TechFestNW Interview: Steve Marsh, CEO Smarsh Inc., on Electronic Communication Compliance and Portland’s Tech Culture

| August 28, 2013

tech

September brings TechFestNW to Portland.  Billed as “the little sister to MusicFestNW”, TechFestNW explores the technology, start-up and design culture that Portland is cultivating.

TechFestNW is curated by Rick Turoczy (founder of PIE, (The Portland Incubator Experiment) and author of tech blog Silicon Florist), and Rick has lined up a great list of speakers for 2013.  If you don’t want to wait to hear what these talented and interesting people, this List.ly gathers the speakers' Twitter handles.

TMMPDX.COM was lucky to connect with one of these great speakers –Stephen Marsh, founder and CEO of Smarsh, Inc.  Smarsh provides hosted solutions for archiving electronic communications, including email, instant messaging and social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  We asked Steve about starting Smarsh, electronic communications compliance, and the Portland tech scene. Somehow all answers came back to craft beer and coffee!  (Steve's responses are in italics.)

steve_marsh_ceo_smarsh_inc

Steve Marsh, Founder and CEO Smarsh, Inc.

What led you to start Smarsh in 2001?

I knew I always wanted to run my own business. I grew up in a family of business owners. My father runs his own company and many of my relatives have owned their own companies over the years. I followed my interest and experience in financial markets and technology and that ultimately led to Smarsh.

The company started as a technology consultancy for financial firms, but soon morphed into the archiving and compliance provider we are today. We received repeated requests from customers looking for technology to satisfy new SEC regulations around electronic recordkeeping, I did a lot of homework on the topic and recognized that the solutions that existed in the archiving market were either too costly and/or required too much IT expertise and maintenance for most firms to manage. There was an opportunity, and we started down the archiving path. I still get as excited today as I did then about seeing a vision through to reality, and building and growing all aspects of the business.

As digital marketers, should we be concerned with electronic communications compliance?

Yes. It may not be as critical a priority for you as it is for your compliance, human resources or legal department, but it is very important to have an understanding of the legal or regulatory requirements that come along with your function and your business. If you are looking to use email, social media, mobile messaging or other electronic communications to market your organization, it’s important to at least start a conversation with your legal or compliance department to make sure that you understand any risks involved, whether they be around e-discovery and records retention, privacy, data protection, disclosures and endorsements or employee rights, for example.

The proliferation of social media creates challenges for industries needing to archive communications. Are there any unified solutions that address social media compliance?

Social media is proliferating on a number of levels. There’s the simple but significant increase in volume of social media content or messages, and certainly more networks to monitor and archive.

There is no doubt that compliance technology is moving swiftly to keep up with the evolution of the tools, and depending on your organization’s specific needs, there are technology solutions that will cover all your bases. However, the reality is, there is no one-size-fits-all “compliance button” when it comes to social media. A true solution for compliance is going to involve a thoughtful policy, consistent training and technology to help govern usage and enforce policy.

Where are data-storage and cloud-based services headed?

If you’re not already, get familiar and comfortable with these because they are quickly becoming the de facto norm at organizations of all sizes. It’s easier to manage. The model is mature enough where most companies already have some services in the cloud, and the providers that offer these services are leading industry innovation and growth.

You mentor local technology entrepreneurs. What is the first piece of advice you give to them?

Make sure your office is within walking distance to the coffee shop or craft brewery (kidding). Take the time to dig deep and truly know what you envision your business to be. What are you trying to achieve? Is it a hobby? Or are you going to look for investment to grow aggressively? Are you looking to build your organization to a point where you can sell it?

Your end-game strategy provides a great sanity check and aid when you’re faced with difficult decisions later.

What makes Portland attractive to technology entrepreneurs?

Beyond the lifestyle benefits of Portland and the Pacific Northwest, I love the start-up tech culture here. There are a lot of young innovative tech companies that are learning from each other, helping each other and collaborating to put the Portland software & technology scene on the map.

Can you give our readers a teaser for your TechFestNW speech?

It’s going to be a “fireside chat” with Mike Rogaway. I expect we’ll cover a lot about entrepreneurship, the Portland tech scene, and of course coffee shops and craft breweries.

