When NSA employees leave to start their own companies
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Zuly Gonzalez and Beau Adkins founders of Light Point Security and former NSA employees
Zuly Gonzalez and Beau Adkins are co-founders of Light Point Security. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

In October, Ian Duncan, intelligence and military reporter for the Baltimore Sun, interviewed me for a story about former NSA employees that left the Agency to start their own companies. Titled “When NSA employees leave to start their own companies,” the story looks at several Agency entrepreneurs and examines the challenges facing the NSA in retaining the top notch talent they helped to train. It’s an interesting read and I thought it was worth sharing here on the blog. Below is an excerpt from the story.

Adam Fuchs and his small team labored for years inside the National Security Agency on a system that would enable analysts to access vast troves of intelligence data and spot hidden patterns.

“We very much had a startup feel,” Fuchs said. The team worked in an office at Fort Meade with ideas scrawled across whiteboards and old furniture scattered around.

Their work helped analysts identify terrorist groups. But the ordinarily secretive NSA did something else with the technology: Figuring that others could make use of it, too, the agency released it to the world for free.

And that was when those who had built the tool saw an opportunity. Half eventually left the agency to develop it on the outside. Fuchs and others founded a company.

Their departure exemplifies a challenge facing the NSA: The agency spends years training some of the nation’s brightest minds in cutting-edge skills only to watch them take those skills to more lucrative jobs in the private sector.

You can read the full story on the Baltimore Sun’s website here.

Powered By Women: Meet Maryland’s Female Tech Leaders
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Light Point Security Update, StartupsLeave a comment on Powered By Women: Meet Maryland’s Female Tech Leaders

Zuly Gonzalez CEO Light Point SecurityI’m honored to have been recognized by The Daily Record as one of Maryland’s top female leaders in the tech industry. The Daily Record’s latest edition of the Path to Excellence magazine featured the top female leaders in tech in the State, including myself. They profiled each one of us, and asked us to share quick tips for the upcoming generation of women leaders in Maryland.

Below is an excerpt from the story, but please head on over to The Daily Record’s website to read the full article.

 

 

Women make up roughly 37.9 percent of Maryland’s technology workforce, according to data from the state’s Department of Commerce. Educators and experts attribute the disparity to as far back as middle school, when many young girls lose interest in science and math. You’ll learn more about the reasons for this drop off on page 14. In this issue of Path to Excellence, you’ll meet several of the women who are leading the state’s tech industry. They are leading some of the state’s most innovative companies as they improve cybersecurity, health care and help to grow the next generation of female leadership in the tech industry.

 

Zuly Gonzalez | Light Point Security
Zuly Gonzalez is the co-founder and CEO of Light Point Security, based in Catonsville.
She co-founded the firm to solve the biggest program in cybersecurity today: web-based malware.
Gonzalez has more than 10 years of experience in the U.S. federal government working to secure national security information systems.

Light Point Security: One of Maryland’s Cyber Warriors
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Light Point Security Update, Security, StartupsLeave a comment on Light Point Security: One of Maryland’s Cyber Warriors

Light Point Security is one of Maryland's hottest cybersecurity companiesThe CyberMaryland initiative published a very nice booklet titled “CyberMaryland: Meet Maryland’s Cyber Warriors” that showcases the many resources, opportunities and companies in Maryland’s cybersecurity ecosystem. The booklet was promoted during last week’s CyberMaryland 2013 Conference and will also be available at the RSA 2014 Conference.

Part of the booklet focused on showcasing Maryland’s hottest cybersecurity companies, and Light Point Security was one of the few companies chosen. We are honored to be mentioned alongside some of Maryland’s most successful cybersecurity companies like Sourcefire (who was acquired by Cisco for $2.7 billion just a few days ago), Tenable and Lockheed Martin.

Our CEO, Beau Adkins, sat down for a one-on-one interview with CyberMaryland. Below is the interview.

Q: How did you start out – what is the “backstory”?

A: We started Light Point Security because we recognized that the security industry was in desperate need of true innovation.

