Hardware IT disposal underscores security fears

hardwareAnother day, another report and another scathing censure for the security of the IT hardware industry.

According to a survey  of IT Directors carried out by DSA connect, an IT asset disposal company reveals that 8% have taken a hammer to dispose of IT equipment containing electronic data.   

Moreover, some 12% admit to having submerged it in water to try and destroy the hardware and 18% have used drilling to do this.  The most popular method is shredding (90% of IT Directors have used this), followed by data sanitation software (74%).

DSA Connect’s research suggests that one of the reasons for IT Directors to sometimes take such drastic steps is that 82% said they are concerned about the security issues around the disposal of IT hardware.  

Alarmingly, 10% of IT Directors interviewed described their employer’s knowledge of data erasure and disposal or IT hardware as average or poor.  Some 12% who have carried out data erasure on equipment as part of their jobs, did not receive a certificate of proof for the work done.   

When it comes to their employers disposing of IT tech and hardware, 82% of IT Directors say there is a growing focus on CSR issues, and 24% expect the focus here to increase dramatically over the next three year.  Over half (56%) expect a slight increase in focus here. 

“Our findings shows a real concern amongst IT Directors about the disposal of IT hardware and data.  They are right to be worried because if they get this wrong they could face a huge fine and damage to their reputation,” said Harry Benham, Chairman of DSA Connect.

There are also a number of companies claiming to be professionals in erasing data and IT destruction, but they are not, and they can leave their clients exposed and liable for the mistakes they make.”

Many businesses often find themselves with redundant IT and telecoms equipment. This could be due to periodic equipment refreshes, downsizing or office relocations and closures.

Recovering redundant equipment from across the UK, DSA Connect provides a secure IT asset disposal service utilising a methodology created in partnership with the Ministry of Defence.

DSA Connect’s end of life service allows for the complete removal and data eradication of IT equipment and, depending on the quantity and type of equipment for disposal, DSA Connect offers a rebate of up to 60% on all re-saleable assets. 

DSA Connect commissioned the market research company Pure Profile to interview 50 IT Directors in October 2020.

Treepoints rewards users for lower carbon footprints

Think Airmiles — except Treepoints rewards users for offsetting their carbon footprint, not adding to it

Treepoints

When Anthony Collias and Jacob Wedderburn-Day looked ahead to 2021, one silver lining they could draw from the year was the favourable effect of the pandemic on the climate.

The duo, who met at Oxford University, were already co-founders of a successful startup, but like many businesses faced severe difficulty and uncertainty of what the future would bring.

“From talking to our friends and family, we realised most people are worried about climate change and want to do good for the planet. But it’s knowing where to start that can be daunting”, said Wedderburn-Day.

The solution to this became Treepoints; a subscription service that makes it easy for the individual to live more sustainably. Not only does the startup offset an individual’s footprint, but it’s the world’s first platform to reward users for doing so.

When a customer signs up they can visualise and track their carbon footprint, see the UN-certified projects they’ll be helping to support and join a team plus earn rewards. These rewards take the form of tangible credit that can be spent on the Treepoints green marketplace on eco-friendly brands such as Chillys, Lush, Patagonia and Toms.

Treepoints is not limited to just individual users – businesses can visualise how they are performing in leaderboards across the world, earning rewards together as a company, as well as keeping track of emissions they have offset together.

Treepoint’s aim is to help businesses around the world work towards a greener future, with the ambitious goal of reaching £1 billion by 2030 in support of carbon offsetting projects.

The company partners with certification programs such as Gold Standard to donate to a diverse range of UN certified projects around the world. From renewable energy initiatives to clean water projects and reforestation, every Treepoints member supports a broad portfolio of carbon reduction schemes.

They publish all donations on their Public Impact Ledger, and Treepoints members receive regular updates on the projects they’re supporting through newsletters, emails, gifs and social media.

The company’s mission is to put as much money as possible into fighting climate change – sending 85% of total revenue directly to Gold Standard projects and 10% back in rewards, which is on a par with the best charities worldwide and a higher % than competitors.

Just one month after launch, the company has already been certified as a social enterprise and offset 150 tonnes of carbon. They will track this metric, and others, as they chart the platform’s progress, to gather more data and feedback. With this, they hope to add more features to help users visualise and better understand how they are helping to make an impact in the fight against climate change.

Q&A: 7BC Venture Capital Founders

Andrew Romans and Hazem Danny Al Nakib are the co-founders of 7BC, a venture capital fund using he power of capital, network and technology to back teams disrupting industries and solving global problems toward a more connected, digitized and automated global economy.

7BC

7BC Co-Founder Hazem Danny Al Nakib is based in London.

