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12/3/2014
10:00 AM
Rick Gordon
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How Startups Can Jumpstart Security Innovation

One of the best places for CISOs to turn for a cutting-edge cyber security strategy is the burgeoning world of startups. Here's how to find them.

In the not-too-recent past, the Golden Rule among security practitioners was always: Don’t talk about security. Today, our collective silence is giving way to a new paradigm. Cyber security is a Main Street media issue, and, as a result, security innovation has become a strategic imperative for business.

That’s good news and bad news for information security teams. The good news is your C-suite finally understands why security innovation matters. The bad news: They will expect more of it from you.

Where do you begin? One of the best sources for cyber security innovation is in the burgeoning universe of security startups. These pioneering companies are frequently overlooked because CISOs consider them to be too risky or don’t have the opportunity to hear what they have to offer. In fact, there are many organizations that are focused on stimulating infosec innovation and bridging the gap between early-stage companies and leading security buyers.

The Security Innovation Network, for example, this week will showcase some of the most innovative companies in the security industry from Silicon Valley, the Mid-Atlantic, New York, and the United Kingdom in its SINET16 Showcase, in Washington, D.C.

If you are in the financial services sector, the FinTech Innovation Lab supports early- and growth-stage companies that have developed cutting-edge technology products targeted at financial services customers. While not all FinTech-sponsored companies are security-related, FinTech is a great starting point, especially if you are located in New York.

And finally, accelerators like Mach37 are focused on investing in the next generation of security startups. Mach37 needs to know your most pressing security problems and will invest in new companies to solve them. Mach37 holds weekly events in the spring and fall that are open to all security stakeholders and Demo Days in early December and early June.

If you have never worked with a startup, you may have concerns about the risks associated with their relative immaturity. However, it's probably safer you think. Here’s why:

  • A startup is a partner, not simply another vendor. Startups need you to be delighted with their products. They will overinvest in your project to address your requirements and will adjust their product roadmaps to ensure you get the solution you want over the long-term.
  • You get all the benefits of innovation while outsourcing most of the risk. Simply stated, startups spend their investors’ money to help offset much of the cost associated with building what you want.
  • Of course, when you ultimately buy the product, it will cost you lot less. Deep early-adopter discounts are table stakes for startups, and they are motivated to offer them to you.
  • And finally, the CEO is a phone call away. Instead of being forced to endure a customer service queue and the Musak version of some lame GNR rock ballad, you are going to get the CEO’s mobile number. Their spouses will yell at them if they don't pick up.

The important thing is to recognize that you need to start innovating, and the best place to look for innovation is in startup companies. This will not only enhance your own brand among your peers within your company and the security industry overall, but it will improve your company’s competitive position globally.

Rick Gordon is an expert on security technology, business strategy, and early-stage venture development. He currently serves as Managing Partner of Mach37 TM, a cyber security market-centric accelerator developed by the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology. MACH37 ...
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Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
12/3/2014 | 10:38:18 AM
Great advice
These are great resources & reasons for security teams to partner with a startup. Thanks for sharing them with us Rick. 
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