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TechVibe Talks to Arch Access Controls and INeedaShot.org

Interview by Audrey Russo and Jonathan Kersting

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TechVibe Radio is back on air at ESPN 970 AM every Saturday at 8:00 a.m. from the Huntington Bank Studio.

 

We've got a heaping helping of innovation coming right at you!

We are featuring Martin Shepherd, Founder and CEO of Arch Access Control. Arch specializes in identifying cyber risk, creating a plan that prioritizes those risks, and providing solutions necessary to remediate risk.

We also have an update on INeedaShot.org. The website spun out of the Pittsburgh Civic Hackathon this winter and it is connecting people to COVID-19 vaccines.?
 

Transcription:

The good stories just keep on coming. And they keep on multiplying. Remember, a couple weeks ago, we had Matthew Clark on he was the winner with his team of the Pittsburgh civic hackathon. Right? He did the really cool Kovaxx, what was called at the time, so we get the website help people find vaccines. It's such an important thing right now. Right?

Right. Because it's like roulette.

Yes. You don't know when you're gonna get an appointment. Or if you get it, you just keep spinning.

Absolutely. It's been crazy. But as the Pittsburgh Tech Community often always does, has stepped up to really help move this thing even more forward. I mean, originally, we saw CGI stepping up and other folks to kind of make this thing gel and come together well, it's happening even more, it's now turned into, I need a shot, which is super cool. And I got to get to get the latest update from Matthew Clark and a bunch of folks across Pittsburgh's tech sector that have joined up to help him really spread this thing up. I cannot wait for everyone to hear the story. And I was able to grab the story just last week. And so I think we should give it a spin Audrey and let our listeners hear about some of the great work happening Pittsburgh's tech sector, what do you think?

Don't go away?

Absolutely. We're right back. After this awesome podcast with everything about Ineedashot.org. I feel like a pantheon of tech superstars has been convened to make Ineedashot.org do what it's supposed to do. So let's talk about like, Where is the status of the site? Now? No, it's up and running. Give us some of the key dates and features of it. That if you could, yeah, sure. So, um, you know, there's a lot of different things that we can talk about. But obviously, one of the biggest things is, you know, we definitely want a site that's, you know, accessible, no matter what kind of device sron including mobile having that responsiveness, accessibility, that you would need for that. A lot of systems out there don't have that, like, it's just incapable to, to use it on a phone, because it's just a jot form, or, you know, a Google forum, and they haven't done the right, you know, CSS formatting. And then other things that we're talking about future implementations of the MVP. One is most certainly being able to select the distribution center, you would, or sites that you have access to accessibility to, that's a key feature. A lot of people they say they can get it, but then they realize it's too far away. So we have a whole group of people that are really being excluded from getting the vaccine on a timely basis. Right?

Correct. Correct. So you know, and that's huge. I mean, if you rely on public transportation, you know, you take a bus line, whatever the case may be like, it's great. Yeah, maybe you could sign up at the Rite Aid. That's right next to you or the Walgreens, it's right next to you. But basically, from what I've heard a lot of these systems you sign up, and then they're like, Oh, well, no problem. You just have to go to Erie.

My helicopters down, so I won't be able to go there.

Right, right. Yeah. So that's definitely a really important feature. And another feature to solve some of this, you know, I guess, you know, systemic issues that exists in the current systems is actually allowing someone else to manage your account. So basically, if you're not tech savvy, if you don't have access to the internet or a computer, basically, you can designate someone else to manage your account for you. sign you up and kind of you know, just like if you would have a caretaker or right about that, by default, it seems like Because I knew what to put some stuffing up to help their parents navigate the system. So it's like, this is a great feature to have. Correct. And I would say the only issue with that is, is that that's not actually built into the systems that that exist, which is very, in my opinion, easily could. And so basically, it's someone else representing that person without saying that they're doing that, and that, that kind of creates some issues. Also surrounding that, you know, there, there's also recognize people that don't have that extra person in their life. Right. And, you know, you see a lot of people like forming these groups around that these, you know, Community and Social Service Organizations trying to find these people. So one of the other things we wanted to offer was a paper form option. For those who don't, you know, don't have the capability again, using the web, right. And basically, these paper forms could just be printed out by these social community organizations, they're filled out by your the individuals, and then get them back to them, and they can enter them into the system. Very cool, man, you're, you're leaving no stone unturned to ensure people have a way to access the vaccine. And this seems like, obviously, we're seeing lots of different systems, lots of different kinds of sites popping up, you know, obviously, to address this, but I feel like you're just kind of working at this higher level, to a certain degree.