Welcome to Mob76 Outlook, please tell our readers about 7BC

We were founded for a number of reasons. The first is that although digital transformation and the sharing economy has taken the world by storm over the past 20 years, it has been incredible at sharing, transferring and transmitting data and information, but not at transmitting and transferring value.

The second reason is that without targeted capital investments into innovations at a protocol level, standard, and infrastructure level that really aims at connecting systems, their resiliency, privacy, security, and capabilities and focusing far too much on applications, the entire objective of the model of what economies and industries will look like is ultimately lost.

The third is that we wanted to take a holistic approach across a broad and yet still focused mandate at a technological layer across AI, FinTech and software infrastructure – particularly within the financial sector where it has welcomed, in parts digital transformation, but is nascent when it comes to actual digitalisation where value itself has become digital.

Across all of this, it becomes clear that we are thinking about what global and local economies will turn into and our focus is on what underpins those futures that prioritise security, resilience and optimise efficiencies. We are interested in broader waves effective the use of data, implementations of digital identity, the creation of new asset classes, and the future models of connectivity.

7BC

7BC Co-Founder Andrew Romans is based in Silicon Valley.

Why is the fund called 7BC Venture Capital?

Our name 7BC Venture Capital signals our ability to assist and support our portfolio companies on all 7 continents of the world and experience a journey together with our network where after receiving our capital support they will travel the 7 seas and develop their business with our support on a global basis through expansion and growth.

The number seven suggests our international LP base and other business support networks and is also a lucky number which is important at early stage investing and entrepreneurship. BC stands for borderless continents and borderless capital while spanning many different technologies. We believe that AI, FinTech and software infrastructure will collectively usher in a new era for humankind. Our mission is to fund, develop and support the startups that create the foundation of this new era. The right teams, the right technology, the right capital, and the right business model.

Why are you focusing on AI, software infrastructure and FinTech?

There are disparate alternatives of what the future can look like. However, from a trend standpoint, we know that barriers to entry into the financial sector continue to lower as technology innovations come to the market. As such, the financial sector is becoming more integrated with other sectors and industries within the sharing economy, particularly around healthcare, travel, identity, hospitality and much more.

The second is that we view software infrastructure, and other forms of possibly decentralised technologies as the digital underpinning for applications that are built and that use other technologies such as AI, IoT and others to deliver products, services, and value.

There have been barriers to the successful deployment of many of these technologies and often it comes down to where the data is, how is it being collected, and is it being used well in a connected and secure environment, particularly when it is now more valuable than gold. And secondly, whether the digital representations of physical objects are easily stored, transferred, and transacted in a more transparent, disintermediated, and automatic way.

We find that changing the narrative and focusing on building blocks positions us well from a narrative standpoint to build a robust, disruptive and transformational portfolio of companies with both a unique advantage and a unique selling point and differentiator – Where our portfolio companies work together and are complimentary with each other as well. The future is one that will be even more connected, even more automated, and even more digital, that is all we can be certain of.

At what stage of startup investment do you invest?

The majority of our fund is dedicated to series A and growth stage rounds of early stage businesses at the post-product and post-revenue stage where rapid revenue growth, traction, and expansion are the key performance indicators of the business.

However, we do leave some room for a large number of small ticket capital investments at the seed or pre-series A rounds enabling us to double down in future rounds. Our global network of venture partners and ties to universities, incubators and local ambassadors allow us to support the rights teams early on.

Why is 7BC different to the other funds out there?

Every fund can say why they’re different. Most will say it’s their past performance and current network. We can ‘say’ that, but we can also ‘show’ you. We will continue to show you our network and continue to develop it.

In many cases the network is at our 7BC LP investor, team, VC co-investment / syndication and service provider layers, but our favourite is our own current and former portfolio CEOs and founders supporting our evolving global community, and that brings past performance to current and future financial performance. 

Any advice to startups when the pitch to you?

Really it always comes down to the basics. If the four biggest factors for success in real estate are location, location, location, the biggest factors for success in our lenses are team, team, team, market, technology, traction and who else is supporting this startup? 

Innovations come from having a new technology, at the right time, in the right place with a the right business model. That is what we’re looking for. Where is value not being captured, and where can value be better captured and best delivered?

But with all things, it is a story and depends on the facts of the case at hand – keep it simple, tell your story, have your reason and purpose that drives you and your team, and implement it then demonstrate in your pitch how you’ve been implementing it and what you plan on doing. 

Stick to facts and what is there specifically, what you have accomplished and what you will. As long as that can be shown tangibly and clearly, then you’ll attract the right capital, partners, and team members. Sometimes it is a numbers game, sometimes it’s a bit of your gut and vision, but above all it’s a mixture of demonstrating delivery, having laser sharp focus, being consistent, and being surrounded by the best team in an area of the market that you’ve identified is missing or lacking something. 

