While Carlo Brayda was trained as a software engineer with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) orientation, he quickly realized that he enjoyed people more than programming.
“I had this idea that it would be nice to have a marketing company, even though I didn’t really know what that was,” Brayda says.
A postgraduate course at the Chartered Institute of Marketing in London gave him a good idea of what he’d be getting into, and that led him to start his first company, Advanced Alchemy, in 1992. He served clients such as IBM, Microsoft, Sony, and Samsung and decided to sell the agency in 2003.
“I decided to do something totally different with my life and I went to work in Ethiopia as a humanitarian,” he says.
Brayda has deep family ties to Ethiopia: his mother was connected to the emperor Haile Selassie and much of that side of his family was exiled, imprisoned, or executed when the emperor was dethroned in a military coup in 1974.
“I always had this notion that when I made my money, I’d go back and try to fix the country,” says Brayda. So when he sold Advanced Alchemy, he went to Ethiopia and created a non-profit that was dedicated to poverty alleviation by enabling women to become successful entrepreneurs. “I did what I could but eventually I decided to move on because politically things were not looking so friendly,” he says.
Returning to his marketing roots, Brayda decided in 2010 to launch another agency called Gorilla (“Advanced Alchemy 2.0”), a global firm that builds and provides technology to help small and large companies manage sales channels and partnerships.
“We help companies identify the right strategy and have the right relationships with distributors, wholesalers, and managed solutions providers across the U.S. and other regions,” Brayda says.
In 2021, Gorilla acquired a SaaS company that expanded its offering to include a software product that enables users to manage reseller relationships from an SaaS portal.
Over the past several years, Gorilla has grown to 75 employees and its client base has evolved to include a large number of cybersecurity vendors, such as CheckPoint, Cisco, and many startups.
While he was growing his company, Brayda was also working with the World Economic Forum as a special constituent member, working on initiatives that involved Africa. That included discussions on tech innovation and cybersecurity. The confluence of his WEF experience and his client work in cybersecurity led Brayda to begin thinking about the issue more deeply.
“When I came to the U.S. twelve years ago, I felt there was a lot of room to maneuver in terms of creating a stronger cybersecurity infrastructure through public private partnerships,” Brayda says.
So in 2020, he founded the Tortora Brayda Institute, a nonprofit think tank that brings together private and public sector leaders to take on hot topics like how to prevent ransomware and how to prevent critical infrastructure attacks.
“I think that the cybersecurity strategies of the United States and other NATO countries could benefit from a better tactical partnership implementation,” Brayda says, adding that the institute has attracted participation from senior military, counterterrorism, GAO, FBI, United Nations, and industry leaders.
The Institute includes the National AI and Cybersecurity ISAO. And, within its capabilities, it is “assembling unparalleled tools for dark web scanning” to get advance knowledge of planned cyberattacks. For instance, the Institute can unearth information that can help detect planned cyberattack plots from the dark web on critical infrastructure and the commercial sector.
While Brayda currently splits his time between Gorilla and Tortora Brayda Institute, he is planning to step down as chief executivce from his company this year and devote an increasing amount of his time to his nonprofit.
“I think (Forbes Technology Council) acts as an amplifier,” says Brayda. “It helps me build my credibility and my persona and makes me want to research topics more deeply.”
He points out that the primary benefit is “having a network of competent people who are interested in the same things that I’m interested in.”
As member leader of Forbes Technology Council cybersecurity group, Brayda taps his fellow members for feedback on a variety of topics. “I bring up some really interesting thought leadership topics and have some guest speakers to create some really exciting discussion points,” he says. “I can test these discussion points within Forbes Councils and then bring them back to the Institute.”
Article adapted from Forbes Councils, an invitation-only organization where top executives and entrepreneurs build professional skills and gain connections and visibility on Forbes.com