Medina Capital exec tackles issue of privacy, security in Startup Grind Miami talk

Photo:  Jason Ibarra interviews Adam Smith of Medina Capital at Startup Grind. Credit: Alec Schwartzman.

With Miami’s rise to prominence as a startup epicenter, entrepreneurs need to think about not only how to set themselves apart, but also how to protect their competitive advantages. Startup Grind Miami’s event this month at The LAB Miami sought to link local startups with resources to bypass the most-overlooked hurdle in their quests for success: security.

“At the end of the day, there is so much easy stuff that can be done to protect a company that isn’t because it is not viewed as a priority,” said Adam T. Smith, the featured speaker of the event and a partner at Medina Capital.

Smith believes startups need to focus on privacy, security and data liability. These lesser-discussed issues can quickly lead to a startup’s failure if not addressed early on, he said. Smith also highlighted the value of data, and the need to protect it.

“Don’t be intimidated by law firms; there are plenty of places to get legal advice,” Smith said. “Five hundred dollars now could save much more than that down the road.”

Smith, a Miami native, has more than 17 years of experience as a legal executive, providing companies with strategic advice. He urged startups to take the necessary precautions to ensure valuable data stays private.

The main reason startups choose to put security on the backburner is the lack of resources, Smith said.  However, there are ways to protect your business without breaking the bank, he said.

“The problem is you can’t do what every other corporation does because you cannot provide computers for every employee,” Smith said. “What you have to do is be cognizant of what people have access to, and set policies, even if you can’t enforce them initially.”

Ranked second in startup activity this year by the Kauffman Foundation, Miami has challenged conceptions that entrepreneurs need to move to New York or Silicon Valley to find success. In fact, with Knight Foundation-funded programs such as Startup Grind, these founders can make important connections right in Miami.

“[The goal of these events] is to create an opportunity for entrepreneurs to meet one another, and possibly find someone who can help them with their startup: a partner, the missing link in what they are trying to do,” said Jason Ibarra, the chapter director of Startup Grind Miami. “We try to inspire and educate, and let them learn from the mistakes and successes of others.”

Ibarra has seen firsthand the impact of the connections created at Startup Grind.

“We actually had someone come down from Fort Myers a couple of months ago, and they ended up moving down here and launching their startup,” Ibarra said. “They came to our anniversary party, and they met the instructor from Wyncode Academy. That led to the [academy’s] students building their product, and now they have raised $50,000 just during the building process.”

Outnix is the startup Ibarra referenced. The Wyncode pitch winner provides a platform for bar-goers that makes it easy to find the games they want to watch. Through Knight Foundation-sponsored events such as #WaffleWednesday at LiveNinja and the support of Wyncode Academy and its students, Outnix has raised enough funding to secure an office in Wynwood and begin launching its product.

For companies such as Outnix, Smith argues security is the next step to success. The common notion is that to protect data, companies need to give up either money or privacy. Smith’s talk educated the crowd with ways to maximize resources and extend privacy protection. After the talk, hopeful entrepreneurs were able to connect with others in the same position, and to share knowledge to help Miami thrive as one of the nation’s startup capitals.

Alec Schwartzman is an editorial intern for Knight Foundation. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @AMSchwartzman.

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