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TechVibe Talks to LastLine Cyber and My BFF Social

Interview by Jonathan Kersting


TechVibe Radio is back on air at ESPN 970 AM every Saturday at 8:00 a.m. from the Huntington Bank Studio.

Tech and talk go together like peanut butter and jelly on TechVibe Radio on ESPN 970 AM!

The Peanut Butter: Matt Gentile of My BFF Social talks about the nuttier side of helping brands and businesses develop and execute their social media, marketing and advertising strategy with a spread of technology help.

The Jelly: Josh Pribanic of LastLine Cyber will detail how your company can better defend itself against the evolving cyber threat landscape by teaching your employees how to prevent cyber-attacks.


So glad you're spending your Saturday morning hanging out with us here on TechVibe Radio. I'm your host Jonathan Kersting. I'm the VP of Communications at the Pittsburgh Technology Council. My usual co host and boss our CEO Audrey Russo is not with us here today. She's a bit under the weather. So I am flying the whole tech vibe radio jet all by myself. And I promise a good time. So when we're cruising at 30,000 feet, you can put your seat backs right back up and enjoy the show. As far as that goes. You got a great guest hanging out with us today really excited to talk to you Matt Gentile he is with My BFF Social and these guys are really mixing things up in a cool, fun way. I'm excited to learn more about his company, how he's helping his clients, and everything in between. So Matt, Hey, thanks for being part of the show today. Pleasure to have you here on the tech vibe radio jetliner.

Hey, thanks, Jonathan. I really appreciate you having me.

First off, what's your background? Man? I think everyone's got such a cool background story and how they kind of ended up doing what they're doing today. So I'm sure you've got a pretty rad story. Tell us what's going on with you, man. Sure, sure. So I am a proud native of Pittsburgh. I grew up in the southern most township in Allegheny County and Elizabeth forward. My grandfather, father and uncles, all were you know, former or some, in some instances, current members of US Steel. So problem still working tradition. They're very, my actual, you know, additional bona fides for being a native pittsburgher I guess. I had my internship, my first professional work experience with Pittsburgh brewing, so I worked with rnc beer there, right, right out of the gate.

Were you a taste tester?

It's funny, you know, we were actually paid $10 a day. We worked three days a week and we were paid yet a case of beer every month.


How'd you how'd you claim that on your taxes?

We may not have.

That's pretty cool. And only in Pittsburgh? You I think I know about Elizabeth is Lenny's VW back in the day, I would take my cars to him and he would fix them sometimes. Yeah. That's a good, that's a good, that's a good part of the town to be from. That's for sure. So very cool stuff, man. So tell us about my BFF social. First off, I love the name on this. What's the name all behind the MY BFF?

For sure. So BFF social really originated? as, as I was, you know, working in the real estate industry, too, as a simple explanation to try and explain the benefits of social media out as you know, BFF how do we help professionals understand what social media can do for you? Right? replace the the BFF with a business Friends Forever, right? So our goal is to is to help our clients build more business Friends Forever, my BFF social and having social in the name actually is, you know, also tactically important for for Google search and other search engines as well. So it actually helps us rank organically.

