This week’s guest blog post is by Qlarion. Qlarion helps the public sector use BI to effectively manage, access and understand information in order to make more effective business decisions. In their blog, Qlarion provides a wrap-up of NVTC’s Big Data and Analytics Committee Meeting that took place in March.


QlarionOn March 7, Qlarion’s CEO, Jake Bittner, moderated a discussion at Northern Virginia Technology Council’s (NVTC) Big Data and Analytics Committee Meeting, where Anthony (Tony) Fung, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Technology; Ernie Steidle, COO/CIO, Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services; and Anthony Wood, Program Manager, Virginia Information Technologies Agency’s Innovation Center of Excellence, shared thoughts on the challenges and opportunities related to big data and analytics in Virginia.

Deputy Secretary of Technology Tony Fung kicked off the event with a discussion of the landscape of data analytics across the Commonwealth. Deputy Secretary Fung emphasized that there have been individual analytics success stories among several state agencies and the opportunity for real progress through analytics has never been better.

Virginia now has the resources in place to implement big data and analytics programs on a large scale.

In 2016, Governor McAuliffe issued Executive Directive 7, which mandates data sharing across state agencies. Deputy Secretary Fung announced that a final report, which will provide agencies with more detail about how to comply with the directive, will be released in a few weeks.

Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services’ Ernie Steidle reported that, in addition to the executive directive, the state legislature recently passed HB 2457, which enables data sharing across Health and Human Resources agencies. The law dictates that all HHR agencies and departments, for the purpose of data sharing, be considered a single organization. Eliminating barriers between the agencies will increase efficiency and streamline services for constituents. Based on the results of the initiative, other agency groups, such as Public Safety, could adapt the same model.

The state has solidified its commitment to modernizing its technology programs by forming the Virginia Information Technologies Agency’s Innovation Center of Excellence (VITA ICE). Virginia Information Technologies Agency’s Innovation Center of Excellence’s Anthony Wood explained that VITA ICE’s primary goal is to evaluate and implement new technologies by leveraging the capabilities of Virginia’s technology companies. It’s developed a number of resources to establish relationships with Virginia tech companies.

State leadership is also intent on securing internal buy-in and educating government decision makers on the value of big data and analytics. The upcoming Governor’s Data Analytics Summit, an event exclusively for state and local government employees, will feature a lineup of speakers and panelists who will discuss how agencies can overcome challenges and achieve their goals through analytics. The event will offer actionable strategies for scoping and launching analytics projects.

This blog post originally appeared on Qlarion’s website.

Click here to learn more about the Big Data and Analytics Committee.

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On Feb. 22, the NVTC International Committee held a reception for Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to the United States of America and to the United Mexican States Rolandas Kriščiūnas. The meeting also included Eric Stewart, president, American Lithuanian Business Council, and Jeff Nelson, Honorary Consul, Lithuania.

The event featured introductory remarks from NVTC President and CEO Bobbie Kilberg, keen insights into the growth and reasons to invest in the Lithuanian technology industry by Ambassador Kriščiūnas, and a unique case study perspective from CSC’s Christopher Flaesch.

The International Committee will host its annual year-end gala in June at MITRE. Stay tuned for more details on NVTC’s website!

Photos from the meeting:

Feb 2 Event 3 Feb 22 Event 1 Feb 22 event 6 Feb 22 event 5

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This week’s guest blog post is by Norm Snyder, partner at Aronson, LLC. Snyder is also chair of NVTC’s Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee. Snyder shares highlights and lessons learned from the Committee’s recent Lean Startup panel.


Small Biz Committee LogoCurious about Lean Startup? What it really means and why the D.C. tech community is talking about it?

Lean is a disruptive way of thinking that can shorten cycles for developing products, business startups and help ensure entrepreneurial success. Late last month, the Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee explored Lean Startup methodology with an expert panel led by Bob Smith, director of the George Mason University Small Business Development Center, serial entrepreneur, and venture and angel investor. The panel also included experienced Lean Startup entrepreneur practitioners Steph Hay from Capital One, Abhishek Motayed from N5 Sensors, Patrick Smith from Power Supply and B.J. Wiley Williams from Sohooked.

Bob Smith started with an overview of the Lean Startup methodology. Lean methodology stems from the father of the “Customer Discovery Method,” Steve Blank, Alexander Osterwalder, who invented the “Business Model Canvas,” and the work of Eric Ries, author of the widely read book The Lean Startup. According to Smith, the number one startup mistake is building something nobody wants; therefore, more startups flounder from a lack of customers than from product or technology failures. Do companies build product(s) that no one wants? Of course, we have all seen it.

