Local company competes in Wall Street Journal's 'Startup of the Year' program
By Julie Bagman, firstname.lastname@example.org:00 AM EDT, September 11, 2013
In February 2010, Zuly Gonzalez and Beau Adkins founded Light Point Security in the basement of their Elkridge home.
In November 2012, they moved the company into University of Maryland,
Baltimore County's Cyber Incubator at the 71-acre bwtech@UMBC Research
and Technology Park on the campus just off Interstate 95.
Little did they know that as of Aug. 28, their company would be among
the 10 finalists vying for the title of Wall Street Journal Startup of
"It's very validating that everybody else sees us as being on the
same level as companies who have lots of funding and tons of employees,"
Gonzalez said of Light Point Security, for which the total staff is
herself and Adkins, her fiancé.
"There have been companies that have millions of dollars of funding
already and they've been cut," Adkins said. "It's says [Wall Street
Journal is] choosing based on substance versus flash.
"That's what encourages us to think we can stay in it longer," he said.
After receiving more than 500 applications, the newspaper launched
the five-month program June 24. Of the 24 startups selected to compete,
four were eliminated July 24, and 10 more were cut Aug. 28. The next
elimination round, scheduled for Oct. 16, will narrow the field to
"It's not really a contest," said Wall Street Journal Deputy Digital
Editor Gabriella Stern. "It's not like there's a prize. It's not like
they're going to get money or anything."
This is the first year for the program and Stern said the idea
stemmed from the organization's desire to expand video on its website
and increase its coverage of entrepreneurship.
"[It] is what we call an episodic video documentary," Stern said.
"Until early November, the startups get mentored by the mentors and
build their businesses. And our viewers get to see the mentoring
Pairing startups with mentors — such as Virgin Group founder Sir
Richard Branson and fashion designer Tory Burch — and filming the
companies as they perform assigned tasks provides the startups with
opportunities for growth, even though there is no prize for winning.
"The startups benefit greatly," Stern said. "They get the mentoring
from these great, great business people and venture capitalists."
Tasks thus far have included creating a video introduction for the
company, explaining how the company name and logo were chosen and
identifying a team or culture problem and coming up with a solution.
Gonzalez and Adkins said Light Point Security has seen a number of
benefits from the program. The pair is working with Kate Mitchell and
Sharon Wienbar, co-founders of California-based Scale Venture Partners,
and said their guidance has been invaluable.
"We've got people coming to us," she said. "We've had not just
customers, but investors have approached us and people looking for
employment. In that sense, being in the program has been very helpful."
Light Point Security created software that allows users to browse the
Web from a remote server, storing any and all information accessed on a
"We are really targeting businesses that deal with confidential or
sensitive proprietary information," she said, listing the financial,
banking and defense industries as primary customers.
"A virtual machine is a fake machine," Gonzalez said. "It's software but it acts like a real computer."
Their software provides two layers of virtual machines and an external server for extra security against viruses and malware.
The nice thing about virtual machines, she said, is that they are easy to create and just as easy to destroy.
"Any time the user is done browsing, when they close that browser, we
take that virtual machine and we destroy it. We wipe it like it never
existed," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said the couple wouldn't have known about the Wall Street
Journal program had they not moved out of their basement and become
members of UMBC's Cyber Incubator.
"Ever since we moved into the incubator, we've just been exposed to
this community of folks who have experience, who want to help us out and
we just find out about opportunities that we wouldn't have found out
about otherwise," Gonzalez said.
As the couple approaches the third elimination round, they are confident that their tiny company has potential to advance.
"We're dealing with companies who have a superstar founder and they
show up day one with $5 million of funding and they have 30 employees,"
Adkins said. "And then there's us two and we're on the same level as
To follow Light Point Security's progress, go to http://projects.wsj.com/soty/startup/light-point-security.