This week’s cybersecurity headlines spanned Yahoo’s massive data breach, growing election cyber threats and a major IoT hack. Leading up to our Capital Cybersecurity Summit on November 2-3, 2016, we’ll be sharing a weekly roundup of some of the top cybersecurity stories. Find an interesting cybersecurity article? Share it with us in the comments or Tweet us at @NOVATechCouncil

Want to learn more about NVTC’s 2016 Capital Cybersecurity Summit? Click here or watch our event video below.

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Recent data breaches – from the telecommunications and healthcare industries to the Office of Personnel Management (whose breach impacted over 4 million people) – have left no industry immune to cyber attacks. NVTC recently published a cybersecurity infographic on the rising impacts of cyber threats and the federal government and Great Washington region’s elevated response to these threats. One of the most astounding statistics highlighted in this infographic is the 2016 federal cybersecurity budget, which increased by $5 billion in the last year alone.

The National Capital region is at the intersection of innovation, policy and research and that is why NVTC is hosting the first ever 2016 Capital Cybersecurity Summit on November 2-3, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

This region is THE capital of cybersecurity because it is home to:

  1. One of the most educated cybersecurity and tech workforces in the country (55% of tech openings in Virginia are in cyber!)
  2. A large number of Fortune 1000 companies
  3. An incredible number of startup tech firms and entrepreneurs
  4. U.S. Cyber Command
  5. The Department of Defense and intelligence agencies like NSA and CIA, addressing both defensive threats to our classified information and infrastructure as well as offensive cybersecurity capabilities employed against our adversaries
  6. Political and regulatory infrastructure that addresses policy issues surrounding cybersecurity
  7. Unparalleled research infrastructure through institutions like DARPA, IARPA, ODNI, ARL, AFRL (Did you know – The Internet came out of a government-focused research effort at DARPA?)
  8. World class local universities including George Mason University, George Washington University, University of Maryland, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech
  9. Leading Incubators and investors like MACH37, In-Q-Tel, Carlyle Group, Arlington Capital (46% of Greater Washington venture capital funding supported cyber solutions in 2015!)
  10. An underlying commitment to innovation among all members of our region: private companies, government organizations and universities

We’re just over ONE month to go until the Capital Cybersecurity Summit. Planning is well underway and each week we are announcing new panels and speakers. Click here for the latest agenda and to register.

 

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This week on NVTC’s blog, Alex Castelli, CPA, is partner and Technology and Life Sciences Industry Practice Leader at NVTC member company CohnReznick, explains how crowdfunding has become such an attractive financing vehicle for technology companies.


7K0A0597[1]The technology industry stands out as a major beneficiary of this promising method of capital raising. In 2014, technology was a leading sector in terms of capital commitments – at around $98.5 million – and led the number of raises that have been offered since inception, according to Crowdnetic’s Quarterly Private Companies Publicly Raising Data Analysis.2 Capital commitments in the technology industry trailed only behind the services industry.

So why has crowdfunding become such an attractive financing vehicle for technology companies? And what is required to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign?

Proving legitimacy and demand

Obtaining financing from traditional lenders such as banks, angel investors, and venture capital firms can be difficult for some early-stage technology companies. Crowdfunding offers an additional source for raising capital. Many investors are eager to support innovative ideas or services, and the growing legitimacy among accredited investors to provide financial backing through the internet has contributed to the popularity of crowdfunding. For tech startups, crowdfunding is an effective way to demonstrate to lenders the demand for a product or service and also to justify the company’s financial projections. Technology companies that have successfully secured accredited investors via the web are especially attractive to traditional lenders as their ideas have reached a level of legitimacy and approval.

Testing the markets and building brand awareness

In addition to raising capital, crowdfunding provides a platform for technology entrepreneurs to test the success of their product or service once it is officially on the market. Through this process, an entrepreneur can determine whether to continue investing time and money in a particular product or service based on feedback from potential customers. Doing so avoids involvement in a venture that may ultimately prove to be futile. The exposure of a product or service through crowdfunding offers the ability to build brand awareness and develop a loyal community of customers right from the start. Developing a loyal following can generate word-of-mouth advertising that can boost a startup business to success.

