Their Story At Hacker Summer Camp | Las Vegas 2019 | Jay Kim, DataLocker

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A Founder Story: It Started In A Kitchen | By Jay Kim, DataLocker.jpeg

A Their Story interview with Marco Ciappelli & Sean Martin
Guest: Jay Kim, CEO and Founder, DataLocker

The organization telling us their story today is DataLocker.


I am starting to lose count of all the people in InfoSec that I discover that come from a background I didn’t expect. I have realized that sometimes—most of the time, in fact—life takes us through the winding road where forks are not a rarity. The challenge here is not to make the most rational decision—going for what seems to be the quicker, safer, or more remunerative path—instead, to make the decision you believe you’ll enjoy the most. Sometimes that path is not even close to the one you planned to follow when you started your journey.

Today’s story is partly about that. Sean and I connect with a former pharmaceutical IT professional and now-CEO of DataLocker, Jay Kim. While focused on IT problems, Jay found himself in the crosshairs of the Y2K phenomenon and got a real taste for what the “A” meant in the information security CIA Triad (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability). As a consequence of his choice to be in IT, Jay found himself on a business trip where he met an engineer with a novel idea about manufacturing secure external hard drives.

The idea turned into a patented, secure external hard drive device that was a platform-independent device with a built-in keypad used for authentication—meaning all the users had to do was plug it in and type in their passcode to access the data on the drive. With this, the company, DataLocker, was formed.

As with many typical technology startup stories, this one started in a kitchen—sorry no garage here. But the point is: just two years later, they were the first company in the world to offer a FIPS 140-2 validated external hard drive; for those familiar with this process you will know that this is no small feat.

There’s a decent amount of story told by Jay covering the years following their FIPS-validated product in 2009, and I would encourage you to listen to hear how the business was, founded and funded, how the team grew, and how the product line and overall solution set was enhanced.

However, there was a burning question that we wanted to explore—and Jay was kind enough to take the tough question head-on—which was: "didn’t the cloud destroy the external drive market?"

You might be surprised by the answer Jay gives. Suffice to say; there are several use cases and business scenarios where secure external drives are an absolute must, and we had a bit of a ‘wow’ moment, nodding our heads in agreement as those case studies were shared with us. 

Listen up. We think you will find some inspiring words here.