Shaping the future

Start-up idea: human IT security gap

Different industries, different characters, their own stories. The paths to success of three young start-ups crossed at the Nuremberg exhibition centre. Part II

For David Kelm, it's people he wants to do good for. More precisely, employees in companies. He is the founder of IT-Seal. In 2015, he received the "Best Student Award" from the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) for his Bachelor's thesis. Together with two of his fellow students at the TU Darmstadt, he took the plunge. "We were lucky enough to be funded at the start with the EXIST-Gründerstipendium," Kelm recalls, "this allowed us to take the first steps without much worry or risk." Co-founder Alex Wyllie brings his organizational strengths to the table, while the third member of the team, Yannic Ambach, is behind the technical development.

IT-Seal: The weak point of the human being becomes the strength of the company

Idea giver David Kelm knows the secret behind the success: "A start-up requires a lot of commitment and enthusiasm, otherwise you might as well leave it alone. There's no such thing as 'overnight success'; you have to learn to find the right balance between going full throttle at work and spending time with yourself and your loved ones." The start-up, which has already won several awards, starts exactly where the firewalls in companies fail: at the weak point of people. Well-disguised advertising emails or the perfectly forged email from the boss himself: 19 percent of digital attacks in Germany in the last two years fell into the area of "social engineering", the targeted manipulation of employees.

Yannic Ambach (left) and David Kelm

Yannic Ambach (left) and David Kelm, the founders of IT-Seal.

"We give them the tools to prevent this," Kelm explains, "and sharpen their sense of phishing mails in the long term." IT-Seal does this with security analyses such as the "Phishing Academy", a "Security Awareness Assessment" or the "Security Culture Audit". With resounding success, also for the start-up itself: Winner of the Europe-wide "Social Engineering Awards"; top ten place among cyber security start-ups in Europe 2016; second place as "Awareness Security Initiative of the Year" at the "Information Security Days" in Luxembourg. In addition, this year saw the patent application of the "Employee Security Index". The phishing simulation is summarized in a meaningful key figure.

it-sa: "Fixed point in the business year".

The official market entry took place at it-sa 2016 in Nuremberg. Kelm: "This trade fair in particular offers the best potential to get into conversation with IT security managers from all over the world." The it-sa remains a fixed point in IT-Seal's business year; the contacts made here brought the young company a large number of orders. And at this year's trade fair there was another award for the founders: the UP18@it-sa Award, which was presented for the first time.

Founder idea Increasing the IT security behaviour of employees through security awareness measurement, phishing academy, security culture audit

Founderteam David Kelm, Alex Wyllie and Yannic Ambach found their start-up IT-Seal in 2015, 1st place at Start-up-Weekend in Darmstadt, EXIST founder scholarship.

Founder tips
Start contacting customers early and sign first contracts. Ensure that there is a good atmosphere in the team and that cooperation works well. Take time regularly to give feedback and discuss problems, even if there is always too much to do. Learning to be able to say "no" - the day needs more than 24 hours for the range of interesting talks, events and product ideas.

Founders' trade fair it-sa in Nuremberg: official market entry in 2016, winner of the newly introduced UP18@it-sa Award 2018.

Germany's largest offer for start-ups

IT-Seal is one of the more than 1,200 start-ups that have participated in one of the many joint stands for "young innovative companies" or the start-up areas at the NürnbergMesse trade fairs since 2007. With special formats for start-ups at 17 leading exhibitions, NürnbergMesse is number 1 in Germany in the range of products and services for start-ups. Young companies benefit from the know-how of the exhibition and start-up experts, a direct contact person, a good cost-benefit ratio and support with organization and set-up.

Further information in the NürnbergMesse "Start-up Hub" or directly by e-mail to

Read about start-up ideas from the organic (Emils) and pet food (Eat Small) sectors here.

Redaktionsmitglied Reinhold Gebhart
Reinhold Gebhart
Online Editorial // Editor for Vincentz Network
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