Each year, the GW Entrepreneurs Round Table and the GW Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship take the occasion of the New Venture Competition (NVC) Finals to honor notable alumni who have been high-achieving entrepreneurs. This year’s recipients of the Distinguished Entrepreneurial Achievement Award (DEAA), husband and wife team Karl Gumtow, SEAS BS ’92, and Vicki Gumtow, SEAS BS ’91, were recognized at the NVC awards ceremony for building a successful cyber security company, Maryland-based CyberPoint.
Early in their careers, Vicki and Karl followed separate paths to hone the technical and business acumen that would ultimately serve as a foundation for their family venture; each held positions of increasing responsibility at top firms such as SRA International and Booz Allen Hamilton. Along the way, the Gumtows made the decision to focus their talents on the complex—and burgeoning—cyber security market.
In 2009, the couple set out on their own, launching CyberPoint from their condominium and performing most functions—including HR, finance, program management, and business development—themselves. Today, CyberPoint serves clients on four continents and boasts annual sales of $50-75 million, maintaining offices in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Columbia, Maryland. CyberPoint’s innovations include the launch of The CyberWire, a daily digest of global cyber security news; acquisition of the high-end engineering firm Bitmonix; and inclusion in Lockheed Martin’s Cyber Security Alliance alongside companies such as Dell, Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft.
In 2015, CyberPoint was included among Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies, based on a 66 percent growth rate between 2012 and 2015. Baltimore magazine has named CyberPoint as one of the city’s Best Places to Work, and both Karl and Vicki have been received business leadership awards from regional and national organizations.
Certainly, The Gumtows’ business success story is extraordinary, but CyberPoint’s philanthropic spirit is what truly distinguishes the company from other entrepreneurial ventures. “We can have all the financial success in the world,” says Karl, “but we won’t be a great company unless we have a civic impact.”
To that end, in November 2015, CyberPoint pledged $1 million to establish an endowment through the Baltimore Community Foundation to further educational, artistic, and economic development initiatives in the city. The company has also established programs for high school and college interns and has provided funding and/or employee volunteers to support several of Baltimore’s nonprofit organizations.
According to SEAS Dean David S. Dolling, the Gumtows are richly deserving of the DEAA, which Dolling presented at GW’s 2017 New Venture Competition on April 20. “We can think of [the New Venture Competition and the Distinguished Entrepreneurial Award Competition] awards as a set of bookends to the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said. “On one end, we have our young entrepreneurs, showcasing their ideas and sharing their aspirations, and on the other end we have Karl and Vicki imparting some of the wisdom gained from their experience in turning their aspirations into products and companies.”
The Gumtows’ story offers real-world lessons to the competition’s fledgling entrepreneurs, serving to inspire students on two fronts: modeling a successful, growth-oriented path and demonstrating a commitment to the community in which they do business.
But it’s a pretty big thrill for the Gumtows, too.
“As a SEAS student at GW, I never imagined that one day SEAS would nominate Karl and me for an award,” says Vicki. “The nomination alone is a great honor and actually having won the award is amazing.”—Mary Follin