Finding success

There is a commonality among crowdfunding success stories. Deals receiving funding typically have outside sponsors who advocate on behalf of the deal. These are usually prominent investors who are willing to put their names on the deal and endorse them personally. This signals to other investors that it is a quality opportunity. “This is not so different from the way investments have always been done,” said Steven Dresner, CEO of Dealflow. “In the past, one prominent venture capitalist would put a million dollars in a deal, and then the startup could use that as leverage to attract more VC money. Now it is just taking place in a whole new forum.”

What does the future of crowdfunding hold?

Notwithstanding its popularity within the technology industry, to date, equity crowdfunding may be best characterized as a “growing” source of capital formation available to private companies. Entrepreneurs continue to test the market in determining how best to utilize crowdfunding as an alternative strategy for obtaining financing, gaining exposure, validating their products or services, and ultimately, expanding their businesses. The influence of crowdfunding on the middle market sector has yet to be fully realized. However, crowdfunding is on track to not only transform how privately held companies raise capital and interact with investors, but to also influence how businesses formulate and implement their go-to-market strategies.

1 https://www.fundable.com/infographics/economic-value-crowdfunding
2 http://www.crowdnetic.com/reports/jan-2015-report


Alex Castelli, CPA, is a partner and CohnReznick’s Technology and Life Sciences Industry Practice Leader. He can be contacted at 703-744-6708 or alex.castelli@cohnreznick.com. To learn more about CohnReznick’s Technology Industry Practice, visit the company’s webpage and follow CohnReznick on Twitter @CR_TechInd.

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NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. This week, the NVTC Digital Strategy Committee writes about the group’s recent event on digital strategy and public safety, featuring Fairfax City Fire Department Chief Richard R. Bowers, and how it revealed several very interesting and useful challenges for the NOVA business community.


The Northern Virginia Technology Council’s (NVTC) Digital Strategy Committee (#nvtcdigstrat) recent event regarding Digital Strategy and Public Safety, featuring Richard R. Bowers – Chief, Fairfax Fire Department – revealed several very interesting and useful challenges for the NOVA business community.Not least of which was the current challenges around focused, resourced digital strategy planning across the County constituent agencies, and among local jurisdictions.Many targeted capabilities and improvements in “front-end” digital tools, outreach and engagement, plus initiatives on the “back-end” to handle system-specific data and information management are certainly underway, but information-sharing among the public safety stakeholders – businesses, government and the public – remains a strategic planning, governance and education hurdle to address. In other words, a B2G2C digital strategy challenge.NVTC Digital Strategy with Fairfax Fire Chief Richard Bowers

“Simplicity” was a key concept – that seems hard to maintain in the first responder settings, particularly with the profusion of both new technology equipment and situational data. Chief Bowers illustrated the challenge with local EMS responders – on route or on scene -having to quickly use and interact with at least 5 separate kinds of equipment:

  • EPCR (Electronic Patient Care Reporting)
  • CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch)
  • MDC (Mobile Data Computers)
  • NCR (National Capital Region) Patient Tracking System
  • Mobile Phones, iPads and Radios

The variety of interfaces, variety of data granulation, variety of authentication methods – it all adds up to what can be a burdensome expectation on responders, which creates higher risk in areas of data quality and security, process coordination and mission efficiency. This hinders, therefore, the ability of the entire responder community to deliver optimal outcomes – in spite of the number and types of technologies available and in use.

Furthermore, as the technologies available to both the responders and the public become more pervasive, easy to operate and use – for collecting or contributing incident reporting, sensory feedback and overall situational awareness data – it’s simply too difficult to add these inputs to the mix in a way that avoids information overload, or worse, information degradation or errors. There’s no common information architecture that anticipates a proliferation of device inputs, mobile and social channels.

