My name is Glen Day, CEO and founder of NVISNx, and I’ve been in the cybersecurity business for decades. I’m a retired Commander in the U.S. Navy, and I served as the first Chief Privacy Officer for Los Angeles County, along with several executive consulting positions. Most recently, I was a cybersecurity and privacy partner at Ernst & Young. I discovered that there’s a fundamental and systemic issue within the industry, where companies that have invested millions in the most advanced cyber controls available and have hired some of the best cyber and privacy talent available still experience security breaches. I started NVISNx to solve this pain point while taking a unique approach: we make everything asset-centric. The asset, in this case, is the data itself. By correlating enterprise data, the associated controls, and users’ behaviors, we transform cyber professionals from being reactive firefighters putting out data-breach blazes to being proactive data defenders preventing painful breaches before they occur. Our platform ensures a company’s “jewels'' (its most critical data) are properly protected. Our platform offers global, actionable views for business, privacy, and cybersecurity professionals to make more informed decisions on what data to protect and what to purge.
While a company’s most critical data is often the primary focus, we inevitably discover quite a bit of useless data stored within their systems. This junk data hinders the effectiveness of security controls due to its extreme volumes, which impairs the ability to identify critical data. But, more urgently, storing this junk is costing companies millions of dollars every year (as most companies hold onto this junk data forever, just in case). Candidly, being a data hoarder adds no value to the business. It’s an avoidable cost, especially in a time where many of our customers have had their budgets cut due to the pandemic. They've been left to wrongly believe that their only choice in cutting costs is reducing their talent headcount when they could actually recoup a good deal of money simply by purging unnecessary data. Storing this junk data also makes the company more vulnerable to breaches while increasing compliance efforts and operational costs. Businesses may also choose to delay strategic initiatives that could make the company stronger over time without realizing it is this data storage expense that is hindering cash available for other expansion. NVISNx’s rich data visualizations enable company leaders to dump the junk and make better business decisions. They can act on what to keep, what to dispose of, and how to better protect their most critical assets. When these data decisions can be made quickly and more definitively, jobs may be saved and enterprise costs and risks will be reduced.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
For me, entrepreneurship has been a lifelong journey. By serving in so many different roles, both as an operator/security professional as well as an advisor to some of the most influential companies in the world, I was able to gain a comprehensive understanding of the industry and the pain points experienced by organizations. It’s all about the data. This knowledge and these experiences motivated me to start NVISNx with some very talented team members.
Going into business for yourself is not for the meek or timid. It will change and/or challenge absolutely everything in your life, including your financial stability, your personal and professional relationships, and your mental health.
You see, most organizations have a variety of controls in place intended to protect their critical data. The problem often is, though, that those controls aren't aligned with all of the key aspects of critical data. As a result, cyber teams deal with several false alerts (or sometimes, no alerts at all) that data may be at risk. We’ve seen the challenges businesses have faced when trying to meaningfully communicate what data is important (and what data is not) to their IT and cybersecurity teams. Where should the data be stored? Who should have access? How do we reliably classify critical data so cyber controls can effectively monitor and contain it? All of these questions drove me and my partners to develop our innovative solution that helps businesses address these crucial questions. These are data-driven decisions. They are based on fact, not on gut instincts. Most importantly, with our platform, organizations can start seeing indicators of risk and compromise before the breach. While many cybersecurity professionals are skilled first responders after breaches occur, ideally, they want to get in earlier in the kill chain, spot the indicators that something bad is about to happen, and stop it before it can damage the company or its customers.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
While this is my fourth startup, the decision to start it was also probably one of the hardest ones I’ve had to make. To effectively build this company, I had to take a leap of faith and leave my very comfortable position as a partner with Ernst & Young. After careful deliberation, I decided to trust in myself and this platform.
Did I genuinely believe in my counsel to my customers? Did I honestly think I could build a solution that would apply to every industry in every country globally and be able to reap those rewards? At the end of the day, the answer was always yes. I understood the root issue I was working to resolve and had a strong understanding of what the platform needed to look like to deliver value to the variety of people who would be leveraging it. We knew exactly what needed to be done to help our customers tame their data.
This solution would need to be user-friendly by ensuring the interface was intuitive, easy to use, and highly responsive. It had to be adaptable for IT, technical engineers, HR, finance, and accounting teams. We would be dealing with billions of files and extreme amounts of data scattered across enterprises, so the platform needed to rapidly deliver results and support complex visualizations to maintain user interest and provide actionable intel. This was a huge scope of work for our proposed solution, but it did not daunt me.