Smith used the example of Segway, which spent over $100 million developing its personal transporter. Segway expected to sell 10,000 Segways per week by the end of 2002. According to Forbes, Segway sold 30,000 total units by 2008. What was supposed to become the mainstay of urban commuting is predominately used by mall security guards and tour groups. Segway’s failure wasn’t technical – they failed to solve a real world problem.

As discussed, Lean teaches us that startups are not smaller versions of larger companies. A good product, business plan, financial model and market research do not guarantee success. It’s easy to build a sound technical product and a financial model with the necessary hockey stick revenue/EBITDA chart. According to Smith, “No business plan survives first contact with customers.” Everyone has a plan… until they get punched in the face! So what’s an entrepreneur to do? Get out of the building! Realize the idea is only the starting point. A business model is how a company creates, delivers and captures value.

In other words, a business model is how a company makes money! Smith’s tool of choice is the Business Model Canvas. Discovering the “value propositions” is the center of the Canvas. The goal is to find the right solution to the right customer problem with strong enough demand to warrant launching a business. Who is the customer? What problem do they want solved? What value do they derive from the solution? Customer discovery is not an exact science. It is an iterative process of evaluating guesses. Get out there and interview potential customers, perhaps 100 to 200 people. Engage in a love story with your potential customers. Look for patterns and apply judgment when validating or invalidating your hypotheses. Refine, pivot, repeat as needed until you have uncovered the value. Keep focused on the benefits customers derive from the product. Remember value propositions or benefits are NOT the same as product features. Use this process to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) and not a product with all of the cool features possible. For an MVP, who is the customer? What is the specific problem the MVP addresses? How does it add value or help customers that will result in making money from selling the product?

After his helpful overview, Smith led the panel in a discussion with the following questions.

  1. How has your organization used Lean Startup? Why did this method work?
  2. What was the best and worst customer hypothesis you ever wrote?
  3. What are some best practices in customer discovery you recommend?
  4. What is the hardest interview you have conducted? What did you learn from it?

Among others, panelists shared these insights. In value proposition testing interviews, watch for body language shifts. For example, in their testing, a bank learned that moms hated touching ATMs by watching them. Radical specificity is your friend in conducting interviews. Meeting customers helps validate (or invalidate) the channel. Ask for forgiveness, not permission, in getting the difficult interviews. Be creative in getting customer interviews. A story was told about one entrepreneur getting multiple flu shots in order to secure interviews with medical professionals they wanted to talk to. Solve the market problem before you focus on the technical product development. Make sure you speak to the right customers, including those who have the power and ability to buy. The Lean Startup process allows the entrepreneur to be free to fail since you will be continuously innovating in response to customer feedback.

Remember, the customer is first, not the product. Constant innovation leads to entrepreneurial success.

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This week’s guest blog post is by Norm Snyder, partner at Aronson, LLC. Snyder is also chair of NVTC’s Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee. Snyder shares highlights and lessons learned from the Committee’s All Star Seed/Early Stage Investor Panel that took place on Nov. 15.

aronson-llc1 v2Can seed, early stage and angel investment capital be found in the D.C. metro area? This question and others were discussed by NVTC’s Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee’s engaging All Star Seed/Early Stage Investor Panel on Nov. 15, with some of the area’s most active early stage investors.

Moderated by Aronson Partner Norm Snyder, the panelists included Ed Barrientos, “super-angel” investor and entrepreneur CEO of Brazen, Steve Graubart, CFO of 1776, John May, founding partner of New Dominion Angels, Liz Sara, angel investor and entrepreneur and chair of the Dingman Center, and Tom Weithman, managing director of CIT GAP Funds and CIO of Mach37.

During the event, panelists discussed their recent experiences, desired investee profiles and offered practical advice to an audience of start-up entrepreneurs engaged in navigating the challenging early stage investment world. While the general consensus is that early stage capital is available in the D.C. metro area, it takes persistence and hard work for entrepreneurs to successfully attract sufficient investment from the right investors.

