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David Fairman, SixThirty: “data is the key driver of future value”

As technology, data, and socio-economic forces are transforming the composition and competitiveness of incumbent players, more companies choose to invest in promising tech startups.

As the digital technologies sector hasn’t reached its apex, many professionals have various ideas on how to improve it further. However, the competition and obscurity of the industry prevent many successful entrepreneurs from entering the market. At this point, tackling the lack of awareness and cybersecurity knowledge and support are the aggressors that need to be eliminated.

Companies produce various cybersecurity products that help us by hiding our real location or allowing us to access content globally. But they all started out somewhere. To find out what a startup needs to succeed, we interviewed David Fairman, Venture Partner and CISO-in-Residence of SixThirty Ventures.

How did the idea of SixThirty come about? What has the journey been like since your launch in 2013?

SixThirty was conceived from the idea that revenue is the most important form of capital for startups and with the idea of bringing together leading incumbents and startups for their mutual benefit. As we’ve grown over time we’ve proven out that this model is one that works, and that can truly drive competitiveness and returns.

Can you introduce us to what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?

SixThirty invests in enterprise (B2B) startups at the intersection of privacy, wealth, and health. We believe that data is the key driver of future value, and to build a top startup, privacy, trust, and security must be at the heart of the offering. We bring our network of experts, including both incumbents and practitioners, to our founders who are building solutions in these areas.

What do you usually look for in a startup? What industries are your main fields of focus at the moment?

We’re looking for big, bold ideas with really impressive founding teams who are solving critical problems. For us, we consider the team, technology, traction, market opportunity, and the ability for SixThirty to add value. From the perspective of a theme, we believe that technology, data, and socio-economic forces are transforming the composition and competitiveness of incumbent players, and the worlds of finance, insurance, health, and privacy are colliding. We invest in companies that are transformational at the intersection of privacy, wealth, and health.

What are the best practices companies of all sizes should follow to maintain smooth and secure remote operations?

For security, there are three things: Firstly, an organization must know where its critical data is and who has access to it. Then, they should understand the vulnerabilities that impact this data and users. And finally, they should know what they are doing about these vulnerabilities.

Operational resiliency is also key. Assume that you will be compromised and ensure that you have a resiliency plan that allows you to absorb the impact on your operations, covering both the ability to recover the data and to maintain digital services.

In your opinion, what cybersecurity details are often overlooked by new business owners?

The cybersecurity risks are similar to the challenges outlined above, whereas as a starting point, a company must identify critical data & control access, and understand and address vulnerabilities. In addition, new companies often overlook software supply chain risk and don’t consider how data is protected and shared with third parties.

Even though adopting innovative technology can enhance one’s business operations, why do you think certain organizations still hesitate to try out new solutions?

Any change can bring about new opportunities, but change also introduces risks – whether by potentially compounding existing risk or introducing new risks. Technology is no different and in the world of digital, the impact can be far-reaching, not just for the organization but for their customers. Therefore, companies want to ensure that the new innovations they introduce will not increase their risk. This takes time, effort, and resources, which must be prioritized against other competing priorities.

Talking about the future, what technology do you hope to see emerge in the next few years?

With the velocity and sophistication of the threat landscape growing at an exponential rate, there is not one piece of tech needing to emerge but more broadly, we need continual development, advancement, and integration of AI and automation in all cyber and privacy-related technologies.

Organizations are struggling to keep pace with their adversaries, and these adversaries are exploiting these capabilities to get ahead in all areas. We need to do the same to stay ahead of the threat: whether this is securing critical infrastructure, protecting against ransomware, or ensuring secure code, or beyond. And we need to do this at pace and at scale.

What does the future hold for SixThirty?

SixThirty has grown and evolved tremendously in the last 9 years, and we believe we’re just getting started. The intersection of our health, wealth, and privacy, the primacy of data for future growth, and the fact that the future of technology is dependent on strong security & privacy create room for big, bold ideas.

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