Security Meets Social Responsibility (S1:E23)

Humans in Tech Podcast - Security Meets Social Responsibility (S1:E23)

In this episode, we are joined by Greg Sippell, CSO and VP of Sales at Clear Cloud Solutions Inc. Founded by Hoopa Valley Tribe member Daren Masten, Clear Cloud is more than the typical integrated security dealer and is focused on cultural identity and giving back to the Native American community.

Full Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:01):
You’re listening to Humans in Tech, our podcast explores today’s most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow. Bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what’s new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity, and IOT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species and dive into the emerging digital experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture. Your host is Leigh Dow, VP of Global Marketing at Identiv.

Leigh Dow (00:43):
Welcome and thank you for tuning in today. I’m joined by Greg Sippell, CSO and VP of sales at Clear Cloud Solutions, Inc. Appreciate you taking the time, Greg.

Greg Sippell (00:53):
Oh, thank you very much for inviting me.

Leigh Dow (00:54):
Of course. Clear Cloud Solutions is an Identiv dealer, but before we get into all that, I’d love to know more about the history of the company.

Greg Sippell (01:02):
Sure. Thank you. Thanks for asking. So Daren Masten started this company in 2012 after he had a very successful career as a loss prevention executive, and he started a security integration company. And he was very fortunate in that some of his hard work and folks that he met early on, embraced him and sponsored him. And so he was lucky enough to get with the California Public Utilities in Southern California Edison who were looking to add more diverse businesses to their portfolio. So they invited him in, his business in and gave him a shot at the project and sort of got the company up and running that way. And so the company’s really kind of been built doing utility business here locally in [inaudible 00:01:48] Southern Cal. And then right around 2020, the really focus became diversifying that portfolio and adding other customers. And so that’s sort of where we are today, and that’s sort of the 10 year brief history.

Leigh Dow (02:04):
I know Clear Cloud is focused on cultural identity and giving back to the Native American community. Are there any current initiatives you’d like to highlight for our listeners?

Greg Sippell (02:14):
I guess I would point to Darren’s tribe. He grew up in the Hoopa tribe, which is in Northern California. It’s about an hour, two hours west of Redding, but an hour east of the coast. And so it’s tucked in the valley there and he grew up there, and so we’re there often. We’re there probably, Darren’s probably there 10 days a month. I’m probably there three or four days a month, working on not only business aspects. Everything from helping them put in request for grant funding to help the community, to doing actual projects for different business entities. To actually Darren’s very involved in the community, helping them do audits for like grocery store loss prevention audits, mini marts. And he also does volunteer his time at different churches around the community there.

Leigh Dow (03:10):
I always like talking to people at companies that have a really strong corporate social responsibility program or activity, especially when it’s something like that. Where it’s so personal to the people who own the company and, or work there.

Greg Sippell (03:27):
It’s been very eye opening for me to go up there and see what’s the things that have really hurt the community in terms of high amounts of theft, high amounts of drug use. They’ve been really hurt by the fires. And so Darren kind of takes an approach, he attacks all of those individually. So he’ll do work on, he’s involved with the fire chief writing programs to get younger folks off of drugs and into other things. We’re trying to hire some younger people for some of the projects that we’re starting to do up there. And so he’s very involved. It’s fun to see. And in a lot of cases, when people figure out his last name, and then they start to identify that he grew up there and, oh, I know your cousin.

Leigh Dow (04:12):
Of course.

Greg Sippell (04:13):
Yeah. It’s been a lot of fun.

Leigh Dow (04:15):
So what verticals are the strongest for Clear Cloud?

Greg Sippell (04:18):
Yeah, we’re very vertically focused. I’m a big believer in that we, as I mentioned, the company grew from point A to point B in that critical infrastructure and utility sector. And we still spend a lot of time and effort there. But beyond that, where we really spend our time is in the federal government, because we’re an 8(a), a disadvantaged or diverse business enterprise they call it. And in the tribal community as we’ve been discussing. So we try to stay real focused in those three aspects. And then because we have a lot of people here with experience in the local market, we know a lot of people. So we do work off referrals, quite a bit in the commercial space, but we typically spend 90% of our day in those three areas I just mentioned.

Leigh Dow (05:06):
You’re currently selling Identiv’s Velocity Vision video management system. What are the top differentiators for you when deploying an end to end VMS platform like Velocity Vision?

Greg Sippell (05:17):
So the first thing we really looked at is the people, we have an amazing rep. Jeanie James has been phenomenal in working our account, bringing us resources like Mike, like yourself for all kinds of activities, joint activities. We really looked a lot at that because a lot of at the top tier, the technologies do pretty much the same thing. We wanted that relationship with a company that could back it up with resources when available, Jeanie’s produced resources for everything that we’ve really everything that we’ve really attacked. Invited us down to the local office to meet all the hidden stakeholders. And so we like open architecture VMS’s and Velocity Vision certainly fits that. But really it’s what was really the relationship, all things being equal. That was our top choice.