According to Weithman, over 100 companies have been funded in Virginia by CIT with a focus on tech, fin-tech, cyber and life sciences. However, he stated there is a dearth of seed funds generally available for cyber. Sara stated that approximately 15 deals were funded in the last year by her Dingman Angel group. Barrientos has made significant angel investments in a number of companies and has raised venture capital funds for Brazen. May stated that almost every deal that should be funded is funded, but it is rare for one angel to fund the entire deal. Graubart said 1776 has made 30 investments to-date with a focus on regulated industries such as ed-tech, health IT, fintech, smart cities and transportation.

So how does an investor stand out in the crowd of early stage companies?

Panelists offered a range of suggestions. Research potential investors – plenty of information is available to find out what they are interested in. Don’t waste your time and theirs chasing investors not interested in your company’s profile. For early stage, investors are betting first on the entrepreneur and their team and not on a single idea or concept, which is likely to evolve several times before it goes to market. Put together a passionate team with strong domain experience and the ability to sell themselves to attract investors, customers and future team members. Remember, the team should include an experienced advisory board with strengths and experiences that compliment and extend the abilities of the entrepreneurs. Put together well thought out and concise pitches and applications.

Be persistent – get in front of groups of investors. Warm referrals tend to get looked at first, so use your advisors to help you get noticed and invest time building relationships. Be able to demonstrate market acceptance and traction. Be coachable; you may be the “master” of your technology, but each successful start-up faces different challenges and there’s a lot to learn. Early stage entrepreneurs shouldn’t focus on trying to get the “highest” valuation – high valuations can scare away very qualified investors and may lead to future disastrous down rounds. Convertible debt, instead of preferred stock, can help take the focus off the subjective valuation issue for early stage companies.

Most importantly, the closing advice to attendees: be passionate and persistent and make sure you enjoy what you do!

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Here on the NVTC blog, we continue to share content from our inaugural Capital Cybersecurity Summit that took place on Nov. 2-3, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

1021Capital Cybersecurity Summit Logo 3The 2016 Capital Cybersecurity Summit was highlighted by its keynote speakers:  Northrop Grumman Corporate Vice President and Northrop Grumman Mission Systems President Kathy Warden and RSA President Amit Yoran.

In her keynote, Warden discussed the evolution of cybersecurity as the “Fifth Domain,” a fundamental element, permeating all aspects of our daily lives. She stressed the critical need to fill cybersecurity positions in Virginia and the opportunities for public, private and academic sectors to partner together to find creative solutions to address these hiring shortages. View the full video of Warden’s remarks here:

Yoran reinforced the evolution of cybersecurity in his keynote and, like Warden, referenced the expansion of the cyber threat area into business and our daily lives. He stressed the need to develop new flexible, perimeter-less cybersecurity to meet growing threats from mobile and IoT expansion. Yoran explained that the Greater Washington region, with its unmatched research and expertise, is equipped to meet these new cyber demands. In fact, according to Yoran, the region has the potential to be “Security Valley.” View Yoran’s keynote here:

 

Lights…camera…Cybersecurity Summit! View the Summit’s photo gallery here.

What are you doing on February 15, 2017? NVTC is hosting its first-ever Capital Data Summit in Tysons Corner! Learn more!

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Here on the NVTC blog, we continue to share content from our inaugural Capital Cybersecurity Summit that took place on Nov. 2-3, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

1021Capital Cybersecurity Summit Logo 3Did you catch the Capital Cybersecurity Summit’s opening panel, Collaborating for Cyber Success? Panel participants included Invincea CEO Anup Ghosh, Forcepoint Chief Strategy Officer and President, Federal Division, Ed Hammersla and Tenable Network Security COO and Co-Founder Jack Huffard. Blue Delta Capital Partners Co-Founder Mark Frantz moderated.

The panel highlighted the exponentially beneficial cross-flow between government and commercial cybersecurity and discussed the Greater Washington region’s deep and diverse digital security assets – cutting-edge cyber products, pre-eminent talent and rich intellectual capital – that can be applied in the public and private sectors alike.

One of the reoccurring themes discussed is the need for a public relations paradigm shift when it comes to cybersecurity in the Greater Washington region. Area companies must not only promote their federal clients and solutions, but they must also promote the problems they are solving across all other sectors – and across the globe. The speakers agreed the region’s best cyber asset is the unmatched talent and companies must continuously promote and engage this talent to keep them in Greater Washington.

Panelists also discussed the historical 2016 elections and their cybersecurity implications. In every sector cyber threats are permeating all aspects of business and panelists agreed the future judicial implications of cybersecurity will be huge. After all, according to the panelists, cyber risk is business risk.

