Meet the Honorees

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Paragon Cyber Solutions, LLC

Paragon Cyber Solutions, LLC is comprised of a team of industry experts who specialize in governance, risk and compliance services with decades of hands-on certified experience. We build in-depth corporate security programs including but not limited to security policy/procedure development, security reviews and gap analysis, and security awareness training.

Founded in: 2016
Majority Owned by:
Female, Minority, Veteran

County

Hillsborough County

Industry

Information Technology

Employee Growth 2019-2022

600% increase 

Revenue Growth 2019-2022

2,842% Increase

Courtney Jackson

CEO

What are some major pivotal moments that got you to where you are today?

I am the Founder and CEO of Paragon Cyber Solutions. In addition to serving active duty, I have more than 20 years of certified hands-on experience in the defense contracting industry, encompassing both executive leadership and entrepreneurship. Through my work, I help government agencies, tech startups, and commercial companies protect the integrity of their business operations through specialized cybersecurity and risk management solutions. 

I am a STEM advocate supported by our company’s Florida Department of Labor and Department of Veteran Affairs approved Cybersecurity Apprenticeship program. I serve on several executive boards while maintaining partnerships with educational institutes and non-profit organizations. 

I have a Master of Science degree in Information Security and Assurance, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and IT Management, and multiple industry certifications such as Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). 

In terms of accomplishments, I am the 2023 TBBJ BusinessWoman of the Year Honoree, 2022 Global Cybersecurity Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, and the 2022 Inaugural CyberX Tampa Honoree.  In addition to being a 2023 GrowFL FLCTW Honoree, Paragon Cyber Solutions was recently named the 2023 Small Business of the Year by the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce. 

Yes.  I worked my way up in Corporate America to a C-Suite position, serving as a Chief Security Officer (reporting directly to the CEO).  During my time in that position, I wore many hats to include running day-to-day operations, serving as the primary contact for our employees and customers, and worked on multiple customer contracts in a cybersecurity Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the company.  I also brought in a lot of revenue.  I worked tirelessly in that role without much recognition and did not feel appreciated. 

After serious consideration and planning with my family, I decided to take all the knowledge and experience that I acquired to leave that position and take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship full-time.

Paragon Cyber Solutions, LLC is an 8(a), minority-owned, veteran-owned, woman-owned certified small business with over 20 years of specialized experience in security assessments, cybersecurity services, and technical engineering for mission support and execution. Our customized solutions and knowledge transfer approach reduces our client’s risk of exposure to cyber-attacks, while strengthening their security posture. We work collaboratively throughout our client’s entire project life cycle providing subject matter expertise to meet their business objectives and exceed their expectations.  

Paragon Cyber Solutions, LLC is comprised of a team of industry experts that specialize in governance, risk and compliance services with decades of hands-on certified experience.  Specific to government, we provide risk management framework (RMF) support to help systems, networks, and applications receive Approvals to Operate (ATOs) in support of the warfighter.  We also provide system / database administration, security engineering, and unit support to special operations forces and military personnel.   

For our commercial clients, we build in-depth corporate security programs including but not limited to security policy/procedure development, security reviews and gap analysis, and security awareness training.  

One thing that makes us unique is that I am a former practitioner.  I worked nearly every position that our current team executes daily, which puts me in a unique position to lead our team based on her hands-on field work experience.  We are currently the only cybersecurity company in Tampa that has a cybersecurity apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Labor and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  We are a small but mighty team making an impact in our community and for our customers.  

Our employees like our diverse and inclusive workplace.  We all have our primary roles but I ensure each team member has opportunities for exposure in other areas of the business that pique their interest.  We are big on communication having recurring all hands meetings, in addition to team building activities and dining together.  Each team member knows that they have a voice and that they are so much more than a number.  One team member specifically told us that he has done more with us in the past year than his prior role of four years.  Ask any of our team members and they will share positive feedback on their experience as a Paragonian. 

Our core beliefs are based on integrity, high quality work, and commitment to the mission makes our company stand out among competitors.   We believe in increasing global security awareness to help people and companies protect their sensitive information.  To help do so, we must address the cybersecurity skills gap in the workforce, particularly for underrepresented groups.  We are one of few cyber / technical companies in the State of Florida with a Department of Labor and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approved cybersecurity apprenticeship program. 

