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Baltimore cybersecurity company expanding to Reno; plans to create 100 jobs

Chris Sachse is CEO of Think Stack.
Courtesy Think Stack

RENO, Nev. — In June 2011, while working for an IT service startup in the Baltimore area, Chris Sachse developed a plan to help the company expand.

The crux of his plan was to transform the operation into a national IT firm that focused on cybersecurity services for the financial industry. Confident he devised a plan built for success, he hoped the meeting with the ownership group would end with collective nods and hearty handshakes. 

That was not the case.

“They thought that business plan sucked,” Sachse said in a phone interview with the NNBW.

And so, two days after his plan was fed to the paper shredder, Sachse and his brother and colleague, Travis, left the company and started their own IT service business — “thankfully, we got the support of our wives to be broke for a little while,” Sachse laughed.

Those days of being broke are deep in the rear-view, though. The Sachse’s Baltimore-based company Think Stack quickly became an innovative cybersecurity and cloud company, serving everything from banks to credit unions to casinos.

In fact, nine years after booting up, Think Stack is on track to generate $8 million in revenue in 2020 and is in the process of expanding its operation to one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation: Northern Nevada.

‘THE BEST OF EVERYTHING WE WANTED’

With the need for a west coast presence, the desire to be in a thriving tech hub, and a staff that wants to be near mountains, Think Stack’s executive team felt Reno ticked all the boxes when they were searching for the best corner of the country to plant their flag, Sachse said.

“We have a 24/7 operation, so we needed to be as far west as we could get, but still on American soil,” said Sachse, noting the company also considered Spokane and Yakima in Washington state. “And we have a ton of people on our team that are big skiers, mountain climbers and backpackers. And then kind of the icing on the cake was the university (of Nevada, Reno) having some cybersecurity programs. So, being close to a place that has that type of young talent coming out is a perfect fit for us.

“We just felt like Reno had the best of everything that we wanted.”

Not to mention, Think Stack is exactly the kind of company that the Economic Development of Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) is working to bring to the region, said EDAWN CEO Mike Kazmierski.

“Our attraction efforts are focused on higher-wage jobs and companies that will create jobs of the future, which is often small tech companies like Think Stack,” Kazmierski said in an email to the NNBW.  

Sachse said Think Stack will initially launch in Reno with five to 10 people working out of a co-working space. At press time, the company was still in the process of deciding which co-working space it would settle into.

“It’ll be six to 12 months of what I’ll call ‘exploratory planting of the flag,’” Sachse said. “And then, assuming we’re able to find the talent that we need out there, we’ll find a more permanent home and start expanding our operations out there.”

PRIMED FOR GROWTH

What does that expansion look like?

Think Stack, which has a current staff of 40 people, plans to create between 75 and 100 jobs in Reno over the next five years, with salaries ranging from $45,000 to $150,000, Sachse said. Coinciding with that job growth, he expects the company to hit roughly $50 million in revenue in its fifth year in Northern Nevada. By then, he said about 65% of the Baltimore-based company will be based in Reno.

“We would prefer that our future growth will all happen in Reno,” said Sachse, pointing out Think Stack’s current challenges of being a cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area. “Where we are now is smack in the middle of the D.C. market in terms of cyber talent. Because we’re next to NASA, every tech company has at least a presence here, if not was founded here. So, we’re competing with 500 job openings every single day to try to find cyber talent.”

Sachse said he doesn’t see that being an issue in Reno.

“I feel like that talent is here, and I actually don’t feel like we have a ton of competitors out there, which is nice,” Sachse said. “There are some complimentary tech companies, but there’s not a ton of cybersecurity-focused service companies.”


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