You got you got to actually to take your own medicine. Right. Got it. You got to take yourself. That's a great, great, great store there. I love it. Very, very cool. So can you give us like the quick overview like you give us the nickel tour of my work with our clients? Yeah, I mean, it's a long winding road, right. So I graduated, proud graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. And, you know, like many of my peers ended up leaving town to to find professional work. I ended up in Washington DC and I worked with a international strategic communications firm and I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to travel around and live and work in Europe in the Middle East for a bit and got to do some really fun work there. Then I my next step was down in Sarasota, Florida, which I'd love to be right now. Tell me about it. Come on, outside out there, right. I was on there for about 10 years, I worked with Arthur Andersen and Price Waterhouse Coopers and their tech marketing divisions. And then an opening came open for communications manager for the largest real estate company in the state of Florida. So I took that, you know, I bid on that. And then when I started working in the real estate industry, for the next 12 years, and it was right around that point when Facebook launched. And I really, you know, I was, I don't know, I'd hate to give them away my age, but I was probably around 30 at that time or so. And I was I never really looked at Facebook, as you know, the place to share my cat photos, I was much more looking at it. As you know, this is a really great channel to meet the consumer and put a commercial message out there. So I got together with the VP of training, we developed some of the first manuals for social media marketing for the industry. And we started, you know, turning on all of our managers and agents into promoting, you know, their listings and the business and recruiting and so forth. So really grew from there. And that, that drew the attention of rheology which was the parent company and still is the parent company. And they they do if you're not familiar they do about 26% of all real estate transactions in the United States are my Yeah, they Yeah, they own the brands of Sandra Nicole banker era Sotheby's Better Homes and Garden, Corcoran, you know, the list goes on. So I took over Social Media Communications for the century 21 brand. And that really opened up a lot of opportunity and experience to operate at a national brand level on an even at a global level. To some extent, you know, we we had the opportunity to, to do two Superbowl ad campaign so I managed to social media efforts for for two of those one of them featured recently, former president as well as Deion Sanders and Apolo Ohno. You can still see the ad, if you google search for Donald Trump and century 21 out there. Okay. I have to do that after that very interesting, especially in light of everything. But you know, we sponsor Olympic sports teams, we sponsored us men's and women's, men's national soccer team. So I mean, having an opportunity to work in New York as a media professional of any sort is kind of the pinnacle and, and really having the opportunity to work on Super Bowl campaigns was, you know, like, over the top. I mean, it's odd. That's like that. That's about as good as it gets when you're in your business, man.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So you know, for a PR guy, it was, it was exceptional, you know. So I did okay with my communications degree from Clarion. And I did end up getting a master's degree in organizational management, when I worked with Andersen. And, you know, after, I don't know, about eight years, I was kind of ready to come back home here to Pittsburgh and get a little closer to my parents as they grew older, and there's a lot of I meet people every day. Well, not not as much now, but the resume that it was. And I moved back home, and they've started their own company. So So I started my BFF social with an emphasis, you know, as is in the name, social media, marketing and advertising and, you know, tried to bring what I've learned and experienced, you know, at the, at the national level, here locally, and, and, and also, you know, the great thing about Pittsburgh is the cost of living here is just, it's just radically cheaper than some of the other places out there. Sure, that, you know, being a part of the tech that you're talking about, is, you know, spectacular. So I'm able to compete, you know, with the companies that I may have hired as a corporate guy, now I'm competing with them, and I understand, you know, what their pricing sheet is, versus what my pricing sheet is living here. So it's given us a, you know, a good entree, and then some strategic advantage in that respect as well. Definitely. Very cool. It's reminding our listeners in case you just tuned into tech five radio here, we are talking to Matt Gentilly. He's with my BFF social and so I want to know, like, Who's the typical client that you work with?

Is there a sweet spot that you guys have? Yeah, I mean, obviously, the real estate vertical in the finance space is big for us, just based on my background, but we also stretch out into the energy space. We worked with World Connect energy services. Some of our other clients included Lobos management here in Pittsburgh, it's a big apartment ownership group, and always distillery which is a distillery stretch lab, which is actually you know, I'm, I'm, I'm over 40. And this stretch lab company is an interesting concept where you go there and they basically stretch you, right? It's a franchise, and they think they stretch you out and it's kind of you know, I'm not the most Flexible guy. So, you know, it's an interesting concept. So, you know, while real estate and finance and that sort of thing is kind of our bailiwick, we also service to a variety got some cool companies like that as well too. That's cool. So how are you guys like are able to keep track with the ever changing pace of all things social blows my mind because I cannot like I just like, Ah, I'm like I just call you up with have a question, right? So like, I'm really curious if everyone's been really talking about how Apple's additional privacy controls are going to be impacting, like, like Facebook, and so forth. And it's gonna really change how you do your job, gave us a little a little insight on some of that, that that's going on right now and any other trends you're seeing out there that maybe we should be thinking about as we move forward into 2021? Yeah, absolutely. So the first part of your question, I guess, you know, we, we offer what I like to call tech light, in terms of marketing services, our expertise is really in creative development, digital marketing, ad platforms, and how to manage that that media spend on behalf of our clients. And we're in the mid range and we're not going to compete with the bounteous is of the world. So you know, there's often a lot of clients out there that understand they need to advertise. And they you know, they have a, you know, say it's a $5,000 a month media spend, they really can't find a competent media company that specializes in that level of spend, that, you know, there's a lot of companies that that are on the high end. So we're in that medium space, and work with a lot of clients, to help them get the most out of their, you know, social media, first with Facebook and Instagram, but also Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube. And we're also keeping a close eye on the advances being made in marketing automation, and an AI and bot development. And you know, whether or not we ought to grow in that as a core competency or develop a strategic alliance, it's really kind of not a settled matter yet, we're approaching that carefully, and will continue to study it as it evolves. And our clients continue to ask for services in that space. But in terms of the question about Apple and the privacy concerns coming out with Facebook ads, it's a it's really the question on everyone's mind, right. And the main element of Facebook advertising that's going to be affected is pixel tracking, specific to conversion events, right? So right, and I don't want to get too deep to your listeners. But in essence, Facebook offers three different ad objectives. And it's all based around standard marketing, brand awareness, preference, and lead conversion, right. So the lead conversion is going to be affected more than anything else. And there are some ways that you know, to get around it, specifically turning off, you know, the Apple iPhone as a as a mobile device targeting. And you know, but at the end of the day, I'm not shorting my Facebook stocks, I'm pretty sure market records gonna figure something out. Exactly.