For me, being an entrepreneur means meeting the needs of all audiences and proactively addressing a variety of use cases while also meeting personal and professional goals. I knew creating NVISNx would allow me to do all of this, and more.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
NVISNx is doing well. We've released some highly successful pilots with some very big companies across several different market sectors. Truthfully, like many others, March 2020 sparked major concern for us, as we had just finished the first release of our product when the pandemic hit. Everybody was frozen — our customers who were looking to move forward with us saw their budgets decimated, and our prospective investors watched many of their other investments falter. When customers cannot generate their projected revenues, they aren’t able to make big investments in new solutions. However, our true differentiator (protecting prize data while purging the junk) was revealed to us through this process and became our entryway to many of our current customers.
As IT budgets were broadly and unexpectedly reduced across industries, this jump received attention. We saw hospitals, major media houses, and tech companies effectively have their cheese moved. They had to rapidly reallocate funds for critical measures and look for cost savings in places they’d never had to before. When we were able to show (and prove) to these businesses that we could save them millions simply by getting rid of data that was more of a liability than an asset, we were embraced by even a business’s top executives. NVISNx was able to deliver users an unexpected, material windfall from cost savings, up to tens of millions recurring annually. It wasn't just a one-time hit. This is something that can be realized on an ongoing contingency basis. Meaning: no upfront costs, and within 30 days, we can prove to you: (1) you're probably storing a lot of junk, (2) this junk is not serving you well, (3) you can defensively eliminate this data without any harm to the company, and (4) you’ll see substantial, net-new ROI from that cost-saving data optimization.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’ve learned the importance and direct correlation of having a clear message in closing new business. For those of us at NVISNx, this messaging needs to be compelling and convey that data management and cybersecurity need to be more collaborative efforts. Our platform is helping our customers manage a large, complex problem that nobody feels truly accountable for. The cyber teams are accountable for the controls, but if the business can't tell them what data is important, how can they be held responsible for protecting data that the business owners were unable to identify as valuable? Most business teams are busy generating revenue, creating innovative solutions, and keeping the organization operating — they don't have the time to inventory and classify data on an ongoing basis. But, if all of these different teams can leverage a real solution to better communicate, collaborate and identify what data matters most to the company’s functioning success, then the process of managing and protecting that data throughout its lifecycle is no longer a daunting challenge.
Since there’s often no single owner of corporate data, it can be a complicated sale in some cases. A company must understand that data optimization is a collective initiative that requires strategic cross-team collaboration. NVISNx addresses enterprise risk and industry compliance, and our solution empowers teams to become corporate heroes by identifying viable cost-saving opportunities, wherever possible. These initiatives are at the core of what every leadership team should be doing. Our platform breaks down complicated communication barriers and allows these different teams to see a centralized, global view of all their data at once. They can then jointly decide what data to protect, how to protect it, and what to purge to benefit the growth and prosperity of the company.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We leverage GitHub and JIRA to support the complex, collaborative, and design components of our solution. We test the different connections and overall connectivity to the various repositories we support through AWS and Azure. From a customer relationship management perspective, HubSpot has been a great tool. We can track our sales pipeline, identify which funnels are moving as expected and which need to be optimized to improve results. HubSpot also helps us identify issues and/or bottlenecks, such as where/when certain accounts may seem to be stuck.
Like much of the country, we’ve also been leveraging Zoom to collaborate through the pandemic. Most recently, we’ve been working with our phenomenal marketing team, NRPR Group, to build out explainer videos that we released on YouTube. We track the marketing activity and user engagement to see what's resonating with the market. We take our own data-driven advice and leverage these insights to refine and improve our efforts on an ongoing basis.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Personally, the biggest source of motivation is that our solution has the right product-market fit, which has been validated by my extensive network of business advisers and associates. The deep customer relationships I’ve built over time have afforded me the luxury of conferring with C-suite leaders of some of the biggest and most esteemed companies in the world.
I'm able to get counsel from several different professionals and receive a very rounded view of what works well, what else I should consider, and what I should cease altogether. Having access to that level of talent and expert insights on an almost on-demand basis has been invaluable.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
First, make sure that you sincerely want to be an entrepreneur. Going into business for yourself is not for the meek or timid. It will change and/or challenge absolutely everything in your life, including your financial stability, your personal and professional relationships, and your mental health. You will spend a tremendous amount of time dreaming, grinding, and isolating to build the company (if you do it right). It can be deeply rewarding but is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Second, you should pursue a raw, objective review of your big-money concept before diving too deeply into its development. If the value is not easily seen or resonating with other industry professionals and investors, you may need to reconsider your solution and your approach.
Make sure that you are meant to be an entrepreneur — that making big bets and building businesses is in your DNA. And, once that is confirmed, be sure that you're putting your bet on the right solution.
Where can we go to learn more?
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