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tech

September brings TechFestNW to Portland.  Billed as “the little sister to MusicFestNW”, TechFestNW explores the technology, start-up and design culture that Portland is cultivating.

TechFestNW is curated by Rick Turoczy (founder of PIE, (The Portland Incubator Experiment) and author of tech blog Silicon Florist), and Rick has lined up a great list of speakers for 2013.  If you don’t want to wait to hear what these talented and interesting people, this List.ly gathers the speakers' Twitter handles.

TMMPDX.COM was lucky to connect with one of these great speakers –Stephen Marsh, founder and CEO of Smarsh, Inc.  Smarsh provides hosted solutions for archiving electronic communications, including email, instant messaging and social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  We asked Steve about starting Smarsh, electronic communications compliance, and the Portland tech scene. Somehow all answers came back to craft beer and coffee!  (Steve's responses are in italics.)

steve_marsh_ceo_smarsh_inc

Steve Marsh, Founder and CEO Smarsh, Inc.

What led you to start Smarsh in 2001?

I knew I always wanted to run my own business. I grew up in a family of business owners. My father runs his own company and many of my relatives have owned their own companies over the years. I followed my interest and experience in financial markets and technology and that ultimately led to Smarsh.

The company started as a technology consultancy for financial firms, but soon morphed into the archiving and compliance provider we are today. We received repeated requests from customers looking for technology to satisfy new SEC regulations around electronic recordkeeping, I did a lot of homework on the topic and recognized that the solutions that existed in the archiving market were either too costly and/or required too much IT expertise and maintenance for most firms to manage. There was an opportunity, and we started down the archiving path. I still get as excited today as I did then about seeing a vision through to reality, and building and growing all aspects of the business.

As digital marketers, should we be concerned with electronic communications compliance?

Yes. It may not be as critical a priority for you as it is for your compliance, human resources or legal department, but it is very important to have an understanding of the legal or regulatory requirements that come along with your function and your business. If you are looking to use email, social media, mobile messaging or other electronic communications to market your organization, it’s important to at least start a conversation with your legal or compliance department to make sure that you understand any risks involved, whether they be around e-discovery and records retention, privacy, data protection, disclosures and endorsements or employee rights, for example.

The proliferation of social media creates challenges for industries needing to archive communications. Are there any unified solutions that address social media compliance?

Social media is proliferating on a number of levels. There’s the simple but significant increase in volume of social media content or messages, and certainly more networks to monitor and archive.

There is no doubt that compliance technology is moving swiftly to keep up with the evolution of the tools, and depending on your organization’s specific needs, there are technology solutions that will cover all your bases. However, the reality is, there is no one-size-fits-all “compliance button” when it comes to social media. A true solution for compliance is going to involve a thoughtful policy, consistent training and technology to help govern usage and enforce policy.

Where are data-storage and cloud-based services headed?

If you’re not already, get familiar and comfortable with these because they are quickly becoming the de facto norm at organizations of all sizes. It’s easier to manage. The model is mature enough where most companies already have some services in the cloud, and the providers that offer these services are leading industry innovation and growth.

You mentor local technology entrepreneurs. What is the first piece of advice you give to them?

Make sure your office is within walking distance to the coffee shop or craft brewery (kidding). Take the time to dig deep and truly know what you envision your business to be. What are you trying to achieve? Is it a hobby? Or are you going to look for investment to grow aggressively? Are you looking to build your organization to a point where you can sell it?

Your end-game strategy provides a great sanity check and aid when you’re faced with difficult decisions later.

What makes Portland attractive to technology entrepreneurs?

Beyond the lifestyle benefits of Portland and the Pacific Northwest, I love the start-up tech culture here. There are a lot of young innovative tech companies that are learning from each other, helping each other and collaborating to put the Portland software & technology scene on the map.

Can you give our readers a teaser for your TechFestNW speech?

It’s going to be a “fireside chat” with Mike Rogaway. I expect we’ll cover a lot about entrepreneurship, the Portland tech scene, and of course coffee shops and craft breweries.

zp8497586rq