A standard “dashboard” visualization service for use in the field, to quickly access the various systems and growing information sources, was also mentioned as a highly-desirable capability – particularly a dashboard to sensitive systems and protected information in a BYOD environment – i.e. on personal cellphones or tablets. A related need surfaced above the actual dashboard of the response vehicles and fire engines – actually having “heads up” display on the windshield of incident information, particularly GPS and route data.

Fairfax 2015 Police and Fire Games

The Committee was also briefed on the upcoming World Police and Fire Games, coming to Fairfax County at the end of June this year (2015). It’s anticipated that over 12,000 athletes and family/guests (over 30,000 in all) will attend the games, and that Fairfax County will experience tremendous global attention, regional pride and local economic benefit from hosting the event. Over 2000 volunteer slots remain open, along with many sponsorship opportunities for businesses, organizations or individuals. The Fairfax 2015 Games Website maintains all information for athletes and all other participants, from local accommodations and event venues, to a robust social community and online marketplace.

The NVTC Digital Strategy Committee looks forward to more collaboration sessions with the Northern Virginia public safety and First Responder community, and will continue to support information-sharing about B2G2C digital strategies.

Thanks to the NVTC event sponsors, speakers, coordinators and volunteers, including:

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NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. This week, John Beveridge of Rapidan Inbound shares insights both on closing deals as well as developing a business that you want to close from the Nov. 20 Small Business and Entrepreneur and Business Development, Marketing & Sales joint committee event.


One of the most difficult things for tech companies, or any company, for that matter, is creating revenue from your technology. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of build it and they will come.On Thursday, November 20, the Small Business and Entrepreneur and the Business Development, Marketing & Sales Committees hosted a joint event titled, “The Art of the Deal – How Successful High-Growth Companies Close Deals.”

Hosted by Samantha Smith of Etail Eye, the event featured 3 executives from high-growth companies who shared their experiences on how to best generate revenue. Panelists included:

Marty Kaufman, VP of Operations, WeddingWire

Chris Marentis, CEO, Surefire Social

Carolyn Parent, Chief Experience Officer, Gravy

The panelists shared insights both on closing deals as well as doing the things you need to develop business that you want to close. Here are some of the tips the panelists shared.

  • A good way to start developing business is to develop your personal brand as well as your company brand. Creating good content is a great way to develop your personal brand and anyone can do it. Chris Marentis started Surefire Social with an eBook.
  • Economic down times create opportunities for new businesses. Carolyn Parent recommended that new businesses take what they can get and show results quickly. You may want to land that Fortune 500 account, but if a good SMB opportunity arises, take advantage of it. To close business, find some way to show them value quickly, even if it’s just a needs analysis.
  • New businesses can take advantage of sales technology to qualify new business opportunities. Marty Kaufman shared how WeddingWire’s data scientists use predictive analytics to help them target their business development resources to maximize revenue. Don’t overlook the affordable SaaS sales technology resources available to you.
  • Depending on which market you serve, your sales strategies will vary. B2C companies should look to create viral buzz around their products and services while B2B companies should position themselves as valued business partners to their customers. The B2G market moves at a glacial pace and sellers need to be early to the party.

These were just a few of the insights the panelists shared at the event. Want to learn more about business development, sales and marketing? Come to the next committee meeting on December 16.

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On April 10, the NVTC Business Development, Marketing and Sales Committee held an event entitled “Lead Generation Technology Forum: How to Maximize Your Pipeline.” The event featured a distinguished panel of industry experts and end users, and offered ways to utilize automated marketing and lead generation solutions. John Beveridge, a vice chair of the committee, shares insights from the event below.


The business buying process has changed: a recent study by the Corporate Executive Board found that the average business buyer completes 57 percent of her sales process before ever contacting a salesperson. The NVTC Business Development, Marketing and Sales Committee recently held an event to help business deal with this new business reality.

Marketing executives from Deltek and Sonatype, along with industry representatives from Marketo and Vocus shared their thoughts and experiences on using marketing automation technologies to fill their pipelines and nurture their leads through the customer acquisition process.

