and unique content for both traditional resellers and managed service providers..

Mist’s MSP program is the first of its kind in the wireless industry, with several innovative features that enable solution providers to deliver wireless as a robust managed service offering including:

  • Flexible pricing: Mist offers a “self-serve” approach that allows MSPs to purchase Mist products and services in the way that best aligns with their individual business models.

  • Custom branding: MSPs can build their own brand leveraging Mist with provisions for white labeling a Mist powered solution (UI and Access Points).

  • Tiering: There are multiple tiers in the Mist partner program to reward extra volume and commitment from partners.

  • Industry-first certification for AI-driven cloud Wi-Fi and BLE: Mist’s new online Mist Master certification program trains partners how to design, deploy and operate a Mist solution.

  • Online partner portal: A new online portal is available to all Mist partners with sales tools, educational material, instructional videos and more.

  • Co-op marketing funds: Mist is committed to working with partners on joint marketing events to raise awareness for AI-driven wireless and drive demand for modern cloud-based solutions.

As a channel-focused company, we’re dedicated to developing, building and …

… maintaining strong relationships with our partners. From VARs to MSPs, Mist is committed to working with our partners to ensure an amazing wireless experience.

CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.

MA: In just over a year since launch, we have signed over 100 solution providers across numerous countries. These partners have enabled us to become one of the fastest growing vendors in the history of wireless networking, with marquee customers in every industry segment.

Our goal is to drive all of our business through channels. Because we are a cloud-hosted platform with multiple software services, and we are not over-distributed like other WLAN vendors, Mist partners receive very healthy margins.

CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better? 

MA: Mist is the new wireless network. We are picking up where traditional wireless LAN solutions left off, which means we compete with all the “old” Wi-Fi products that have been around for over a decade. Our differentiation lies in four core areas:

  • AI-driven operations, such as event correlation and predictive recommendations

  • Unprecedented insight into the user experience, including customizable Wi-Fi service levels

  • High accuracy location using virtual BLE (no battery beacons required)

  • 100 percent open and programmable

CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?

MA: Mist is going to keep focusing on making Wi-Fi more predictable, reliable and measurable, with a built-in wireless assistant to simplify operations and lower costs. We want to make BLE location services a “must have” through virtualization. Our goal is to shepherd in an era of mass-market adoption of indoor location by converging Wi-Fi, BLE and IoT together into a scalable enterprise-grade solution. We won’t rest until we’ve put an end to mediocre Wi-Fi.

CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that time frame?

MA: The biggest focus right now is on expanding our coverage and scale through the addition of new MSPs, resellers and distributors in key markets.

CP:What didn’t we ask that partners should know?

MA: Mist has the first and only certification program for delivering wireless as a service. We encourage partners to become “Mist Masters” as it equips them to lead the industry into the next wave of wireless networking. Plus it unlocks various additional benefits within the Mist partner program.

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