Growing up, Chris Burns was bullied nonstop.
With no one to help him, name-calling and having his head slammed in lockers was a regular occurrence.
To make matters worse, when he returned home from school, he’d experience more of the same or worse. “I was told I was never going to be anything,” Chris recalled. “I heard this my entire childhood. The stuff I went through, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”
So, when Chris discovered computers at age 11, it became a way to escape his torturers.
“My friend’s dad had a computer and we played games on it,” Chris said. “I went home and begged my parents to get me one.” But when he finally convinced his parents to buy a computer for him, it wasn’t the one he wanted. “The only reason I wanted a computer was to play games on it,” Chris said. “It didn’t have enough RAM or a math coprocessor so the games wouldn’t play right.”
Unable to afford the $200 to buy extra RAM (random access memory), the resourceful 12-year-old did research at school and figured out how to reconfigure his computer to get enough memory to play games.
“After that I spent all my spare time tinkering with my computer, figuring out how it worked, what it could do, and how I could make it work better,” Chris said.
By the time Chris was 15 years old, he was fixing computers at the school before Google existed and when no one else knew how. Which is why when a teacher witnessed Chris fixing one of the high school computers he was surprised and impressed. “Mr. Grabowski was the treasurer for his township, and he was having computer problems,” Chris said. “When he saw what I did, he asked if I could help him. He was my first paying customer and my first foray into the computer business. More importantly, it was the one thing that brought me relief, and the first time I remember someone expressing gratitude rather than disappointment. Still to this day, seeing the appreciation on someone’s face when I help them gives me more joy than anything else.”
No computer classes were being taught in college, so after graduating high school, Chris went to work for a cable company troubleshooting Internet problems. Here he developed his customer service skills. “I excelled at explaining complex things in a simple way people could understand without being condescending,” Chris said.
In 2004, Chris moved to the metro Detroit area to take his first job at a computer consulting company. Starting at the help desk, he was promoted within six months, going into the field fixing computers and doing project work for small and medium-sized businesses.
By 2005, Chris was traveling all over the United States doing cybersecurity work and deploying Symantec services for companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and even the US Office of Naval Intelligence. Wanting to get back to helping small and medium-sized businesses, Chris took a new consulting job in Detroit.
But after Chris caught the company overcharging customers, he quit. “People were noting billable hours that were three to four times what they actually worked,” Chris said. “When I reported it to management, I discovered they approved of the dishonest practice.”
Next, he began doing enterprise work for healthcare providers. “I became a Citrix architect deploying solutions for hospitals to host their information and servers so they could remotely connect from their hospital or outpatient centers from that one location,” Chris said. “This was before the cloud existed.”
But once again, Chris observed behaviors he could not condone.
“I continually saw companies being overcharged,” Chris said. “But I also saw that companies weren’t training employees, which meant customers weren’t being taken care of properly. Companies were doing minimal work and charging outrageous fees.”
In 2008, fed up with the service and ethics problems he observed, Chris launched Techie Gurus servicing small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the metro Detroit area.
“SMBs experience tremendous risk,” Chris said. “My whole goal was to take the methodologies and technologies of big business and put them into the small business world at fair pricing so I could protect them.”
Today, Techie Gurus is the most trusted, fastest-growing Cybersecurity and Managed IT services company in Metro Detroit servicing SMBs. Their Cybersecurity first approach and focus on protecting small business owners has fueled explosive growth. They’ve doubled in the last three years alone and expanded into other states across the nation. With Chris’ 16-year track-record of successfully delivering security-focused cloud solutions, their customers have added multiple sites, expanded to other states, and quadrupled their business.
Why A Security-First Approach Is Critical
Chris’ primary focus is Cybersecurity. “Small and medium-sized businesses don’t have a million dollars to throw at a problem,” Chris explained. “But small businesses are given the bad advice that firewalls and antivirus will protect them, when that is not true. Then when they are attacked by ransomware and cyberbullies threaten to leak their data, they face huge expenses that can cause them to lose everything.”
None of Techie Gurus clients have ever lost data. And since Chris changed to a proactive Cybersecurity approach 2.5 years ago, not one client has received ransomware. “Cybersecurity is NOT a bolt-on service for us,” Chris said. “We bring SMBs risk to as close to zero as possible inside a financially viable framework. We focus on detection because if you can’t detect something, you can’t protect it. We can now quickly detect when somebody is in your company or when somebody is trying to attack you. This radical change has made a difference to our clients.”
Customized tools and 365/24/7 monitoring along with Chris’ dedication to constantly improve protection is what draws people to Techie Gurus. Chris is currently working to become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), the world’s most renowned cybersecurity certification. A recognized expert, his new book Exposing The Hacker Playbook will be out in late 2020.
“This is a never-ending fight,” Chris said. “I’m at the forefront of cybersecurity and always looking at what’s next. And because most of it is tied to enterprise, I figure out how to equate solutions to small business, which has significantly reduced their risk profile.”
Protecting Even The Smallest Businesses
Chris is also in the development phase to roll out a new Cybersecurity protection program for the deeply underserved micro-business community.
“A lot of small business owners think they are too small for cybersecurity,” Chris said. “My response is ‘You’re too small NOT to have cybersecurity protection.’ Every business owner needs cybersecurity done right by professionals. We plan to make that happen for small businesses, regardless of their revenue.”
The Secret Sauce: Integrity And Extreme Attention
Chris receives high compliments from clients. One CEO client said, “I’ve worked in large enterprises and I’ve never seen a company deliver IT like you do. I’ve never in my life seen a company be that attentive to what we need.”
Chris attributes this to aligning with client goals. “I want to know where clients want to be in five years so I can help them get there,” Chris said. “One of our clients was at $10 million in revenue and wanted to double revenue. We helped them get to $60 million in four years.”
His unique billing system guarantees there are never any surprises and no hidden costs. “We are truly flat rate IT,” Chris said. “It’s important that our business is an extension of theirs.”
A Mission That Extends To Protecting The Community At Large
Chris’s passion to protect others extends beyond business. He contributes heavily to multiple charities based on pet rescues, children, and soldiers. He’s also working with a nonprofit suicide prevention center for teens. “We plan to bring my guys into the center to run classes and build computers with the teens,” Chris said.
In sharp contrast to his young life, Chris reflected: “My childhood was painful, but it made me who I am. I don’t want to see somebody lose their business when they’ve worked so hard to build it, just because of a mistake or a cyberbully. And if I can protect them, remove a heavy burden, and help them reach their goals, it was worth it.”