The panel shared several insights with the audience:

  • Digital marketing is a process, not a product. Companies starting out with lead generation technology will need to transform their approach. You may need to reconfigure your team’s skills and learn new technologies to successfully implement a digital marketing process.
  • Prior to starting a digital marketing program, it’s important to know who you want to reach and to make sure you have the technology tools to accomplish your mission.
  • Digital, or inbound, marketing is based on the premise of attraction. It matches the modern buying process by providing potential buyers with educational content as they perform pre-purchase research.
  • One of the primary advantages of digital marketing is that it provides intelligence on your lead’s behaviors, which empowers sales people with information to make their outreaches more meaningful to buyers.
  • Digital marketing simplifies the marketing process by automating tasks like email marketing, lead nurturing and lead scoring.
  • Educational content like blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, webinars and videos are the fuel that runs lead generation technology. Companies considering digital marketing need to create high-quality content that educates their audiences and helps move them to a buying decision.
  • Digital marketing software lets companies measure every element of their lead generation process and optimize their process based on marketplace feedback.

Interesting in learning more about lead generation technology and other business development issues? Become a member of the NVTC Business Development, Marketing and Sales Committee.

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about.me – Your Online Business Card

August 1st, 2012 | Posted by Andrew Bates in Social Media Committee - (Comments Off)

Paper business cards are becoming a thing of the past.  Most of us still hand them out as well as receive them, but where do they go?  Do you enter all of those details into your contact lists, or do those cards end up in a stack with others that will never see the light of day again?  The truth is that many people do not refer to them after meeting someone new.  Frequently these cards even end up in the trash before the day is over.

Now it has become increasingly important to provide a simple method to give your new contacts a way to find your information without digging through that dusty stack hidden in their desks.  LinkedIn is still one of the best ways for professionals to keep track of fellow business associates, but there must be more than one way to find each other online.

What if you had a simple online business card that represents your experience and value without all the issues when we meet someone new?  about.me has the answer.  This site is a free way to meet these needs without all the hassle.   about.me allows you to provide your details in a single page that can become your online business card.

In a matter of minutes, anyone can create an about.me page. It can communicate your value as well as a bit of your personality which really sets you apart from others.  The site also allows you to build a custom about.me page that can even include your name as part of the web address (like mine for instance: about.me/AndrewBates).  And, since I built my page a few years ago, I’ve found that other business professionals can find my page and details with a quick search in Google.

Some quick tips to get the most out of your about.me page:

Keep it simple – That is the point.  Less is more.  This differentiates about.me from all other personal websites.  Include only the amount of text required to show your value.

Show some personality – You can add any image as your background, much like the wallpaper on your desktop.  Using a picture of yourself will help others remember you, and it is a great opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd.  LinkedIn is the right environment for all of your professional details; about.me gives you the opportunity to be less formal.

Link it to your other profiles and sites – about.me features include the ability to link your page to other URLs including your website, twitter and LinkedIn.  This can help others find any and all of your profiles.  “Social SEO” / social media optimization builds a web of your profiles online allowing others to find you more easily.

Promote your profile – Get it out there.  Mention it to your new contacts.  Put the link in your email signature.  Make sure your about.me URL is prominent on all of your other social profiles as well.

About.me is free, easy and fun.  There a number of examples on the site that can give you inspiration.  Please let me know what you think.  Comment on this post and include the link to your new profile!

andrewbatesThis post was written on August, 1 2012 by Andrew Bates, the director of online marketing at Hinge Marketing in Reston, Va. He is responsible for managing all of Hinge’s digital marketing strategies and services. These services include search engine optimization, social media, paid search and media advertising, email lead generation as well as comprehensive web analytics. Bates has developed custom online marketing and social media programs for organizations that include Chevron, the American Cancer Society, DuPont and Rosetta Stone. A self-described super geek entrepreneur, Bates helped create and lead two Washington, D.C. area design and marketing firms, both acquired by industry giants. He has been an active member of NVTC for 10 years, serving on multiple committees.

 

 

 

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