A model of excellence is the definition of Paragon and the reason that name was selected.  Our core beliefs and corporate philosophy guide our company in ensuring integrity and high-quality work in all our client engagements.   We work collaboratively with our clients and provide knowledge transfer to ensure they further their cybersecurity knowledge. Supporting the mission is a driver for everything we do as over 90% of our employees are military veterans.  

We are on the cutting edge of compliance requirements impacting the Defense Industrial Base (DIB).  As such, our company recently passed our CMMC C3PAO assessment to become authorized to conduct CMMC assessments for all government contractors once the ruling is passed and it becomes a mandated requirement.  We are the 42nd company in the world to achieve C3PAO certification and one of the few in Tampa (the smallest).  

Our C3PAO designation was difficult to achieve and long awaited as our CEO initially applied for C3PAO status over two years ago.  We successfully passed our C3PAO assessment alongside running our exhibitor booth at SOFWeek.  During that time, our team had to divide and conquer to successfully complete both efforts, which we did.  We have consistently proven that when we work together, we can accomplish anything. 

The biggest challenge is that we are an emerging small business competing against very large businesses that offer similar services with more resources.  We are overcoming this by making a name for ourselves.  We believe in quality over quantity and all our customers know they will receive excellent results when working with our team. Despite this challenge, we continue to win new contracts and grow in our field based on our integrity, high quality delivery, and our certified / experienced team of experts.  

I read a lot about successful entrepreneurs, not only their wins but also their losses.  I have business mentors that I confide in for support and guidance.  I am a member of the 2024 Tampa Bay Chamber Minority Business Accelerator program which is a great resource.  I am also very active within the community and frequently engage with C-Suite people, as well as team members because there are learning opportunities at every level.  Although I consider myself to be strategic, I am a risk taker in some regards.  I have certainly made mistakes along the way but I debrief to learn from them to ensure I don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly.

Our future business goals include continued sustainable growth, empowering the cybersecurity workforce, and increasing security awareness and job opportunities within our community.  We maintain an overarching business strategy plan that outlines our goals and ways to achieve them.  Our CEO works with an executive business coach and is a member of the 2024 Tampa Bay Chamber MBA Cohort, which helps with these areas.

We plan to achieve our goals by continuing to deliver and showcase a model of excellence in everything that we do.  We will continue to foster our current relationships and build new ones, pursue new contract opportunities within the public and private sectors, and continue our community involvement.

My proudest moments as a CEO have included my family.  My daughters were present during the grand opening of our downtown location and met the Mayor of Tampa.  They were also present when we won the 2023 Tampa Bay Chamber Small Business of the Year awards.   They walked on stage with me as I accepted the award and gave my speech honoring them for their grace as I pursue my dreams.  I want to be the best possible role model for them and show them that through hard work, determination, and execution, anything is possible.

What does it mean to be selected as a GrowFL FLCTW Honoree?

To be honored as a GrowFL FLCTW Honoree truly means the world to Team Paragon, especially amongst so many distinguished companies. Our dedication to excellence is evident in our work and client engagements. To be recognized for it not only shows us that we are succeeding in our mission but it gives us the motivation to continue to take the next steps in our journey.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

I would like to thank my family for their support to include my husband.  We went from a two income household down to one for years in order to get my business off the ground, and he was there every step of the way.  I would also like to thank my mother, my biggest cheerleader.  She has always encouraged me to strive for greatness and keep going despite obstacles and hard times.

I would also like to express my gratitude to the GrowFL team for this amazing recognition and thank my team for their hard work that contributes to our continued success.

What is your advice for aspiring or fellow business owners?

Some advice that I would like to share to aspiring business owners is to take the leap of faither into entrepreneurship once they’re ready.  Put a plan in place to ensure your finances are in order until you receive consistent income.  Do not wait for all the stars to align.  If you truly desire to be your own boss, dive head first into it and don’t look back.  You must at least try versus wondering what if. Lastly, get used to rejection.  I have heard no more than yes in my entrepreneurial journey which is a part of the process.

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February 15, 2024 | Hard Rock Live - Orlando, FL
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