With 25 years of technology sales and operations experience, CEO Gregg Smith is leading KoolSpan in mobile security and encryption.
Smith sat down with WashingtonExec to answer a few questions about mobile device security, named obstacles faced by entrepreneurs when starting their business and explained the best ways to raise capital in the Washington, D.C. area.
WashingtonExec: KoolSpan specializes in mobile device security… What are some precautions that I should take to keep information on my mobile device secure?
Gregg Smith: To keep your information secure, it’s important to not lose your mobile device. It’s especially important to keep track of your device and not leave it behind when you’re in a cab, on the Metro or on an airplane. If you do, it’s likely to be sold on the street and end up in the hands of organized crime that will then be able to steal your data. If you’re traveling abroad be careful not to download anything from a carrier. When traveling to China, I highly recommend purchasing a cheap, disposable phone because of the high risk of data loss.
In either case I would also suggest using some form of encryption for voice calls and text messaging.
WashingtonExec: What new technology most excites you and why?
Gregg Smith: The wireless carriers rolling out 4G services are creating amazing new devices from Samsung, Motorola, and Apple. The new RIM Blackberry OS 10 also looks impressive with its new features such as the flow and the virtual keyboard that will predict what words you are likely to type.
The new applications available with these networks and devices are revolutionary, including new mobile TV applications and Square for mobile devices. Mobile TV applications will make live TV more accessible on the go. The Square card reader device and application are really changing the world of commerce by enabling payments to be made through a mobile device.
I’m also looking forward to seeing what Facebook and Microsoft will do in mobile.
“The biggest barrier is not having access to capital. The second barrier is having the ability to develop a channel strategy and to get larger companies to embrace and sell your technology.”
WashingtonExec: In your opinion, what are the largest barriers to success for entrepreneurs and start-ups?
Gregg Smith: The biggest barrier is not having access to capital. The second barrier is having the ability to develop a channel strategy and to get larger companies to embrace and sell your technology. If these companies see value in your technology they can become a logical acquirer of your company.
WashingtonExec: What are the main sources of funding for new companies?
Gregg Smith: For a new company there are a number of ways to get funding. Something as simple as savings or taking out a second mortgage on your house is an option. Borrowing from friends and family is always another option. In the DC area there a number of new angel groups and early stage venture capitals like Blu Ventures, Active Angels and Fortify.vc. These groups can really assist new companies in the early stages of getting the company funded and may also help with strategy and execution. There is also the option to crowd source funding although I have never done that myself.
WashingtonExec: What factors should entrepreneurs take into account when evaluating funding options?
Gregg Smith: Don’t waste your time talking to investors who are not investing at your stage. In other words, if you are raising less than a $1 million don’t go to a growth stage VC or private equity firm. Once you find an investor, read the term sheet carefully and get a good early stage attorney to help you understand the terms. Network with other CEO’s who have raised capital; we are always willing to share advice.
WashingtonExec: What do you credit your success in raising capital for companies such as KoolSpan?
Gregg Smith: Raising capital in today’s environment is hard, and even though I have grown companies and had successful exits does not make it easy. What helps is surrounding yourself with a great team like we have at KoolSpan, solving a real problem and getting paying customers.
WashingtonExec: What is one piece of advice that you would provide to entrepreneurs just starting their capital raise?
Gregg Smith: Get the smartest money you can find!