Right, and I applaud all the other systems, like basically, the whole thing is this is reactionary, and there's different ways that you can react right to what has happened. I, you know, and looking at the problem, I just looked at, looked at it from a root cause, you know, what's the root cause of this problem, and the root cause of the problem is that we don't have, you know, one place where you can go and just take care of this, right? It's just, it's dispersed all over the place. Now, there are other solutions out there, and I applaud them very much. So because they're very much just as neat as what we're doing. Because they're doing the best that they can with what exists, right, what we're aimed at solving is solving the problem for good, exactly. It's a good point, the idea that moving forward, there's gonna be need for this system, whether we need to get a third inoculation around this, or some other type of pandemic pops up. Now you've created this framework that can easily be plugged into the next issue that didn't eat it's right. Right. Um, and so some of the other things is basically building category prioritization, you know, so basically, no matter what category and you could be in category two, you can sign up on our system in the database just prioritizes. You already, so you don't have to wait. You don't have to wait on like, what I think in PA, we have the Your turn, right, that would that's already built into the system. So rather than MCs, and I'm a little confused as to why we can't do that already. I mean, it wouldn't, wouldn't require too much extra programming, but it would just be, again, more stuff from the database side as to where they would fall and fall in line. So yeah, I mean, I, I could keep going like, what more do you want? This? Oh, no, no,

I think I think just the idea now that you're a Pittsburgh is stepped up, you got guys like Andrew and Gene. And these other folks they listed off, they're like, wow, like, we want to make sure we can get the right resources to help you build this thing up. I mean, does this surprise you, like after the hackathon building this up knowing that like Pittsburgh would rally behind you like this, in order to make this thing happen?

I honestly, you know, like I said, the first interview, I had no intentions. It was I just had an idea that I was very passionate about that. That I just wanted to, you know, I that's the issue that I wanted to address. And then I found out that my passion was a lot of other people's passions. And in many cases, because they were affected by it just the same. Absolutely. So that's where, after I saw it happen during the hackathon, and how passionate people were are about working on the project, because they've been affected by this issue so much. I'll have to say no, I wasn't surprised that people rally behind it. Because if people were so passionate, just in the hackathon for eight hours to get something out. There was already live online workable demo. I wasn't I was, but I will say I was surprised in the amount of people that responded. They were like yes, we want to be involved.

Absolutely great stuff. Let's change the conversation over to Gene and to Andrew because I love like I said these are some some folks where I think about anyone that knows tech. It's these guys right here. And I'm just so excited to hear about this. This this new nonprofit. It's coming together because this is had the first project of many that have been coming down the line that they're going to be able to line up the right talent and resources for. So Andrew, tell me more about your your passion about being able to step up and help out in something like this and how you look forward to be part of the the tech servants. You know, it's fascinating during these times, like, we see a lot of different problems out in society where if we plan ahead, like we've learned a lot in the Site Reliability Engineering, about how to scale systems, how to analyze failures from previous, you know, we do the analysis, and figure out what we need to do so we can prevent those problems again, and we've been, you know, in the past good about evangelizing these things within the tech industry, but like, there's so many needs, outside of, you know, tech that can this can also be applied to, and I'm interested, I'm super excited to kind of share and participate in that. So like, can we can we solve it here? Can we solve it? You know, when when, when Texas had the electrical grid failures, right? can we learn from that? can we learn from all these different issues that we're having in society, and applied kind of the same mindsets and methods and learnings in that space and improve what we're doing across? You know, both locally here in Pittsburgh, as well as you know, in a larger space?

Absolutely. And that's why I'm glad you're in Pittsburgh now. Man, that's so cool. You got to stay here for a while you had to like gene be here for 30 years?

Yeah, we actually live almost on the same street.

That's awesome, man. Very cool. So Gene, obviously, I know, you're just super passionate about helping out and you're one of those. It's always given back and so forth. You tell me what really pulled at your heartstrings around this. I mean, obviously, you know, Matt pretty well, and everything. But what else? Is it about this, that that's like, no, this is the time for Pittsburgh tech to step up and really align its smartest women and men and solve some of these pressing issues that we have today.

