Tinkering with old technology defined childhood for Philip Van Der Straeten, COO of Kansas City tech startup Erkios Systems.
Such adventures could one day provide a nationwide payoff for his company, he said.
“Our organization was built by tinkerers and critical thinkers attempting to break things down and get a better grasp of what they entail,” Van Der Straeten said of the way Erkios Systems targets a need that a vast majority of companies don’t even realize they must address: physically securing confidential, digital information shared with employees who eventually exit their positions.
The entrepreneur, along with his band of like-minded teammates — winners of $50,000 in the recent LaunchKC competition — could save companies from crippling, insider attacks on intellectual property with their first product, Fortifi, he said.
A master lock for security, Fortifi by Erkios Systems is a physical device attached to company-owned computers and devices. Fortifi alerts cybersecurity teams to incoming attacks, said Sean Null, the company’s CEO.
“I just assumed that there should’ve been something like [Fortifi] already on the market,” Null said, expressing his amazement. “I was unable to find a solution for [a former employer] so we researched it and decided to invent it.”
Former co-workers, Null and Van Der Straeten once used their tech skills as cybersecurity monitors for a prominent, local utility company where they realized that the common trope of an outside hacker wasn’t always the most realistic threat to a company’s digital presence.
“I have a skill set that can disrupt the power utility for the entire city — and I’m not the only person in America, let alone the world, who can do that,” Null said of the knowledge he obtained while working in the tech trenches of corporate cybersecurity monitoring.
Fortifi could even go so far as to thwart acts of cyberterrorism, Null added.
Made official in May, Fortifi is now a piece of patented technology, he said. It’s a move that opens new doors for Erkios Systems, as the company builds momentum and secures investors.
Competing in LaunchKC was great experience with just the right amount of exposure, Null said.
“It made our offering more attractive to potential investors,” he said. “With local validation, obviously, we’ve got to have something that somebody believes in.”
Erkios Systems is now in investment talks with an unidentified company, Null told Startland, noting a direct correlation to the company’s grant win and participation in LaunchKC during Techweek Kansas City, he said.