My co-founder, Zuly Gonzalez, and I are both former NSA employees with over 23 years of combined experience in offensive and defensive security. At NSA we worked on some of the most challenging security problems facing our nation. We realized that our national security was in jeopardy if the security industry kept going down the same path of attempting to detect malware after it had already reached the network.

We also saw how the impact of malware went well beyond the initial infection, in some cases causing companies to go out of business. We saw a huge opportunity, had the right skills to solve the problem and cared deeply about solving it. This lead to our decision to leave our secure government jobs to start Light Point Security, and create a product that truly protects you from web-based malware. We are dedicated to changing the way security professionals think about security.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: Our customers are enterprises in industries that deal with sensitive, confidential or proprietary information. For example, the financial, banking and defense industries. We have also had great success working with companies offering products that complement Light Point Web Enterprise.

Q: What makes you stand out from your competition?

A: Computer security hasn’t changed much in the last decade. Current security products rely on detecting malware in order to protect the user. The problem with this approach is that the rate of growth at which malware is being created on a daily basis makes it impossible for these detection-based products to keep up. As a result, malware easily evades these defenses and wreaks havoc on an enterprise.

Instead of trying to detect malicious software, our award-winning product assumes all web content is malicious and isolates it in a disposable container where it can do no harm. Furthermore, it happens automatically and invisibly to the employee, and without the need for constant updates. Light Point Web Enterprise requires no change in user behavior, no user training and no additional programs for the employee to deal with. They simply browse the web the way they always have, but with a level of protection no other security product can offer.

Q: Where do you see the company in 3 or 5 years?

A: Light Point Security will be a nationally recognized name in enterprise security, and a leader in the isolation-based security space. Light Point Security will be a center of cybersecurity innovation in Maryland, with a suite of products to protect our customers from even the most advanced malware. With a company culture that encourages innovation, Light Point Security will be the place where security professionals from all over the country will want to work.

Q: Why is Maryland so important to your organization?

A: Being headquartered in Maryland is the ideal location for cybersecurity companies. Fort Meade, other federal installations and top notch universities have been attracting cybersecurity talent to the state for years. With the high demand that is being placed on cybersecurity experts, hiring the best of the best can be challenging, but it is crucial to the success of a company. Tapping into Maryland’s thriving community of security professionals gives Light Point Security a competitive edge.

In addition, the abundance of cybersecurity resources, like the bwtech@UMBC Cyber Incubator, and Maryland’s dedication to growing the cybersecurity industry in the state means that there is no better place in the country to start and grow a business like ours.

 Light Point Security one of Maryland's cyber warriors

Light Point Security Advances to the Final 5 of the Wall Street Journal’s Startup of the Year
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Light Point Security Update, Startups3 Comments on Light Point Security Advances to the Final 5 of the Wall Street Journal’s Startup of the Year

Light Point Security Wall Street Journal Startup of the YearAs most of you know, Light Point Security was one of 24 companies selected to participate in the Wall Street Journal’s Startup of the Year series. Since the series launched on June 24, we’ve participated in several tasks and have had to endure 3 elimination rounds. We are happy to report that we survived the latest elimination round on Sept 26! This puts Light Point Security in the top 5 most innovative and risk-taking startups in the nation according to the WSJ. We are pretty darn proud of that!

Many thanks to everyone that has supported us through out this competition! You can catch up on all our videos by going to Light Point Security’s profile page on the WSJ. And while you’re at it, please take a second to vote for Light Point Security. We would love your vote!

Here’s the video announcing the final 5 companies of the Wall Street Journal Startup of the Year:

Building a Cybersecurity Startup in Maryland
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Events, Light Point Security Update, Security, StartupsLeave a comment on Building a Cybersecurity Startup in Maryland

Technically Baltimore Cybersecurity EventI was invited to speak last week at Technically Baltimore’s event on Growing Maryland’s Cybersecurity Industry. They invited a series of speakers to give 4 – 5 minute lightning talks on a variety of topics that explore the growing cybersecurity industry in Maryland. The goal was to discuss how we can grow Maryland’s cybersecurity industry to create more jobs.

