Sometimes it takes a long time but maintain constant movement towards the goal, no matter how small or slow, and you eventually get there.
Tracy Reed, the C0-Founder and CEO of Copilotco, Tracy Reed is a lifelong technology enthusiast who got his introduction to cyber security at San Diego State University before going on to system administration adventures throughout the dot-com boom, then focusing exclusively on risk and security.
Before founding Copilotco, Reed served as a Security Engineer for The Enterpirse Cloud Company in San Diego. There, he worked on implementing security controls for PCI, FedRAMP, ISO27000, HIPAA, and other compliance initiatives. Previously, he was the System Administrator in charge of PCI Compliance for Edirect Publishing
Where did the idea for Copilotco come from?
The idea for Copilotco came from a consulting client who asked us to help them out with PCI compliance. We evaluated other service providers who all fell short of the client’s needs. They did not ask the right questions or do the proper research to figure out what the client really needed. They also did not offer a complete security program. That’s when we decided that was an important service to be offered in a growing market.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day begins with a review of current headlines and security news. Then I take a look at our project calendar and ticket systems to review the various upcoming milestones and timely events in the security programs we are running and coordinate logistics accordingly. We have the usual meetings, conference calls, etc. but try to keep them to a minimum and stick to an agenda. I make it productive by staying focused on the tasks at hand, doing my best to avoid distractions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Persistence and continuous execution. Sometimes it takes a long time but maintain constant movement towards the goal, no matter how small or slow, and you eventually get there.
What’s one trend that excites you?
A growing awareness of security issues and the need for a properly run risk management program.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Constant research and never-ending learning. Particularly in my chosen field, the daily news headlines actually matter. Whether it’s a new intrusion technique, software vulnerability, or a new technology which brings risks, I work hard to be aware of these things. Every day involves a look at many sources of information and headlines.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The world is a much broader place than you can currently imagine with opportunities that you’ve never even heard of. Go explore broadly and find them!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Sometimes it’s better to roll your own. I notice that most people in business prefer to buy canned IT solutions. The system administrators and managers love this because whenever something goes wrong with it they’ve got somewhere to “point the finger.” CIO’s like this because they buy into the idea that because something cost a lot of money it’s “enterprise grade.” But often these solutions fail to live up to their promises because your problem is unique and the solution they use is too general. Or sometimes the problem is very general and can easily be solved with off-the-shelf components. I’m not saying anyone should write their own operating system or word processing program from scratch. Only that we should be a little more careful in how we evaluate the tradeoff in “build vs buy,” as too often we undervalue building and the fringe benefits it provides.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Stay current. Don’t let yourself fall behind in technology or anything else. This is especially important in technology. If you are a technology entrepreneur and you don’t have a side programming project going on, no matter what it is, you are falling behind. Make the time.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Help other people out. Throw them a bone every now and then. We aren’t stingy with our knowledge even when there isn’t an obvious immediate reward. People remember when you got them out of a jam and will come back to you later.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Once upon a time I was very focused on VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol, a method for taking analog audio signals and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet.). But the VOIP market very quickly became saturated and had a lot of unchangeable legacy technical challenges. So I pivoted. Don’t be afraid to pivot! I had to make three major pivots to get where I am now.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Recycling laptop batteries (which typically contain 18650-type lithium ion cells) into portable or emergency power sources. Quite often 1 out of 6 cells in a laptop battery pack fails. This renders the whole battery pack useless and the remaining five perfectly good cells go to the
landfill or recycler or wherever. If someone could disassemble those battery packs and turn those good cells into larger power banks they would have something akin to the Tesla Powerwall. There is already a hobby industry successfully doing this. Just search for “DIY powerwall” on the web or YouTube.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
$100 on flowers for my beautiful wife celebrating an important personal anniversary of hers (not our marriage).
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. A fun and nostalgic (read it, you’ll see what I mean) look into how virtual reality, cyber space, and gaming culture could all come together to make for a very interesting future.
What is your favorite quote?
“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” – Possibly Buddha Siddhartha Guatama Shakyamuni (but just as likely not)
- Sometimes it takes a long time but maintain constant movement towards the goal, no matter how small or slow, and you eventually get there.
- Help other people out. Throw them a bone every now and then. We aren’t stingy with our knowledge even when there isn’t an obvious immediate reward. People remember when you got them out of a jam and will come back to you later.
- Stay current. Don’t let yourself fall behind in technology or anything else.