What that's it's always so cool is the fact that someone always does figure something out, right? I mean, it's, we're human beings, and there's technology involved. So people are gonna find a solution to do something else, which is why your job is so important as you figure out what the other thing else is, and then you latch on to it. And it just keeps doing that. So I think that's so fascinating.

Yeah, it is. It's constantly evolving. And that's, you know, hey, that's good. That's good news for us.

Absolutely. It's got about a minute or so left, it goes by so fast. I'm thinking you must have a lot of good insight on your website. Yes, my white papers and fun things like that, where it kind of goes over some of these kind of Yeah, yeah, yeah. We have a ton of stuff, you can always visit us at my BFF social calm, okay, now we're happy to have conversations and get into the weeds. And I'd also like to mention our philanthropic efforts, please do.

Yeah, this one is really important to you tell somebody?

Yeah, we are the sole philanthropic partner for our agency with 412 Food Rescue. And you may know Leah Lizarondo and her team, they do event love her, she's the best.

Yeah. And it's, you know, it's a personal thing with me being a child of the 70s and 80s, I lived through some of those longer US Steel strikes. So scarcity is a you know, especially now with a pandemic, it's a real thing. So I, you know, I hope people will look into contributing or volunteering because that's a great organization. And we also work as a client also an advocate for an organization called LGBTQ plus real estate Alliance, which is an organization and they're out there and they're advocating on behalf of homeownership and getting rid of housing discrimination. So really a fantastic brings a real estate you know, strongly recommend you go out there dynamic organization where community members you know, can meet and and find allies in various industries.

Great stuff, man I What a great story so much fun talking today matters. Like we need to have you back on the show to go over more stuff because a it's going to change again and we're gonna need more tips about the latest things going on in social and you guys are always picking up new clients and have new things to tell. So we're gonna have you come back on very soon. Just love what you guys are up to. Once again, go to my BFF check the site out you can learn a lot out there and get in touch with Matt, if you have questions, he's there. He's ready to answer them. Simple as that. Thanks for being part of tech phi radio. Hey, we're taking a quick break. We're coming back with more tech live radio. This is Jonathan Kersting. I'm with the Pittsburgh Technology Council. You can learn more about us by going to PGH Hang tight. I'll be right back after this quick break.

I promised we'd be back and we are back that is for sure. This is Jonathan Kersting with the Pittsburgh Technology Council and we're missing one Audrey Russo today my co host and boss, the CEO of the Pittsburgh tech Council. She's a little under the weather. So I told her as I mentioned earlier in the show, I have full command of the tech vibe radio jet. We are fully flying at 30,000 plus feet right now. So that means you can relax move about the cabin, do all the fun stuff. Because we've got a great story coming up right now. We have with us Josh Pribanic of LastLine Cyber just started this thing up recently, and he's really getting some traction out there. And just so excited to learn more about your story. Josh, you know, joining us here on the tech five jetliner today I'm having a good time. Like I'm a captain, I'm a pilot of some sort. So on this whole theme of you know, flying I guess the pressure in the cabins comfortable temperatures not too cold right now, you know, you haven't had to adjust the little air conditioner things above my seat. I'm feeling pretty good about you. So whenever I was back on a plane back, they would actually like new beyond planes and stuff, right? I'm always too shy to like, adjust those things. Because I feel like I'm gonna, like disturb the person like next to you.

Because somehow their comfort is more important than my comfort. So yeah, it's just the way I roll.

