With news of a major breach at Equifax in the headlines, planning for DC CyberWeek seems particularly timely.
To be fair, CyberScoop, part of the D.C.–based tech media company Scoop News Group, planned for the mid-October affair because October is National Cyber Security Awareness month. However, with a data breach that’s impacted potentially 143 million consumers, Greg Otto, Managing Editor for CyberScoop, sees how the fallout emphasizes the urgency of their cause.
“We put too much faith in institutions that they’re protecting our information,” Otto explained. “We’re going to come to a point where just as a citizen in America, as a citizen online, you’re going to need to understand how these systems work.”
Understanding how these systems work doesn’t necessarily mean running out to grab a graduate degree. Gaining basic knowledge in cyber security can mean simple things like brushing up on password management, understanding if that https:// site is actually secure. There’s also knowledge to be gained at the free week of events during DC CyberWeek.
From October 16-20, DC CyberWeek will host talks, panels, receptions and even a startup pitch competition hosted by Eastern Foundry.
“We want to bring people together in order to figure out some way so that stuff doesn’t happen as frequently as it is right now,” Otto explained.
While that goal may seem broad, Otto and the CyberScoop team believe that their success hinges on their ability to bring people together and form sustainable relationships in the cybersecurity community.
After 54 hours of competition among seven teams at Eastern Foundry, three startups emerged as winners last weekend at Startup Weekend DC: Civic Impact Edition. However, their journeys to success weren’t without a few hurdles. After the event, members of some of the winning teams provided some insight on what it’s like to launch a company over three days.
It starts with a team, and an idea for the business. For the team of cofounders that included Tambra Raye Stevenson, Peter Boyd and Tim Nguyen, identifying a singular business plan to work on presented a challenge right away. They pitched Cottage Foodie, a virtual local farmer’s market that for customers to view the food available, pre-order, pay online, and pick up orders in person.
From there, it’s time to start building. Grand prize winner RecruitHer detects gendered language in job postings and provides alternatives to attract more female applicants by using natural language processing and machine learning methods. The team of founders—including Hratch Sofian, Natalie Olivo, Robert Chandler, Yurani Sandoval, Belen Sanchez, Tracy King, and Evann Smith—had a clear takeaway for finding success at a Startup Weekend competition.
“[You must] clearly identify the value proposition of your company/product in a single sentence as early as possible,” explained Smith, Founder and Chief Data Scientist. “If you can do this, then the problem you are solving should be clear and direct your path to monetization.”