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November MEETING RECAP
NETWORKR Written by Emily Oliver
Having been coding and web designing for over a decade, Brandon Knudsen’s journey to success has been a great one. He started a website agency known as Generation Labs in 2013, which was able to successfully grow as a start up by only networking in St. George. Just two years later, though, the company growth came to a standstill and Knudsen wondered why. Eventually, he found the answer. “We were not meeting enough new people to grow our company,” he explained. Today, people habitually come into a networking environment and are drawn to those they know. Because there were no seating arrangements of any kind at any of those networking opportunities, there was a lack of interaction with new faces. Simon Sinek once said, “The value of networking is not measured by the number of people we meet but by the number of people we introduce ourselves to” and with that quote in mind Knudsen came up with Networkr, an application that uses an algorithm to seat people at events with others they have never met before.
For those interested in starting a business, Knudsen has some words of advice:
No venture capitalist will invest unless you have a total available market of a billion dollars. They don't want to invest in products that aren’t scalable.
The business plan is dead. Use the business model canvas instead; a business plan never survives the first customer.
Don't hire employees as a startup. Wait until you're an actual business and you have an established system so that you don't end up scaling down the company before its actually created.
Read the book Nail It Then Scale It: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom because it helps to validate that the idea could be successful.
While there is no guarantee that every startup will be successful, advice like this will certainly help those interested to get started. If it is successful, the company will go through an organizational transition before it becomes an official business. According to Knudsen Networkr is in the middle of their organizational transition, where their product has seen so much success that there is an increase in revenue and more partnerships established. They are on their way to becoming the largest resource for networking anywhere and Knudsen estimates that it will only continue.
Coming Back: Touch MD's Journey Written By Emily Oliver Its been nine years since founder Kary Smith first presented at TechUp and in that time, not only has Cedar City’s technology industry expanded but Smith’s company TouchMD has gone through quite the journey. In October’s TechUp meeting, Smith came and shared their story.
The company was first created when he partnered with two people to create compression video disks the size of business cards, the company becoming known as Fusion Media LLC. Various projects across the state brought success and eventually a fortune-five-hundred client in Las Vegas came their way. They started working with real estate and going from disks to bigger screens. From 2002 until 2007 they had a healthily-growing business. When the real estate market collapsed, however, they turned their focus to the medical field— specifically plastics.
Their new prototype was ready in late 2009, early 2010 — just in time for a trade show in Seattle. Their product received a lot of interest and within three years the company was as the fastest growing business in the aesthetics base. The dramatic increase in sales and revenue helped them reach their goal of being ready to sell within three years.
The sale with Alfian was finalized in 2014. However, they ended up working as the company’s sales and customer service departments; everything else had been taken over at a corporate level. Alfian made really bad business choices and the company suffered. Sales dropped by 60% before they gave TouchMD power over marketing and they were able to bring the company revenue back to where it had been when it had been originally sold.
Alfian lost so much money that they had to offer TouchMD back to the founders for repurchasing — and after nearly nine months of negotiations, TouchMD was repurchased in February 2017. Now the company is focusing on both real estate and medical fields, as well as modifying their original business plan. Smith and TouchMD are a true example for every business owner. Keeping the end-goal in mind, working hard and being flexible to adjustments in both product and demographic audience are things that can always help a business to succeed. That’s not to say that success is guaranteed — there’s no clear path to follow — but it will certainly help.
September MEETING RECAP
Bringing Cyber Warriors to Cedar City Written By Emily Oliver
John McGloughlin, the Founder and CEO of GuardSight, Inc., is no stranger to small college towns. “I grew up in a small town near the University of New Hampshire,” McGloughlin reminisces. Community pride, low crime, affordability, open spaces, no traffic, small government, and happiness are all benefits that remained in his memory throughout his 30-year career in technology; one that started “back when dinosaurs roamed the earth” he quips.
While living in the Los Angeles area in the early 2000s, McGloughlin realized that there was a prime opportunity to provide businesses with affordable cybersecurity services. There was never one specific moment that led to this epiphany, only experiences where he “[learned] about the various pain points corporations had regarding cybersecurity.” He just decided to act and founded GuardSight in 2009.
As the years went by and the company grew McGloughlin began to recall those small-town benefits. In 2018 he eventually decided the time was right to move the headquarters of GuardSight to a region similar to the surroundings of his childhood and found Cedar City, Utah. “Southern Utah is a beautiful place to live, and Cedar City is producing smart, trustworthy people that have a good work ethic and a value system that we desire at GuardSight. This place is a hidden treasure, and we’re excited to be here.”
