Looking at the frequently in-demand services of cybersecurity companies, Art Jacoby sees a major growth opportunity for Maryland.
“We have a world-class industry that can be a lot larger with a little bit of help,” he said.
A new nonprofit focused on cybersecurity has a single goal: increase sales for Maryland cybersecurity companies.
The Cybersecurity Association of Maryland is running a program that looks to help introduce cybersecurity companies to companies that could be potential customers.
The Buy MD Cyber initiative includes a searchable website that provides a directory of cybersecurity companies in the state, as well as a list of resources and blog posts.
The program will also hold events designed to bring cybersecurity companies face-to-face with customers, including a regular monthly meetup that will rotate in different areas of the state and pitch events.
Stacey Smith, who previously worked as Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development Cyber Community Manager, is the organization’s sole employee running operations.
Since it is a nonprofit, the organization cannot receive a financial cut of any business that is done as a result of the meetings, Jacoby said. Specifically, it’s a 501(c)(6), which is the exemption often used for chambers of commerce. Jacoby is also a managing partner of Maryland Cyber Investment Partners.
The organization will look to already existing chambers of commerce and other business alliances to identify companies in need of cybersecurity.
Instead, the organization is focused on more broadly growing the state’s cybersecurity sector, which is buttressed by NSA headquarters at Fort Meade and other federal government outposts. The area has no shortage of technologists leaving those startups and creating innovative companies, but Jacoby said he constantly hears that they want more opportunities to get in front of companies.
“At the simplest of levels, where this came from was the No. 1 express desire of cybersecurity companies in Maryland is sales intros,” Jacoby said.
At a breakfast meeting to introduce the organization, Raven Data Technologies President Matt Johnson vouched for the fact that he wants opportunities to get in front of more companies who could utilize his company’s managed IT services.
“The hardest task I have is getting in front of a new prospect,” he said.
The cybersecurity insiders acknowledge that part of increasing those interactions is educating firms on how to explain what they do to companies who could buy their services.
At the same time, however, major hacks in industries like healthcare (Anthem), retail (Target), entertainment (Sony) and finance (JPMorgan Chase) are making cybersecurity an increasingly pressing priority for businesses, especially as regulatory requirements increase. In that sense, Jacoby believes it’s a matter of Maryland getting its share of the business from larger companies.
Through increased sales, the organization believes Maryland can further plant its flag as a center for cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is frequently cited as a vehicle for economic growth. For instance, a 2013 Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore report said 20,000 jobs were open in the region.
“This is a multibillion-in-sales and thousands-of-jobs competition,” Jacoby said. “We’re competing with Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin, and we want to win.”