Young entrepreneurs helping to build a World Class Worcestershire

Two young entrepreneurs have made their business dream a reality by setting up their own company just a stones throw from where they went to school together.

Michael Ranaldo and James Workman have set up Dephrisk on the Malvern Hill Science Park. The company specialises in protecting businesses from hackers while keeping prices affordable.

The former Chase High School sixth formers were inspired to embark on their venture following a work experience placement in cyber security through the 3SDLs Cyber Apprenticeship Development Scheme. They realised that companies face all sorts of risks with the growth of IT – emails, websites, systems – and knew they could offer affordable services to help companies manage their cyber risk.

They’ve just taken on an apprentice themselves, Josh Walker, to help the rapidly growing business, as they wanted another youngster to be able to develop their skills on the job and stay local. And with the trio aged just 19, 18, 17 they can claim to be one of the youngest staffed businesses in the county.

As Michael says they were very much aided by local grants and support: “Our ages can prove a barrier at times, we’ve had to establish our credibility and build trust. People buy from people, even in these days of virtual business, the value of a face and personal conversation can’t be overstated. We’ve done this through getting out and about and meeting face to face with businesses in breakfast clubs, innovation festivals, the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber expo and the Find it in Worcestershire events that Worcestershire County Council run to get businesses talking and doing business together. This support has been massively important to our profile and developing our local reputation.”

Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, said: “As teenagers, they must be some of the youngest ever employers of an apprentice in the country and in their own words, they know that the best cyber advice comes from young people, not middle aged men.

“In an era when teenagers can hack into businesses and government computers, they are well equipped to succeed at the heart of cyber valley and I have offered my support as they venture out into the world of commerce.

“I hope that Dephrisk is a trailblazer to young people around the county that this is a great time to take on the challenge of being your own boss. I wish them every success.”

Gary Woodman, Executive Director of Worcestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership is full of support for the young entrepreneurs: “Dephrisk is a brilliant example of not only the sort of business we need in Worcestershire but why Worcestershire is a world class place to do business.

“It’s keeping skills and talent in the County and Cyber security is a sector we want to grow. It’s exactly what the Malvern Hills Science Park is for as one of Worcestershire’s ‘game changer sites’ dedicated to expanding jobs in IT like Dephrisk.”