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Vermont Firm Grows As Cybersecurity Worries Rise

VPR/Steve Zind
Dave Porcello founded Pwnie Express in 2010.

A long list of well-publicized Internet breaches has helped fuel sales at Pwnie Express.

The company makes sensors that search for vulnerabilities in the hard to reach recesses of sprawling online networks. Often the weak spots are in company branches or outlets outside of the main office. 

Dave Porcello started Pwnie Express in 2010 in a building in an industrial area down a dirt road in Berlin. 

"We've actually found more availability of engineers in Vermont vs. Boston. I believe that's because there are less high tech jobs available in Vermont, but a lot of great programs in our colleges and universities." - Dave Porcello, Pwnie Express

In the past year, he’s added two new locations, including a small engineering site in Burlington and a storefront sales and marketing office in Boston. The growth was financed by $5.1 million in venture capital money.

The company now has 18 employees, which Porcello estimates is triple the number of in-house employees one year ago.

“We’ve been doubling in size roughly every year since we started and I expect that to continue,” says Porcello. “Obviously not indefinitely, but for another several years.”

Pwnie Express’ 1,500 customers are mid to large sized private companies. Many are in the financial, health care, retail and hospitality industries. The company also has some government clients.    

Porcello says the next big step is the roll-out of a platform that will make it possible to manage numerous Pwnie Express devices from a central console. That creates the potential to deploy many more of the company’s products.  

He says despite putting the sales and marketing side of the business in Boston, there are good reasons to keep engineering in Vermont.  

“We’ve actually found more availability of engineers in Vermont vs. Boston,” says Porcello. “I believe that’s because there are less high tech jobs available in Vermont, but a lot of great programs in our colleges and universities, great technical programs where these kids are graduating and a portion of them would like to stay in Vermont after they graduate.”

Porcello says he’s found plenty of home-grown talent coming out of programs at the University of Vermont, Champlain College and Vermont Technical College – and he’s hiring now.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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