Same thing with the elbow wrist on the seat. Oh, you never know what to do in the middle Dude, it's like you get Oh, yeah, I digress. But anyhow, that's about that. I want to hear about your story, man. What's your background real fast, Josh? And what made you decide to like I'm gonna actually like, found a company with my brother?

Sure. that's a that's a great question. And it's kind of an interesting story, how we ended up here and decided to start in such a weird time with a pandemic and also a great time. So I just figured I figured take advantage of it, you know, and just a short. Whenever I was in grad school, I got my I went to Duquesne University for my undergrad and graduate degree. I was in school for Information Systems Management. And I was working for a local family office in their IT group. And it was actually during time whenever they were implementing cybersecurity strategy. So the all the different things that go along with that, right, your security policies, things like getting two factor authentication, set up, password policies, all that good stuff. And so I got a first row seat to seeing all that happen. And then all the technical stuff that happens on the back end is right, that happens. It's not so simple to do that.

Yeah. Yeah. So so during the time being still in grad school, you know, a huge focus of the program, thankfully, at that point was information security. And so, immediately, I was like, I was hooked. And that was a good decent chunk of my job. I did other things. For the three years that I worked, my first job. And then I took I took a break from the tech world for about a year and a half because and last time we spoke Actually, I was staffing manager for a finance and accounting staffing firm, and I really wanted to get that experience of being out there in front of clients working and providing solutions. But I was really I was definitely missing that. That technical.

You had that?

Yeah, I did. I did. And I was seeing things happening in the world. And we're seeing the news of all the different cybersecurity breaches information security breaches, I should say. So my brother and I started talking. And we were like, you know, between the two of us, we can really provide some value into you know, I have a small business background of developing best in class, helping develop best in class cybersecurity solutions. He has the fortune 500. Big, big business background. And so we said, well, what can we provide to our clients came down to, you know, initially, we just started like, Well, why don't we do cybersecurity training and just made customized cybersecurity training? And then it just started like growing? Well, hey, you know, I've been reading a lot about these different frameworks that we could help organizations implement and whatnot, and it just grew. And now we have awareness programs, which is essentially internal marketing to get people busy. or thinking about cybersecurity, the actual training, customized programs giving people the, hey, I don't have to do this training, because someone's just saying, I have to do it. It's like, no, this is part of my job. Giving them a reason. Yeah. So so we're, and then it just grew from there risk assessments, understanding risk ratings, and and making a cybersecurity strategy focused on addressing the main risks, cyber risks that are facing the business to maturity analysis, in terms of how mature is the organization, how well are they defending themselves against information, security threats? And then and then things like, you know, policy development, we said, but let's do it. Let's help people out. Let's get these smaller, mid sized companies protected.

So you make this decision, like, yeah, we're gonna do so in a very short amount of time. It's like, well, I'm ditching what I was doing here, because I'm going to pursue this real passion of mine. So that's a pretty bold move, man. Like, I'm in business with your brother as well, too. I mean, that's cool, but also have its challenges. I'm sure it does. You know, especially for him, you know, God bless him. He works full time. And he, so we're meeting over lunch, we meet after work all the time, and throughout the weekend, so he never stops. I never stopped. It's that really exciting startup mentality, though, but you just have to be hungry. Yeah, you gotta be going out and just doing it. Thankfully, my family is so supportive. My wife's incredible. I come from a family of with entrepreneurial backgrounds, and so they're there with it. 100% know what's going on? Oh, yeah, yeah. So to do this, right, exactly. And all that, like little stuff that comes up where you're like, well, we need to incorporate what sort of what kind of legal structure Do we have to have? And it's just like, well, I go to them, they've done it before. And, you know, all those all those little things that are tough to start a business, I've learned so much in a very short period of time. So yeah, between course, man, yeah, it was a crash course. I mean, between July and when we actually, when I whenever I left, my, my full time position started this up to October, we just had it rockin and rollin. I love it. So so last line, cyber. So so give us some just the quick elevator pitch. So like, like, obviously, your your core services and really your sweet spot for your for your customer base, right, I think, you know, small, small businesses and foundations, who maybe don't have the resources in house to even develop a cyber strategy, you might just have the basics or might not have the basics. You know, it's a great kind of company for us to come in and say, let's get you started. Let's get you let's get some best practices implemented, let's get your policies written and updated. If you don't have the technology in place to defend your business, let's get all that email security filtering, firewalls. And then for midsize companies, you know, upwards of three 400 employees, I'd say that maybe need more advanced services, if they're trying to streamline and optimize a cybersecurity strategy. And they want to align it to best practice like ISO 27001, which is a it's just a best in class framework developed by cybersecurity experts to manage sustainably a cybersecurity program within those organizations or something like penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, maybe they have some external web apps that they want to test. We have capabilities to provide services so that they can do that. So anywhere between though it's a little bit of a wider range, but we've already seen some success, really early on, which is really exciting and showing these and helping organizations build a build or optimize a cybersecurity strategy. And out of that, you know, comes other things, well, hey, we we also have a need for cybersecurity training. And that's what we provide as well. And in our training, and I did want to definitely speak to this, our training is a little bit different than the you know, no before or no proof point. Those are great services that a lot of big organizations utilize and certainly not not bad mouthing them at all. But our our our approach is very customized and personalized. And so we try to incorporate the business strategy of the organization, its culture, current things that are going on change is a big thing you mentioned because yeah, they cybersecurity has to be part of a company's culture, right?