Leigh Dow (06:15):
Yeah. And I agree about Jeanie, she’s a phenomenal person to work with. I hear you’re looking to deploy a velocity vision into the Hoopa tribe later this quarter. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, what that project looks like?

Greg Sippell (06:29):
That is true and we’ve actually started. So there’s a couple things going on up there through public utilities and an outsourced IT resource that they have, and an outsourced consultant that they work with. We probably spent about six weeks developing about 23 projects that were submitted for grant money. But parallel to that each individual business entity up there, whether it be the police or the schools and the utilities themselves. They had us do assessments and put together proposals for projects that they wanted to implement, regardless of whether that grant funding came through.

So some of those have started to come through not the grant side, but the individual side. So we’ve actually deployed our first Velocity Vision install up there for the early start they call it, which is for our younger kids. It’s like an elementary school, and then we’ve been awarded a park, also the main park in town. They want to increase visibility to people that are coming in there at night and causing some trouble, and the theft and vandalism things of that nature. So we’ve been awarded that one and then construction has started, there’s an infrastructure element to that. So we’re probably at 50 channels, I would say right now. And there’s a lot more to come with and without the grant program.

Leigh Dow (07:57):
I think that the grant program piece of that is really interesting because there is a lot of grant money available that I think a lot of organizations don’t realize that’s there, and how to pursue it. So I think it’s wonderful that, that’s part of your mission. Is attaching the process of creating the grant to achieving the grant, to doing something really positive with it.

Greg Sippell (08:26):
People throw around the world collaborative a little bit too much as a buzzword, but this really was a collaborative effort because utilities has visibility to a grant program that’s really around infrastructure. Mostly around getting fiber optic cable in there, so they can increase their services to the community. But security qualifies if you present it the right way. And so it took some effort working with them to propose the right types of security and the right applications, so it would qualify. So we’re expecting a fair amount of that to come through.

But it’s very competitive, Hoopa has to compete with a lot of other tribes for that funding. And the good news is after they submitted in round one, the government basically came back and said, we had more people ask or what was asked exceeded what we have, but we want to see if we can accommodate everyone. So we’re going to look for more. And they basically were trying to do a shake out of some of the tribes that maybe didn’t have everything dialed in, T’s crossed and I’s dotted. So there was a round two, but we’re expecting them to be successful. And it was certainly a lot of work on there.

Leigh Dow (09:43):
That’s great. Any closing thoughts on strategy in the future of security technology?

Greg Sippell (09:50):
Well, one of the things that we did last year, this really vaulted our business to the next level, is we have a joint venture partner now. So it’s part of the 8(a) Program, and people aren’t familiar with that. You have nine years as educated in your 8(a) Program, and then you, what they call graduate. They expect you to be a big boy business at that point, and going into the world and not have set aside diverse or small business awards come your way.

Well, when companies that graduate are allowed to come back to companies like us that are no program and form a joint venture, the advantage to that company is they can then go back to all their clients and say, Hey, guess what? You can still direct a word as 8(a) business because we’re mentoring a younger company. And so in doing so, we noticed that they were fairly strong in cybersecurity, which is where we were headed. So the future for us is really in the physical and cyber security convergence. And so we’re spending a lot of time on that right now. And we have one big contract award and another verbal to do various things. One of them is a cyber assessment. One of them is essentially what’s called FPCon, force, protection, and conditions, gets complicated. But that’s really where we’re headed, where physical and cyber converge. And so we have been adding skill sets and folks on our technical team that can handle that.

Leigh Dow (11:20):
We refer to that as phygital.

Greg Sippell (11:22):
I like it.

Leigh Dow (11:23):
Yeah.

Greg Sippell (11:25):
Okay.

Leigh Dow (11:25):
Hey, it was so great to have you join us today. I really appreciate you taking the time to call in and tell us about all the great projects you’re working on.

Greg Sippell (11:32):
No, we really value the relationship and we’re very thankful to be invited.

Speaker 1 (11:36):
The problem isn’t security it’s awareness. Velocity Vision is the future of visual surveillance, an intelligent video management solution that delivers real time situational awareness in an open security platform, integrate with your existing systems, verify your environment in one pane of glass and increase the efficiency of your security operation. Get full control of your environment when and where you need it. Learn more identiv.com. Physical security, identity verification, the IOT, the hyper connectivity of our lives will only grow more pervasive. As technology becomes more automated and experiences more augmented, it’s up to us to preserve our humanity and use new tools and trends for good. The only question is, are we up for the challenge.