After meeting at a Lehigh Valley Hackathon, Max Harris and Mike Hawkins — both U.S. Army veterans with backgrounds in law enforcement, military intelligence, cyber security and software development — founded Allentown’s Netizen.
A year-and-a-half later, the company counts federal agencies (including the Departments of Justice and Defense and the Veteran's Administration) among its clients and is in final negotiations with Defense and the VA on new contracts. One pending project is a software security pilot designed to protect veterans’ data.
Private companies are also turning to Netizen to provide cyber and software security expertise in markets such as healthcare, public safety, finance, manufacturing and e-commerce.
As a veteran-owned company, Netizen benefits from “preferred vendor” status for government contracts. But according to Harris, the young company has also “built a solid brand among the ‘beltway crowd’ in Washington, D.C. and routinely gets called on for our particular areas of expertise in web/mobile software development and cyber security.”
Netizen recently moved into the Allentown Economic Development Corp.'s (AEDC) Bridgeworks Enterprise Center to serve its commercial clients and is working to expand into a second Allentown location which will be security-cleared for defense work. The company is also planning to expand into Virginia to serve its D.C.-based clients and to open satellite offices in Seattle, California and possibly Texas.
“We are [also] working to build out a suite of products for cyber threat intelligence,” adds Harris. “And we have been corresponding regularly with Lehigh University researchers to potentially leverage an academic-private partnership of sorts to drive innovation in cyber security, especially for data and software.”
Source: Max Harris, Netizen and AEDC
Writer: Elise Vider