That's correct. Yeah. And that's the most difficult point to address. So you can you can say that you customized training by slapping a logo on it, right and then just sending out a learning management system classes and models, but If you're not, if you're not at the level of the employee, if you're not speaking their language, if you're not tying it back to the things that are actually important for them, right, do their jobs like, Hey, your your mission and vision dictates that, you know, you achieve these certain outcomes in your day to day. And in order to do that you have to be thinking about information security, during your job, like all the time, because it takes one instance. I mean, I, if you look at the recent Tampa, the water treatment hack, or someone who was on water, Lord, man, that's just nuts. Yeah, the scary thing about that is it's because they were running outdated machines running Windows seven, and they were sharing passwords.

So a recipe for disaster as we saw.

Exactly, and that's all well and good if you don't get hacked, but the question is no longer. Like, if we get hacked, it's like when and how it's when it's gonna happen. You've probably heard people talk about that before in the show. But there's, there's 1000s of organizations like that, that have that that are ripe for attack. And we want we truly, like, we truly want to help these organizations protect themselves, both from external threats, like we saw with Tampa, and with Tampa Water Supply Company, water treatment plan, and internal threats as well. Like what's stopping a disgruntled employee from completely taking down a network or completely taking down an application because they got fired? Or something like that? Absolutely. So that's what we're talking to Josh Pribanic from LastLine Cyber s got a few minutes left, the conversation goes by so quickly, it does. So excited you started this company, I think it's just fantastic. You came together with a brother to offer these important solutions, when I got to know is like the world of cyber just changes every second, and you got to stay on top of that, how do you stay on top of the latest threats that are going on out there and the strategies to combat them, you have to read a lot, you have to read a lot. You have to constantly be out there in the in the pulse and be open to new ideas. And just because you thought this was a best practice one day, I mean, that might change. There's new information coming out all the time. And it's being really confident in understanding those, you know, those frameworks and how to build a program, for example, when we're, you know, working with a company, a good entry point, is to just say, Hey, where are our biggest needs? And why are they? Why are those our needs? Not? You know, we want to implement a cybersecurity. We want to implement a cybersecurity strategy. And, you know, this is what we think we should do, what's we address? No, why do you think that you should do that. And then we tie all of that into what's relevant to the company, what are the main risks that are that you're facing then because of your industry, because of the size of the company, the culture, your your technology stack. And so if you really apply and have that, you know, it's a big part of that good old fashioned consultation, let's just talk through these problems. Let's have a relationship and just work through these and keep in mind, keep a pulse on everything. And then you can say, here's your, here's your solution. Here's the things that we're addressing with this set with this strategy with this program with his training with this assessment. And you're not going to be you're not going to end up like the water treatment plant and poisoning the people of your absolutely community.

So if people don't get in touch with you because they wanted they wanted to learn more about your services, what's the best way for them to get a hold? Yeah, sure. A great way to reach to find us is on our website, www dot last line, cyber comm or find me on LinkedIn, Josh carbanak lastline cyber, I love connecting with people and love to talk to any of the listeners right now. And even if it's just a conversation about the weather, it's all about Yeah, absolutely just thank you for being part of the show today. Thank you just love that you and your brother are up to so that I've got to tell a little smidge of your show here on tech five radio but the plane is like approaching the airport with Atlantis jet and I will no longer make any more references to fly in tech lab radio at the same time.

It will be a smooth landing.

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