Right? So yeah, obviously, you know, we've, I've been helping and, you know, I've been involved in a lot of nonprofit kind of philanthropic projects here in Pittsburgh, but this is, you know, kind of special because of like Andrew said, you know, we've had this pandemic, and, you know, we have this issue with people not able to get the vaccine, and, you know, it's still kind of a problem, you know, a lot of people are still, you know, kind of left behind, and, you know, they cannot get the vaccine, like, there's actually a group of people and like Facebook, there's like 30,000 people that are trying to help each other, you know, to get a vaccine and posting all kinds of different links and a reason. So, obviously, it's still an issue. And, you know, we formed this a nonprofit, tax urban society to help with other problems that definitely popping up like we've talked about, even unemployment for state of da the system is totally outdated. And we have actually people that are affected by it, they can't even get on, get unemployment right now. So right, and, you know, just like, you know, all this, yeah, that's how the issues like was a grid or even voting. You know, there's any, there's a lot of civic issues that tech can help. So this, this nonprofit will address, you know, many, many different projects that can pop up from but you know, from a volunteer standpoint.

Great stuff, always great to talk to people. Absolutely. And they all want to solve every problem. That's no problem that comes to the forefront, boom, you can find someone who's working on it.

I tell you what, on Tech vibe radio we get to talk to Pittsburgh's coolest people, people with energy that I can't even fathom in match passion that's just through the roof. And we got just an example in front of us right now with Martin Shepherd of Arch Access cCntrol, man, so glad to have him here with us today. He's like a blast of positive energy. We need that on the second day.

Wait a second. You are saying someone else has more energy than you? Yeah.

This dude's gonna crash.

I will. I will try. But I may tire myself out, try and try and match. But thank you. 

So happy to have you on the show on the show today, because you're building something really cool here in Pittsburgh. And you can be doing this anyplace in the world really. And you chose Pittsburgh to be your home for this. And we're excited to explore this with you today.

We're bringing on Martin, aka Zig. Yeah.

ZIG. It's gonna stick.

It's a name our organization has adopted for home. Yes. Imprinted in him forever. I'm gonna get the tattoo.

So hey, listen, let's, let's talk about you and your country. Jonathan, nice. entry point. You are not originally from Pittsburgh.

I'm not originally from Pittsburgh, I'm in Ohio, and also born in Hamilton, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, between Cincinnati and Dayton. have lived in Michigan and Florida, and then Michigan again. And then came to Pittsburgh in 2012.

So here you are, and tell us what you've been up to.

Um, so I'm a lawyer, by trade is my background, I left the practice of law a couple years ago, to pursue the security world and security business really, initially was exploratory, or you're trying to find the space the niche. Obviously, people you can always get in sell services, people consulting expertise. But then I think there's something in me, whatever it is, that wants to find the solution and wants to find automation and wants to scale. And really through a little bit of trial and error through my relationships and network and just experimentation. found that within the space of cybersecurity compliance, there are some things some troubling headwinds ahead. There's number one, 1 million worker deficit in cybersecurity walls in the US economy, which is daunting for everyone who has something digital to protect, it's tough to find out, right, and the only competitor to have to get it's getting bigger, professionally bigger. And then number two is the Department of Defense, particularly, but then I think the entire sort of spectrum of sectors and industries are starting to look at, hey, we've got supply chain supply chain multiplies and expands our the attack surface that we're vulnerable to how do we go into supply chain and protect things. So the Department of Defense is really looking at it as a regulatory measure, and requiring third party compliance from vendors in the defense industrial base. So regulation says, hey, you've got to do this, or you can't bid on any on any of our contracts in the future. And I found that to be the starting point. And I think the god standard will start to spread out to other sectors of the economy. So what we are doing is putting sort of pushing our chips into the defense industrial base, and into what is called the cmmc, which is the Defense Department's supply chain cyber security standard. And creating a platform that makes it easy for small and mid market companies to tackle their compliance, just through some automation through some plain language of technical controls, and then connecting those people with a marketplace of solutions that they can bid into. So it offers them some ability to cost control, offers them some automation, so that they can forego some of those costs that are relative to consulting fees and that sort of thing, when you're going into it. Compliance situation.

If I'm wanting to use your service, where might I be in terms of the list of problems? And why?

Where might you be in the list of problems? Geez, like, most small companies are, you know, you got an IT third party IT company may be involved, maybe you have a single person who's running it internally. And your list of problems, probably, it probably runs the gambit, right, like password management, email security, endpoint management, incident, event management, you probably don't have much of any of that stuff in place. You may be in a Microsoft shop. So you may be able to configure some of that stuff with your IT person, you're not paying them to do that, number one, and then number two, the IT person is probably not a security expert. I mean, so those those two worlds, they can cross or they can intersect. But generally speaking, they're not the same. And it's not typical that your small and mid mid cap businesses are looking at security as a necessity. It's a cost center item, right? And so what we're trying to do, particularly in the compliance space, is just say, look, you don't have the experts. You don't need to be an expert. The guy who's driving the forklift can come in here, and hit a button, access some automation, and then answer some pretty simple questions that we've created plain language adaptation, from technical controls to, and then we can connect you with the things that you need to close the gaps in your system and bring you to a level of hygiene.

