From emails to social media and everything in between, our digital footprint is scattered across various platforms online. The data we submit online or provide access to can be misused and there have been instances where major social media platforms were unable to protect sensitive user data. Such cases raised genuine questions about how companies are handling user data and how users can get their data expunged if they want to.
It’s quite evident that user direly needs a way to take control over their data and request its deletion, if need be. However, it is no easy task to do so manually. The Israeli startup Mine realised the need for a service that would make this happen and came up with its own solution that enables users to find and demand the removal of their personal data.
This is the first time such a service is being made available, and the company has announced the expansion of its services to London, UK. In a conversation with Mine’s CEO, Gal Ringel, we understand more about the startup, how it functions and about its future endeavours.
Silicon Canals: How did your journey start with finding Mine, and what is the philosophy behind it?
Gal Ringel: I started as a cybersecurity engineer in the Israeli Cyber Intelligence Unit 8200, which is the cybersecurity offensive unit of Israel. After spending six years as an officer and a captain, I met the other co-founder Gal Golan, who is Mine’s CTO. We served together for six years but after 10 years, I decided to switch to be a part of the venture capital community in Israel.
At the end of 2017, we heard about GDPR and started learning more about it is when we decided to start Mine. We think that GDPR is an amazing regulation because it gives users powerful rights on our personal data by defining it as an asset and including an option for the right to be forgotten. However, most companies don’t make user’s personal data easily accessible for an average user.
Kobi Nissan, Mine’s Chief Product Officer (CPO), also joined us during this time and the three of us realised that we deeply understand personal data and how valuable it is. Our personal data can be used against us in many ways and when we understood GDPR, we wanted to connect the dots and help people take ownership of their personality online.
Silicon Canals: How does Minee work and what are your goals for 2020?
Gal Ringel: We actually do two things. First is the discovery part where we help you discover all companies holding your personal data, which is around 350 companies for an average user. Almost eight new companies get ahold of your data also every month. Our service, for the first time, lets a user see their digital footprint and understand about all the companies that possess your data. Next up comes the control part where we put the user in the driver’s seat. With the click of a button, the user can exercise their right to be forgotten for any company that holds their data and we will make it happen for you.
As for what goes on behind the scenes, we discovered that about 90 percent of companies holding your personal data can be found through your email inbox. Emails from Airbnb, Amazon or your flight ticket and hotel tickets can easily help us understand which companies have your data. However, we have worked really hard to develop a non-intrusive machine learning and NLP that can simply glance at an email’s subject and understand what type of interaction happened with a company. This ensures that we are transparent and no personal user data is collected by our platform.
Silicon Canals: What are your future plans? Any news on funding??
Gal Ringel: We plan to launch Mine in the US next, which will probably happen around mid-2020. Mine raised €2.7M seed round funding in February 2018, which was backed by Battery and Saban Ventures. We are still utilising this fund, which is supposed to last for about two years and we used it to grow our team to 11 people and develop our product. From a technical perspective, it was really challenging to develop our service. Our ultimate goal was to bring Mine to the market, which we have successfully pulled off. As for our next funding round, it will most likely happen in 2020.
Mine was founded by Gal Ringel, now the company’s CEO, Gal Golan, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and Kobi Nissan, Mine’s Chief Product Officer (CPO). Ringel and Golan both have extensive cybersecurity experience, having held leadership roles in the Israeli Cyber Intelligence Unit 8200, as well as working at top tech firms such as Nielsen, Verizon and Microsoft, while Nissan brings years of global experience in data analytics and product strategy from Accenture and King Digital Entertainment. Nissan holds an MBA from INSEAD and spent time as a VC investor with Saban Ventures. Ringel has also spent time as a VC investor and was voted on the Forbes Israel 30 under 30 list in 2017.
Main image credits: Mine
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