Meet our Strategic Advisor, Philip Staehelin, experienced entrepreneur with strong academic background.
1. Tell us a bit about your background
I started my career in Washington, D.C., where I worked on Capitol Hill. But it quickly became clear to me that I was not meant for government work, and my future career path steered me into the business world – and to Central Europe where I've spent most of the last two decades.
In my more recent roles, I served as the CEO of a $500M alternative payments company, as well as Managing Partner of Roland Berger, a top-tier global consulting firm. I’ve held executive roles in T-Mobile, A.T. Kearney and Accenture. I’m also a serial entrepreneur, and I’ve founded or co-founded a number of companies.
Most recently, I co-founded Blocknify, which focuses on Blockchain-based, secure document signing, and Spectacler, which revolutionizes vision care for the developing world via my patented eyeglass design.
As the co-owner of CEE’s longest running startup accelerator, StartupYard, I'm also heavily involved in developing a robust startup ecosystem in the region. As part of that effort, I serve as a mentor in accelerators from the Baltics to the Balkans, and I advise a number of firms on innovation topics and startup cooperation.
Finally, I sit on a number of boards for both companies and NGOs (such as Transparency International), as well as serving as an advisor to a number of startups (everything from e-commerce to racing fuels).
Perhaps I should also mention that I earned by MBA from INSEAD and I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado in Boulder (the home of Techstars).
2. What makes Cryptelo so exceptional in the crypto industry?
Cryptelo is exceptional for a number of reasons, but first and foremost, they have incredible, best-in-class cryptosecurity technology developed by one of the Top 10 white hat hackers in the world (the first person to crack the SSL protocol). This "security kernel" sits at the core of everything that Cryptelo does.
“Instead of building products and then adding a security layer, they actually start with the security (using their ultra-secure platform) and build products on top.”
This is such a powerful concept that Cryptelo decided to open it to the world. They realize that providing true, NSA-proof security for all types of data storage and transmission is an essential building block of the digital future.
If we can't get this right, then the cost of failure (data breaches, cryptocurrency theft, data blackmail, etc.) will increase exponentially over the years, putting entire ecosystems at risk and causing a tremendous economic damage.
But not only that – we will certainly not be able to realize the full potential of new technologies such as autonomous cars, IoT, e-Health, and Industry 4.0 as security breaches will literally put lives at risk.
To summarize, Cryptelo is an infrastructure play. They're building the foundation of the digital future. They're able to simply remove one the most complex issues of software development by allowing firms to focus on what they do best (providing unique products and services), rather than spending a huge amount of resources to "try" to provide good security.
3. What is the problem that Cryptelo is solving?
Cryptelo started out as a startup with a single product – an NSA-proof Dropbox. They were gaining corporate clients for the product, but they also got a lot of additional requests for crypto security consulting to help the corporate customers secure their platforms and apps too.
The more corporate customers they got (including international banks and even security companies), the more requests they got for their expertise. It turns out (unsurprisingly) that security is a huge pain point for businesses of all sizes.
And as the consequences of a corporate data hack grow, CEOs are realizing that security is no longer an IT problem, but rather a CEO problem. It's literally the CEO that will take the fall when there is a massive data breach.
The problem for the vast majority of CEOs is that they need to trust "someone else" to properly secure their data.
“Anyone can now tap the power of Cryptelo's security without any cryptographic knowledge, and without wasting time and resources. Simply plug-and-play.”
Security is essentially a black box for them, and every company must rely on their own IT departments to provide sufficient protection, even though it's nearly impossible to assess the crypto-capabilities of the IT teams.
And in reality, there are very, very few cryptographic experts in the world that can develop the required defenses to stand up to an assault by a skilled hacker.
Off-the-shelf products also aren't sufficient, as they weren't architected with a "security-first" mentality, which leaves them vulnerable.
The solution is really quite simple. Stop trying to do it yourself. Stop hoping that your IT department really knows what it's doing. Stop putting your digital gold at risk by having insufficient protection.
Instead, companies should rely on Cryptelo – building their own systems and apps on top of the Cryptelo platform. In technical lingo, Cryptelo uses zero-knowledge storage, which means even Cryptelo has no idea what data you're protecting.
Even if your Cryptelo-encrypted server gets hacked, it won't matter, as the data is still completely safe. It will be unreadable and unusable by a hacker.
And if you're worried about the advent of quantum computing to power brute-force attacks to crack the security... no need. The algorithms are literally so robust that it would take the world's most powerful supercomputer millions of years to make a dent in the security.
4. Why is Cryptelo's work so important into today's digital world?
More and more of the world is becoming digital and there is tremendous benefit to supporting and enabling this transformation.
The rules of the game are changing at an ever-increasing pace. Unless we want our digital evolution to devolve into a dystopian world where trust is obliterated, we need to find solutions to secure the value being created.
One startup I stumbled across last week is focusing on securing crypto keys by letting you hammer your passphrase into a small steel bar. They provide you with tools that would be familiar to a blacksmith from the Middle Ages.
Is that the answer to the future of security? Will companies need to hire blacksmiths into their security teams? I kind of like the idea of an Apple-branded forge, but quite clearly, this is not how the future will play out.
“On the other hand, the fact that an anonymous hacker sitting in a small dark room in the middle of nowhere, can rob an international bank, shutdown a nuclear powerplant, steal Coca-Cola's magic formula, or download an executive team's most confidential emails... is frightening.”
Cryptelo certainly thinks there is a better way. A much better way.
Build the required security into the digital foundation itself, to provide the simplest, yet most robust solution, on the market.
And then make it available to everyone.