We’ve probably all heard about the six degrees of separation, or as it’s more commonly referred to: the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Think about it in terms of networking. You know someone who introduces you to someone else, who makes the connection to another colleague, and so on. That web of networking is all built by relationships.

This web of networking isn’t quite the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but Carl Kenney and Ian Garrett met AMSG’s own Jim O’Farrell because of a mutual connection through Joe Quinn. That connection led to a bet, and Ian and Carl are now the proud owners of Tecovas Boots.

While attending West Point, Carl had a professor by the name of Joe Quinn. After graduation in 2013, Carl maintained contact with his professor. Ian and Carl founded data security Phalanx in 2021, along with Austin Garrett. Phalanx focuses on securing data by solving the biggest issue in data security — human error.

“The way we fit into the cybersecurity world is we focus on letting security teams and leaders see where in the world people are accessing their data to give them proactive ways to protect it. The key is we provide an automatic way to protect that data, so employees never have to choose between security and productivity,” says Ian. “We wanted to build security around the human experience instead of the traditional way of forcing down security controls.”

Soon after launching Phalanx, Carl learned that Joe was also running a startup business. Joe was involved with Bunker Labs’ CEOcircle, which is where he was acquainted with Jim O’Farrell.

“Joe said, ‘Hey, I know a guy down in the D.C. area … that works in the government contracting space and is someone that you should definitely meet. And by the way, he’s also an Academy grad,”” Carl recalls.

Initially meeting virtually, the three planned to have lunch at a later date, but as the Army-Navy Game was approaching, a bet ensued at the end of that first conversation.

The bet was that the losing service academy’s alum would have to have to give the winning side’s alumni a gift that meant a lot to them related to their service or time at the academy. Though the exact prizes weren’t decided on the call, the bet was set.

Carl and Ian weren’t sure what they would pony up if the Army lost, but lucky for them, in a thrilling overtime matchup, the Black Knights were victorious over the Midshipmen.

Still not having met Jim in person, Ian and Carl attended an Academy networking event in Northern Virginia, and as luck would have it, unbeknownst to them, Jim was also in attendance. Jim shared with the crowd about their Army-Navy bet and shared that as the losing side, he would be gifting the West Point grads each a pair of Tecovas Boots, which was also a story of the power of networking.

“Jim has been an important part of our journey since we’ve met him … he’s also made a whole slew of introductions for us, whether they be investors, or other people in the government services and defense contracting space,” says Carl.

Ian and Carl are now the proud owners of Tecovas Boots and say that the boots have made them feel empowered.

“A lot of times when we have networking events and stuff, I’ll throw the boots on … We were down in Texas doing this Veteran’s thing at Rice University. We’re standing tall in our boots. We were very confident in our pitch, but there was that extra with the boots. They’re definitely our lucky boots,” says Carl.

As the 2023 Army-Navy game approaches, you might be wondering, is there another bet on the table?

“Feels like we have to,” says Ian.

Time will tell!

This year, the Midshipmen take on the Black Knights in Philadelphia, neutral turf for both teams. Whoever wins, it’s safe to say, that there will likely be even more networking in the future, and the web will go even further.

By: Sheila Rupp, AMSGazette Contributor and Editor