Okay, so there's a lot I mean, that's really all of our world. And since the pandemic, I know that we had the western Pennsylvania ag Attorney General on our show, Jonathan, remember that? 

And he was talking about some of the atrocities that were happening right in the beginning of COVID, in terms of breaches, and, you know, ransomware, and, you know, you can go down the list, and he said, it really escalated, during that period of, particularly at the beginning, it escalated with all these people bringing their stuff home and, and, you know, who knows what goes on?

Yeah, it's, it's, it's a bad scene you couldn't ever imagine a worse sort of a scenario, I think, for us all to find ourselves and right, like, really in the the beginning throes of starting to take cybersecurity as an economy, right, as a country as a culture are starting to take it seriously. And then lo and behold, everybody is now outside of the corporate firewall and on their home network, subject to every bad actor in every attempt to enter an endpoint or infected with malware, or some sort of social engineering, all in the blink of an eye. And the response to that, I think is over these next few years is going to be critical for our future. We've seen some really big high profile, headline level, big headline level disasters here in the last two or three months. You know, you hope you've seen the last but it's it's you never know what's around the next corner that you don't know what's around the corner. And frankly, from some of the stuff that we know from the last couple of headlines. There could be Fallout that lasts for for quite some time. So for short, it's one of our listeners, we are talking to Martin Shepherd of arch access control. If you go to ArchAccess.com You can learn more about his company.

So what keeps you in Pittsburgh building this company?

Great question. I mean, Pittsburgh is here's the thing that I think I don't hear other people say about Pittsburgh, and maybe they do, but I don't hear it. But this is certainly my experience. I am one degree and not a native pittsburgher. I've only been here for about eight or nine years. I'm one degree from literally every person you met you name a person in Pittsburgh. I know someone who knows that person, for sure who can make a warm introduction. And that level of intimacy does not exist in most places. We're talking sort of before this, about relationships and the power of relationships. And I think Pittsburgh is a place where that is underscored emphasized. And I've been fortunate, I think to have good relationships, nurture them in the right ways. And Pittsburgh is a place that I can really see as good fertile ground for growing a new company in a space like this. And then, you know, certainly what's even more intriguing perhaps is CMU and what CMU is doing in all things, sort of tech and in that sphere of education, but certainly with regards to cybersecurity, with the SBI. And with what they've done with the cnmc. They were they were early participants, they helped craft. See the cmmc for the Department of Defense, and there are people there that I see as being helpful for what I'm trying to put together.

Well, listen, you are obviously in a great spot in terms of the domain. So that's amazing. So people should go to arch abscess. What do you miss about being a lawyer?

Wow, what do I miss?

You know what? The law minute. The law is a noble profession. I missed the the combat, I miss out thinking people I miss I miss legal writing. I mean, people lawyers will laugh at this, but I miss legal writing. I'm a writer. In my spare time, I missed that I miss standing up in court in front of a jury or in front of a judge and making an argument. That stuff is fine. It's fun. It's like what you would imagine it's fun if if you'd like that sort of debate.

Well, always, it's always a treat to talk to Martin Shepherd, aka zig zag. You've given him and that's the name we're gonna continue to use.

That's right. Absolutely. I accept that name.

Thank you for everything that you do and your belief in the region and forging ahead.

Thank you all. You've been tremendous support and glad to be on the show. Thank you so much for the time.

See, I told you man Martin's a cool dude. I'm so glad he's here Pittsburgh doing what he does with making Pittsburgh cool.

Simple as that.

We wish you continued success. And another tech lab under our belt. It blows my mind. Man. These go by so quickly, because there's so many stories be told. Keep tuning back every single Saturday here at eight on ESPN 970. Or go to your favorite podcast channel and download all these great stories. This has been Jonathan Kersting. And I can't say it enough times.

We're from the Pittsburgh Technology Council learn more about us at PH tech.org. After you do that, have yourself an awesome, awesome weekend. The Pittsburgh Technology Council has been helping our region's tech companies succeed since 1983. The Pittsburgh Technology Council helps its members meet new customers hire top talent, make headlines and have a strong voice in government. From startups to multinational. The PTC helps tech companies and advance manufacturers of all sizes. See how we can help your venture grow at PGH tech.org.

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Transcribed by https://otter.ai