The event took place at CyberPoint’s beautiful Inner Harbor location in Baltimore. It was very well organized, and I very much enjoyed attending and speaking.

In my presentation I shared the story behind Light Point Security, and talked about what it’s like to build a cybersecurity startup in Maryland. I mentioned the good resources Maryland has to offer for cybersecurity companies, and also shared my thoughts on what Maryland is lacking to truly become the cybersecurity leader in the country.

As I said in my talk, the one area where I think Maryland is lacking is in funding opportunities for very early stage companies. We definitely have the intellectual resources in this region to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley, but we need to make more financial resources available to very early stage companies if we really want to be competitive with the West coast. I feel this is the last ingredient needed to make Maryland the unrivaled leader in cybersecurity.

Here’s a video of my 5 minute talk:

Also, take a look at this nice write up by Technically Baltimore on my presentation.

Light Point Security’s Springboard Dolphin Tank Pitch and Startup Showcase at Day of Fosterly 2013
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Events, Light Point Security Update, StartupsLeave a comment on Light Point Security’s Springboard Dolphin Tank Pitch and Startup Showcase at Day of Fosterly 2013

Light Point Security at Day of Fosterly 2013We had the great opportunity of participating at the Day of Fosterly event on May 4. The Day of Fosterly conference is a full day of collaborative entrepreneurship for anyone interested in starting, growing, or exiting a business. The day was jam packed with panels, workshops, speakers and lots and lots of networking.

Light Point Security was selected to participate in two of the day’s best events: Springboard Enterprises’ Dolphin Tank and the Startup Showcase.

Springboard Enterprises’ Dolphin Tank

Springboard Enterprises’ Dolphin Tank was the first event of the day. Unlike ABC’s Shark Tank, in the Dolphin Tank entrepreneurs share their ideas without the fear that the audience will tear them to shreds. Immediately after concluding a two minute elevator pitch in front of an expert panel and a live audience, the entrepreneurs will receive feedback to help improve their pitch. It is an interactive, fast-pitch session with no slides – just the entrepreneur speaking.

Light Point Security was one of just six companies pre-selected by a group of judges to pitch in the Dolphin Tank. I (Zuly) gave the two minute company pitch and received some great feedback from the panelists. I even received some offers to connect us with potential partners.

Startup Showcase

Wrapping up the day’s activities was the Startup Showcase and Reception. It was a one and a half hour session designed to showcase the region’s hottest startups. The companies invited to participate in the Startup Showcase were pre-selected by the Fosterly team, and given a table to demo their products and showcase what make makes them so special.

Light Point Security was one of the hot startups invited to participate in the Startup Showcase. We gave lots of demos, and spoke to a wide range of folks spanning from cyber security executives to investors to other entrepreneurs. We received lots of positive feedback during our demos.

Our Thoughts

We were really impressed with the overall quality of the day. The Fosterly team managed to attract high quality speakers and attendees, which made networking at the event extremely valuable. And they did a great job organizing interesting and valuable sessions for entrepreneurs. It was a great way to connect with the local startup community, and build new relationships.

The Light Point Security team got a lot out of attending the Day of Fosterly. I hope they do it again next year, and I would encourage all local entrepreneurs to attend.

Light Point Security Presents at the NVTC Entrepreneur Spotlight Event
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Events, Light Point Security Update, StartupsLeave a comment on Light Point Security Presents at the NVTC Entrepreneur Spotlight Event

Light Point Security presents at NVTC Entrepreneur SpotlightWe are pleased to announce that Light Point Security was selected by the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) to present at their Entrepreneur Spotlight event on May 2, 2013 at Ernst & Young in McLean, VA.

Entrepreneur Spotlight provides early stage startups an opportunity to present their concept in front of an audience of accredited investors. The Entrepreneur Spotlight program allows investors to hear from exciting and innovative startups, and focuses on companies that are truly in the startup phase and may only be looking for small amounts of funding.

