Andreas engages in an informative conversation with Arnout Van de Meulebroucke, the CTO and founder of Phished. Phished stands out by automating cybersecurity awareness training through a comprehensive approach that extends beyond mere phishing simulations. With an impressive 98.9% customer satisfaction rate...

In this compelling podcast episode, Arnout delves into his remarkable journey from CEO to CTO and candidly shares a gripping company-related story.

Reading tip: The Fractional CTO explained

Surviving a Sudden Vendor Change: A Conversation with Arnout Van den Meulebroucke, Founder of Phished


In today's episode of Pulse, our monthly podcast, we sit down with Arnout Van den Meulebroucke, the founder of Phished, a European market leader in cybersecurity and cyber awareness training. Arnout shares the incredible journey of transitioning from being a solo founder to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and navigating a challenging situation when their primary vendor abruptly terminated their services with just a 30-day notice. Join us as we delve into this gripping story's details and how Phished overcame this unexpected obstacle.

Meet Arnout Van den Meulebroucke

Arnout, hailing from Aalst, Belgium, and currently residing in Leuven, is the visionary behind Phished. Founded in 2018, Phished aims to enhance cybersecurity by training employees to become cyber-aware through real phishing simulations and the Phished Academy.

The Journey from CEO to CTO

Arnout's journey with Phished began as a one-man show, where he took on multiple roles, including CEO, CTO, and even sales. As the company evolved and grew, Arnout realized that wearing all these hats was no longer sustainable or beneficial to the business. He describes the transition from CEO to CTO as a necessary step in Phished's growth. This shift allowed him to focus on his true passion – technology and development.

Phished's pivotal moment came when their primary vendor abruptly terminated their services, giving them only a 30-day notice. This unexpected turn of events left Arnout and his team in a state of shock. Despite being a significant customer, they received little explanation and were left with no choice but to find an alternative solution.

Phished attempted to engage their vendor in a conversation to explore possibilities of continued collaboration or an extended notice period. However, the vendor remained firm in their decision. The reason was that their providers complained about Phished's phishing simulations, citing harm to their reputation. Arnout found this reasoning dubious, as competitors still used the same vendor.

The Search for a New Provider

With time running out, Phished swiftly embarked on the challenging task of finding a new email service provider. They evaluated multiple options, focusing on providers who understood their unique needs. The search led them to Mailgun, which met their requirements and provided the flexibility they needed during the transition.

Technical Challenges

The technical aspect of transitioning to a new email service provider was complex. Phished had to adapt their platform, change code, and reconfigure their email infrastructure. They also needed to educate their clients on the necessary whitelisting changes to ensure a smooth transition. This involved a meticulous IP warm-up process to maintain email deliverability.

The Road Ahead

Phished is now in a more secure position with a provider that supports their needs and has agreed to terms that safeguard their services. They also plan to set up their own email infrastructure for added redundancy.


Arnout's journey from CEO to CTO and Phished's ordeal with their vendor termination highlight the challenges and opportunities that startups face. It's a story of resilience, adaptability, and finding solutions in the face of adversity. Phished's commitment to cybersecurity awareness remains unwavering, and their experience is a valuable lesson for others in the industry.

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