GuardSight: About the Company GuardSight is a cybersecurity services company that provides its customers with comprehensive threat protection and incident response for the safeguarding of their critical assets. They use sophisticated technology and professional analysis to help all manner of businesses to protect their data and devices. Their ideal customer is a company that requires cybersecurity operational support. When asked to describe GuardSight’s value proposition, McGloughlin provided the following items: • Cybersecurity Operations — 24/7 cyber threat hunting and detection. • Cybersecurity Assessments — Asset vulnerabilities and attack surface evaluations • Cybersecurity Response — Rapid breach containment and digital forensics • Cybersecurity Consulting — Governance, risk & compliance consulting
The company employs 20 people, 30 percent of whom are located at the company’s Cyber Security Operations Center, known fondly as the CyberSOC, just west of downtown Cedar City. The company is aggressively pursuing the hiring of local talent as well as United States military veterans that live in the area or that are interested in relocating. “We are really proud of our GuardSight military personnel,” McGloughlin said. “GuardSight is committed to supporting our US military including providing opportunities when they finish their service obligation. Thanks for kicking butt — Hooah!”
McGloughlin explained GuardSight’s hiring policy in two phrases: virtue before talent, attitude before aptitude. While talent and experience are definite necessities, the company wants employees that are not only good at what they do but are also good people with drive and a solid, self-determined belief system. The core value system of the company is centered around employee performance and development. Regarding their performance, employees must create value, establish trust and intimacy with customers, and make certain that they produce results of the highest quality. They must also demonstrate their commitment to teamwork and that they are always learning from various circumstances. Dedicated to building elite ‘cyber warriors,’ as McGloughlin says, and producing top quality results the employees at GuardSight know that they have to be constantly vigilant in their duty to protect customer assets. They work towards their customers’ satisfaction 24/7 because the bad guys never sleep. It was evident when speaking with some of these cyber warriors that they all adhere to that code. Why Cedar City, Utah? When looking to relocate the company, many cities were considered, but, as McGloughlin mused, “there was just something about Utah, and specifically Cedar City, that just seemed to fit.” From the beginning, McGloughlin and the company’s HR Manager Kathy O’Neil were drawn to the sheer beauty of the state. The red rock mountains are a stark difference from the sandy beaches of Southern California.
The fact that Utah’s state and local governments are business-friendly was another plus for the GuardSight CEO. “The state government seems to care about prioritizing its resources towards increasing the productivity of its citizens and making good use of taxpayers hard earned money and that kind of atmosphere is one that I like.” Cedar City epitomizes this concept: unintrusive unless there’s something that disturbs the community in its entirety.
The cost of living in Utah is low compared to other states. It’s a metaphoric breath of fresh air. Relocating isn’t as hard of a decision because you can live comfortably without breaking the bank. “If you’re coming out of college now, you may have 30–40K in debt at a minimum. If you’re then looking at buying a house in California to start a family, you can’t buy a decent one for under a half-million dollars. If you bought that same house here in Cedar City, which you should not buy anyway because you probably can’t afford it, it would be really nice.”
Long-time employees feel this same way. Self-titled ‘jack of all trades’ Ethan Cudzilo has been with the company for approximately three years. Based in Los Angeles but soon relocating to Cedar City, Cudzilo expressed that this was such a smart move for the company because “you can set up the security operations center here and it would be cheaper than setting it up in California, New York City or Washington D.C.” In turn, Brendan Courtney, based in Boston, is thinking about his future both inside and outside the company. “When I move here it’s gonna be a lot less expensive for me to live. Just in general, it’s beautiful out here with so many views, and it’s really grown on me. The idea of coming out here, applying to a university for my Masters and then working here. It sounds really nice. Easy.”
GuardSight’s CEO believes there is the tremendous opportunity in terms of technological growth in Southern Utah and Cedar City in particular. McGloughlin stated, “You can visualize Cedar City being a tech corridor.” Of course, with that growth comes the need to hire more employees and Southern Utah University and Southwestern Technical College, both of which are located in Cedar City, will help supply the tech companies with smart and dedicated employees. While Cedar City may not yet be a technology hub, McGloughlin doesn’t care and insists, “We might be a little ahead of the curve but, as the Californian’s would say, we’re ready to catch that wave.”