Why is now the best time to launch a cyber startup in the Greater Washington region? Check out full video coverage of the panel to find out why:

Read Christian Science Monitor’s Passcode coverage of the panel here.

Lights…camera…Cybersecurity Summit! View the Summit’s photo gallery here.

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1021Capital Cybersecurity Summit Logo 3We continue to share content from our inaugural Capital Cybersecurity Summit that took place on Nov. 2-3, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

The Summit’s engaging Force Multipliers to Future Cybersecurity Panel explored the Greater Washington Region’s unparalleled cybersecurity talent and the cyber workforce gaps that exist in the region. US Cyber Challenge National Director Karen Evans, MACH37 Managing Partner Rick Gordon, MITRE Innovation Area Lead for Cybersecurity Dr. George Roelke and In-Q-Tel Executive Vice President and Director of Cyber Reboot Teresa Shea participated in the panel. Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology Director Dr. Charles Clancy moderated.

Dr. Clancy opened the discussion by asking panelists what they thought was the region’s biggest cybersecurity opportunity. All panelists agreed – the region’s cyber talent and expertise are unmatched anywhere. Gordon shared that because of its cyber talent, Greater Washington is at the “center of mass” when it comes to cyber innovation, is able to compete on a global level and offer high cyber investment returns.

Shea stressed that entrepreneurs are flocking to the region to join its cyber movement, driven by their passion to solve cyber problems. Shea also noted that the region has some of the top cyber thought leadership, which is helping to fuel cyber investment and recruitment in the region.

The conversation dove deeper into the region’s cyber hiring gaps and strategies needed to combat those gaps. Some key points from the discussion:

  • By 2020, there will be a 1.5 million shortfall of cybersecurity professionals in the U.S.; this cyber hiring gap requires new recruitment promotion tactics
  • New, customized cyber training and job pathways must be created; not all cyber professionals will have the same educational and professional backgrounds. As the business and communications sides of cyber evolve today, not all cyber positions are created the same
  • The opportunity for personal growth in the cyber field, especially in the Greater Washington region, is tremendous; a personalized approach to promoting different cyber career paths is required to recruit the best talent

Dr. Clancy asked panelists which new college cybersecurity courses they think should be required today. Here are their suggestions:

  • Reverse engineering coding
  • Technology for the liberal arts
  • Mandatory cybersecurity training
  • Experiential learning

In promoting the region’s unique cyber assets, especially its talent, the panelists agreed that a fundamental public relations shift is needed. No longer is cybersecurity in the region strictly entrenched in the federal government. Cyber providers in the region are solving a vast range of problems across the public and private sectors for global clients.

As illustrated by the panelists, cybersecurity culture is in its infancy, especially in the Greater Washington region, and its evolution will be extremely exciting to watch – and shape.

Force Multipliers 1 Force Multipliers 2

Check out the full Capital Cybersecurity Summit photo gallery

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1021Capital Cybersecurity Summit Logo 3Throughout the coming weeks on the NVTC blog we’ll be sharing content from our inaugural Capital Cybersecurity Summit that took place on Nov. 2-3, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

One of the Summit’s highlights was the Investment Capital for Cybersecurity Panel, which focused on how to raise sufficient capital to fund promising cyber technologies and applications. The discussion featured Crosslink Capital Venture Partner Matt Bigge, Bessemer Venture Partners Vice President Sunil James, Blackstone CISO Jay Leek and Paladin Founder and Managing Partner Michael Steed. Raymond James Managing Director and Co-Head of Technology & Services Stefan Jansen moderated.

Jansen’s opening question for the investor panelists, “What does it take for cybersecurity startups to matter?” brought to light two themes that emerged throughout the panel: (1) to attract and maintain investors, promising cyber businesses must be inherently committed to innovation; (2) the human capital side of cyber startups and the teams that drive them are as important as the technologies themselves for investors.

Steed shared that he looks to invest in cyber companies that are disruptive in the cyber space and filling a void that solves a distinct cyber problem. James noted that his organization looks for a vitality in startups – energy for innovation that inspires engagement in all ranks of the organization and is infectious.

Bigge noted that his most successful cybersecurity investments have been made in organizations with strong founding teams that are passionate about solving their customers’ problems. Leek agreed, stating that investing in a company’s management team is just as important as the technology itself. Leek encouraged promising cyber businesses to take a deeper look into the efficiency of their operations, a critical factor for investors.