We know that our cash cheque is important, but if we can’t see how we can add value in other ways we don’t invest. This often comes down to our experience, advice and network. We believe that is how all early stage investing should be. Good startups will always attract plenty of funders in any boom or bust economy. The best funders need to demonstrate how they will add value and then deliver that value whilst constantly growing their reputation. It’s that simple. Add value or don’t invest. 

Remote Working: How to Be More Productive

Remote working should be be a doddle. Rodney Laws tells us how to make it even easier… and more efficient.

remote

Remote working means we often have to make do without our ‘home’ comforts we take for granted in the office. You’re working without your desktop PC with everything laid out just how you want it, or your desk organized to suit your daily routine. Instead, it’s just you and your laptop, and working on a smaller laptop is a less than perfect situation. 

Workplaces are changing and working from home is a much more common prospect. There are plenty of ways you can work remotely on your laptop and keep your productivity levels high though, here are just a few. 

Use an external mouse and keyboard

Ditching your laptop’s frustrating built-in keyboard and track-pad mouse for an external pairing is a huge quality of life improvement all remote workers can appreciate. The track-pad and keyboard on laptops are generally of lesser quality, especially on compact models. They can’t offer the same level of dexterity, hampering your working experience and forcing you to make compromises. These features may be useful when you’re literally using the laptop on your lap, but they feel unnatural and difficult when working at a desk. 

Invest in a good quality mouse and larger keyboard, they’re much more convenient options for getting substantial work done. Your typing speed will improve and your frustration levels will drop. A key part of successfully working remotely is replicating your most productive working condition, this classic pairing is essential to achieving that. 

Use a second screen

You never know just how important a second screen is until you get one. Just like a mouse and external keyboard, this is a quality of life improver you can’t afford to skip out on. 

Laptop screens are conventionally small and less likely to display all of the information a remote worker needs to see at once. Whatever your profession, chance are you need to keep track of a couple things at once, whether it’s research notes you’re writing from or multiple stats for a report. Jumping between windows and tabs just isn’t conducive to this kind of work. With a second screen, you can just simply turn your head. You’ll notice an immediate change in your productivity levels and find yourself with some extra time left over for other projects. 

If you’re a bit of a technophobe, this StarTech guide teaches you the difference between port styles so you can get your laptop hooked up to a display device without connection headaches. 

Adjust lighting

Just because you’re not working on your usual computer set up doesn’t mean your eyes should suffer. Eye-strain is a common ailment for office workers who spend a lot of time in front of a screen, and how well lit your screen is has a huge effect on that. If you’re working on a screen that’s too bright or too dim you could be hampering your productivity and doing permanent damage to your eyes. 

Before you start working for the day, make sure your screen brightness is adjusted to suit the lighting in the room. You should always aim to work in a well-lit room with plenty of natural light. Compensating for a dark room by turning the brightness up to its maximum will do more harm than good and slow you down in the long run. If you’re worried your battery will suffer from keeping the brightness turned up, make sure you’re working somewhere where you can keep your laptop charging permanently. 

Update all your software

Nothing will bring your productivity coming to a screeching halt faster than a slow laptop burdened with outdated software. To make sure you get as much done away from the office as you would do in it, spend some time the night before making sure all the software on the laptop is up to date and functioning properly. 

At some point, we’ve all told a software update ‘not now’, usually for a couple of months in a row. This is the time to accept that update though and make sure your laptop is in the best condition possible. It’ll save you slapping the poor thing out of frustration next time it freezes during a download. 

Block remote working distractions

Just because you’re working at home or in the hotel doesn’t mean you should be browsing Facebook every 15 minutes. Breaks are important, but distractions aren’t the same as breaks. You’re supposed to look away from the screen!

Set limitations for yourself, or, if you can’t control yourself it might be time to look into apps that block distraction websites, such as the ones listed here. There’s no reason for productivity to drop just because you’re out the office and no one is looking over your shoulder. You’re only giving yourself more work to do later anyway. 

Take a break 

Not the most groundbreaking advice, but it’s just as important to take breaks frequent breaks when working at home as it is in the office. The more breaks you take the less likely to get distracted you become. 

Take some time away from the screen and stand up to stretch your muscles. Take advantage of the fact you’re working remotely with a laptop and move around a bit. You aren’t confined to your desk and can work wherever you want, so work in bed, work in the coffee shop or do a couple of hours outside if you need to. Find what suits you and vary it up. 

Remote work can be exciting, but it comes with its own challenges to remain productive. These features should make it as easy as possible to work to your high standards on your laptop.