3 Tips from Paula Long about data discovery and startup success


What’s your company’s most valuable possession? It’s not your office, the computers you use daily or your employees – your team isn’t a possession, after all. The most critical asset for the success of your company is your data. However, many organizations remain unsure how to organize, use and protect their most sensitive information.

Paula Long, DataGravity CEO, recently spoke with the New Hampshire Business Review (NHBR) about the growing need for companies to identify and secure sensitive data, plus her tips for identifying a market need and building a startup in response. Below are a few takeaways from the conversation.

Data security incidents can happen to anyone

Most companies are familiar with the security risks that arise when an employee clicks a phishing link in an email or opens an attachment from an unfamiliar source. However, many IT managers are less familiar with risks hidden in unstructured data on their servers, or those created by employees or contractors who expose sensitive data to insecure networks due to carelessness or malice.

To protect data, you need to understand the people, content, activities and time associated with it. The starting point for any data security or compliance plan should concern understanding who, what, where, when and why data is being accessed. With that baseline information, you can start creating rules to safely manage and provide access to sensitive content.

In any industry, flexibility, simplicity and active listening enable startup success

Paula shared insights with NHBR from throughout the course of her career. In every stage, a few central themes were present: the flexibility to adapt in a changing market, a focus on solving complex problems with straightforward solutions and the ability to see through a customer or employee’s lens. In any space, entrepreneurs and startup leaders need to put their customers’ preferences and needs first – and pivot quickly when those needs change. As Paula explains:

“When you start a company you’ll have 100 ideas, so you have to test those ideas. Once you’re in a company, you have to have a strategy and you have to keep checking that the assumptions, your strategy, are still correct and that it still matters… [It’s] easy to stop working, move on to another, but you need to be flexible – you have to watch for shifts, and you have to predict the shift before you go too far…You have to come out with something people want before they know they want it. It’s a little tricky.” 

Read more advice from Paula about smart product development.

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Cheryle Cushion

Cheryle Cushion

Cheryle has more than 20 years of experience in developing corporate marketing strategies and executing integrated marketing programs that drive strong customer engagement via direct and indirect sales channels. She has held various marketing leadership roles in several successful companies including Infinio Systems, Raptor Systems, Interliant, Seahorse BioScience, Dell and most notably EqualLogic which was purchased by Dell in 2008 for $1.4B.