Some of the other noteworthy investment factors panelists shared included:

  • The importance of a quality and diversified revenue base for cyber startups
  • Rising cyber businesses must be able to provide ROI for their products and services after their first year
  • Cyber startups should have the ability to pinpoint opportunities for expansion within their existing customer base

View the full video from the Investment Capital for Cybersecurity Panel below and stay tuned for more Capital Cybersecurity Summit content here on the NVTC blog!

Investment Capital for Cybersecurity Panel Video: 

Check out the Capital Cybersecurity Summit photo gallery!

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1021Capital Cybersecurity Summit Logo 3Leading up to our Capital Cybersecurity Summit NEXT WEEK on November 2-3, 2016, we’re sharing a weekly roundup of some of the top cybersecurity stories. Here are the last week’s top headlines. Tweet us interesting cyber articles at @NOVATechCouncil.

National Cyber Response Plan + Cybersecurity Strategies:
DHS Races to Get Obama’s Signature on Cyber Response Plan   NextGov

Good Cybersecurity Doesn’t Try to Prevent Every Attack   Harvard Business Review

Why the Auto Industry Is Tapping a Boeing Executive to Lead Its Cybersecurity Group   Fortune

DDoS Attack:
Hobbyist hackers probably caused Friday’s Internet meltdown, researchers say   Washington Post

Cybersecurity Meets Privacy Concerns:
Is Facebook’s Facial-Scanning Technology Invading Your Privacy Rights?   Bloomberg Technology

AI + Cybersecurity:
As Artificial Intelligence Evolves, So Does Its Criminal Potential   The New York Times

Want to learn more about NVTC’s 2016 Capital Cybersecurity Summit and register? Click here or watch the video below. #CapitalCyber

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Doug Logan, chief technologist at US Cyber Challenge and CEO of Cyber Ninjas, is the author of our latest cybersecurity guest blog post on new approaches to cybersecurity hiring and retaining top cybersecurity talent. US Cyber Challenge’s National Director, Karen Evans, will be speaking on the Force Multipliers to Future Cybersecurity panel at the 2016 Capital Cybersecurity Summit on Nov. 2-3, 2016.


us cyber challenge logoWith over 209,000 vacant cybersecurity jobs in the U.S and job postings up 74% over the last 5 years; it is an understatement to say that cybersecurity is a growth field. Yet with my work with the US Cyber Challenge, I am routinely told by some of America’s best and brightest that they’re having difficulty finding a job. Once a person reaches the six month mark in a cybersecurity role, recruiters will call like crazy. Getting that initial experience is another story. If we’re going to secure our companies and our country, this is a problem we need to solve.

Traditional hiring practices suggest that we find people who have performed the job function in the past. By this measure, studies have shown that fewer than 25% of cybersecurity applicants are qualified to perform the job functions. I’ve actually had even less optimistic results with less than 10% of candidates qualified. In many cases this is despite certifications, or even similar past job experience. The resource pool is simply not large enough to readily find skilled candidates; and those who are skilled are extremely expensive. I’d like to suggest a different approach: hire the inexperienced and train them.

Time and time again I’ve been surprised at how quickly smart, passionate, but inexperienced individuals out-perform more experienced but “normal” candidates. On average I find that the right candidates learn about twice as fast as your typical candidate. This means that at six months in, my passionate candidate is functioning at the one year experience level; and that one year in, they already function at the equivalent of two years of experience. At this pace it does not take long before they surpass those with more experience; and best of all, home-grown talent is more loyal and won’t typically jump ship. But how do you find this talent?

The best way I’ve found to find smart, passionate, individuals who are interested in cybersecurity is taking a look at those candidates who find the time to learn cybersecurity topics even though they are not required to. This is often showcased in resumes that are littered with self-study topics related to the field, or with participating in one of the many cybersecurity competitions available. This list includes Cyber Aces, Cyber Patriot, the US Cyber Challenge and the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. If you want to check out a site that specializes in showcasing this type of talent, this is why the site CyberCompEx was created.

Unlike the inflated prices of experienced cybersecurity professionals, truly entry-level candidates can typically be picked up at a fraction of the cost. However, with this discount in salary you should be planning on spending a good $5,000-$10,000 the first year on investing in their training. In addition, you should be sure to review their performance at the six month mark and bump their pay appropriately at that time. While home-grown talent is less likely to jump ship, you always need to be in the ball park of their current worth.

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