Light Point Security was one of only 5 startups selected for this great opportunity. During the event, we were given 5 minutes to present our business, followed by a 10 minute Q&A session from a panel of investors.

Light Point Security to Present at Mid-Atlantic Venture Association’s TechBUZZ Spring 2013 Event
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Events, Light Point Security Update, StartupsLeave a comment on Light Point Security to Present at Mid-Atlantic Venture Association’s TechBUZZ Spring 2013 Event

Light Point Security to present at TechBUZZ Spring 2013We are pleased to announce that the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA) selected Light Point Security out of more than 125 companies to present at their TechBUZZ Spring 2013 event.

TechBUZZ is the area’s premier event where MAVA shines the spotlight on the Mid-Atlantic’s hottest up-and-coming early stage technology companies. It brings together entrepreneurs and active investors to connect with one another and celebrate the strength of the tech scene in our region. TechBUZZ was launched by MAVA as a half-day seed stage conference preceding its annual Capital Connection, which features growth and later stage companies.

TechBUZZ Spring 2013 will be held on April 23 at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Fifteen other hot, early stage companies will join us on the TechBUZZ stage. The event will also feature stories from local Rock Stars, John Bracken of Speek and Justin Langseth of Zoomdata, as they share what they’ve learned since making their market debut at TechBUZZ in May 2012.

Please join us at this exciting event as we share our story, and engage with the local startup community. As a bonus, use discount code TBDISCLIGHTPT for $10 off any registration level! Click here to register.

You can read the full press release here.

Hope to see you there!

Light Point Security to Present at TechBreakfast Event
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Events, Light Point Security Update, Light Point Web, StartupsLeave a comment on Light Point Security to Present at TechBreakfast Event

Light Point Security to present at TechBreakfast eventWe are excited to be presenting a short overview and demo of Light Point Web Enterprise at this month’s TechBreakfast event in Columbia, MD.

TechBreakfast is a monthly breakfast in Baltimore, Columbia, DC, and Northern Virginia where almost 2,000 (as of this writing the group is 3 people shy of hitting 2,000 members) entrepreneurs, techies, developers, designers and business people see showcases on cool new technology in a demo format and interact with each other. It’s “Show and Tell for Adults” where people show the innovative technology they are working on.

The format is limited to a 7 minute pitch/demo, followed by a 3 minute Q&A session. Our presentation will be similar to the one we gave at the RSA Conference 2013 Innovation Sandbox event, so those that missed RSA can catch it then. We’ll also give a live demo of Light Point Web Enterprise in action.

This month’s Columbia TechBreakfast is being held on March 12 from 8:00am to 10:00am at the Loyola Columbia campus (8890 McGaw Rd #130, Columbia, MD). Best of all it’s free to attend. Please stop by if you’re interested in connecting with us directly, or would like to learn more about Light Point Web Enterprise.

Light Point Security Advances to Round 2 of the InvestMaryland Challenge
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Light Point Security Update, Startups1 Comment on Light Point Security Advances to Round 2 of the InvestMaryland Challenge

Light Point Security advances in the InvestMaryland ChallengeWe are excited to announce that Light Point Security has advanced to Round 2 of the InvestMaryland Challenge. The InvestMaryland Challenge is a business competition hosted by the State of Maryland. They will select one winner from each of the three categories (IT Hardware & Software, Life Science and General), and each winner will receive $100,000. The Challenge will also give away a host of other prizes, like grants in specific areas, incubator space and professional services.

A total of 259 companies applied to the Challenge. In Round 1, they narrowed the field to about 20 companies per category, and Light Point Security was selected as one of the top 20 companies in the IT Hardware & Software category. For Round 2, we were asked to submit a business plan. A few of the Round 2 companies will advance to Round 3, where the winners will be selected.

There are a lot of good companies in the running, and we are proud to be among them. Good luck to all the finalists!

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