While vendors for Erkios Systems were shut down during the pandemic, Sean Null and his team got busy learning the necessary skills to keep their startup going, he recalled.
“We were doing a lot of the work on our own; so when the world started moving again, we were prepared. Essentially, we were able to surprise everyone with a finished concept, and now we are preparing our product for general availability in 2022. We’re closer than ever,” said Null, who serves as CEO and co-founder of Erkios Systems.
Founded in 2017 by Null and Philip Van der Straeten, Erkios Systems is a computer and network security company specializing in technology that prevents current and former employees of a company from hacking into the company’s intellectual property.
Click here to read more about Erkios Systems.
Their solution, FortiFi RJ-45, attaches to company-owned computers and devices, then alerts the cybersecurity team of incoming attacks, Null explained.
“We’ve secured a Chinese patent [for FortiFi RJ-45] recently, along with our U.S. patent,” Null noted. “We’re expecting a European patent and Indian patent here real soon.”
Through Erkios Systems’ pre-order campaign, which launched in 2021, Null discovered that the interest for their product went far beyond electric utilities, he said — teasing that curiosity has peaked from major organizations.
“We can’t say much right now, but we’re excited,” he said. “We’ve taken the feedback we’ve received from these various entities and are actually incorporating some of those changes.”
Because of the high cost of building the product, Erkios System applied for Arch Grants — a highly competitive St. Louis-based program that provides $50,000 equity-free grants to help early-stage startups grow and scale.
One of the most attractive features of Arch Grants was the program’s emphasis on diversity, Null said, noting that about 70 percent of the selected founders come from diverse backgrounds.
“The more and more we started learning about Arch Grants and how they focus on helping underrepresented founders, it just seemed like the right fit,” Null shared. “The people who are a part of the program bring high energy and really want to create a positive change. It’s inspiring.”
Click here to read more about the Arch Grants 2021 cohort, which includes another Kansas City Startup — PlaBook.
Erkios Systems is set to move its headquarters to St. Louis for the next year as they complete Arch Grants, Null said.
“We’ve got to do what’s best for our company,” he noted, “and we just feel at this time, moving to St. Louis is what’s best. We’re really fortunate as entrepreneurs to be a part of a group as dedicated as Arch Grants.”
Once Arch Grants wraps up, Null is unsure where Erkios Systems’ next steps will be — but Kansas City and San Francisco are in consideration, he said. Erkios is a former LaunchKC competitor and participated in programming at the Enterprise Center in Johnson County.
“We’ve got a lot of relationships that we’ve developed in Kansas City. We love the community; we love the area; it’s home,” Null shared. “We want to grow our business, so that we can help the future economies of St. Louis and Kansas City with jobs and the other perks that come from having a major business in the area.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.